Introduction

Every enterprise in the world is—or should be— amidst transformation. In a post-pandemic age, exceptional customer experience is the number one differentiator for businesses.


Today’s customers are savvy and more demanding than ever before. The lowest price no longer earns loyalty. Their journey with you must be seamless and aligned to their preferences at every touchpoint. Despite being more—or even completely—digital, the customer journey needs to be highly personalised. The race to orchestrate the greatest customer experience (CX) is on.

What is the difference between CRM and CXM software?

Salesforce, a leader in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software market, defines CRM as “technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.” The primary goal of CRM is to enhance your business relationships to ultimately grow your business.

In contrast, Customer Experience Management (CXM) software is defined as the discipline of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, resulting in greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy, and increased revenue.

In simple terms, CRM enables you to collect and analyse data to understand customers, while CXM allows you to take action based on that data to improve the customer experience.

How to choose your CXM software

So, how do you get race-ready and position yourself to win? Implement the most intelligent customer communications management (CCM), customer experience management (CXM) solutions
and processes that will accommodate your unique needs and drive customer engagement.

Overhauling your customer communications to be more customer-centric and investing in solutions to transform customer experience to gain a competitive edge is no small feat. You’ll likely spend the better part of a year researching, line-iteming, securing budget, and creating metrics. You’ll also spend significant time comparing vendors and watching solution demos to learn which solution is best.

But there is a crucial thing that you need to know from the outset: demos and fine print don’t always tell the whole truth. Unless you have a colleague in the CCM business or have been through the wringer with a different vendor, there are success-determining questions you don’t know to ask. Often, these questions are not triggered in the sales process by design because the answers are unfavourable to many vendors.

Here are a few questions crafted by CCM experts to help you make the most informed, intelligent customer experience management solution purchase.

Billing and Upcharges

  1. What is the unit of billing? Is the solution price based on the communication, number of users, the number of pages, or some quantity of data as a metric?

This matters because if output billing is based on kilobytes of file size, this price will fluctuate
unpredictably across communication types and could exhaust your budget quickly.

  1. Are new features chargeable? If so, please explain.

Reporting and Budget Projections

  1. What real-time status and monthly billing reporting does your solution provide? What dashboards or reports are available to track my remaining volume entitlements, users, etc.?

This matters because budgets are hard-won, and every line must be justified. Getting blindsided by upcharges is preventable. Consistent reporting on allotment usage enables you to adjust processes and implement training to prevent the need to secure a supplementary budget. Vendors have different reporting structures, find one that best allows you to control your investment.

  1. What percentage of customers exceed their budget for their SMS, PDF, email, and print output projects in a year?

This matters because history tends to repeat itself. If existing customers typically exceed their budgets with a vendor annually, you can expect to as well.

Customer Success

  1. Explain how customer satisfaction scores impact your future developments?
  2. What are the all-time numbers for a customer’s propensity to recommend your solution?
    What included support services do you offer to customers?

     

This question will answer whether the vendor is invested in your success. The depth of customer support and professional services capabilities are leading factors in determining Net Promoter Scores for CCM vendors, as the ability to guide a customer through to their first successful project is crucial to demonstrating ROI and CCM capabilities.

Intellectual Property

  1. I want to back up my communications portfolio locally or elsewhere; how do I do this with your organisation’s technology? Where will my communications Intellectual Property live?

Customer Experience Management (CXM)

  1. How do your users collaborate with other stakeholders or lines of business who may be working on different communications in other stages of the customer journey?
  2. How do your clients attribute performance and value to their communication projects using KPIs and other relevant metrics?

Customer Journey Management

  1. How does your journey solution ensure that communications are designed to orchestrate the next best action for completing a business process (onboarding, signup, renewal)?
  2. How does your journey solution ensure that my communications are compliant with the CX standards of my organisation?

Want to learn more? Download The Apex Guide to Customer Communications Shopping for 75 crucial questions to ask when evaluating customer communications solutions.

Why invest in Customer Experience Management software?

Thanks to super-brands like Apple, Google, and Amazon, consumer expectations are higher than ever before. Today’s customers want personalised, relevant communications that are available on-demand and accessible via the device of their choice.

But for many large organisations—particularly in regulated B2C industries such as insurance,

financial services, telecommunications, and utilities—delivering on the customer experience (CX) promise is easier said than done. When it comes to digital and communication transformation, these enterprises face several challenges, including:

  • Complex legacy IT systems and data silos
  • Operational and digital silos
  • Changing market regulations
  • Lack of IT time and resources
  • Pressure to improve time-to-market

Customer experience management platforms, such as customer communications management (CCM) have been developed to help large enterprises overcome these challenges.

What to look for in CXM software?

Demos and fine print don’t always tell the whole truth. From budget to customer success, capacity to scalability, there are lots of considerations to ensure you make the most informed, intelligent CX investment.

Here are five CCM technology procurement tips to help you:

Tip #1: Avoid hidden fees

Your customer communication requirements might be complicated, but your CCM bill shouldn’t be. Ensure that your CCM vendor’s pricing and reporting tells you exactly what you have and what you don’t – so you don’t accidentally blow your budget or incur unexpected penalty fees.  

Partner with a vendor that is committed to positioning you for success with simplicity, transparency, and support that enables scalability in alignment with your goals and your budget.  

Tip #2: Ensure there's enough horsepower

Not all jobs are simple. Today’s highly regulated enterprises have complicated communication needs. You need a CCM partner you can trust to handle your most complex customer communication challenges.

Before you buy, make sure your customer communications provider has the horsepower for the big races, not just the practice laps.  

Tip #3: Check under the hood

Building robust solutions for today’s fast-paced enterprises takes time. Make sure that your CCM provider invests in R&D to stay ahead of the CX curve.

Tip #4: Read the reviews

Ensure that you partner with a CCM vendor that’s committed to the success of their customers. Review analyst recommendations, ask potential vendors about their customer satisfaction ratings, and check review sites such as Gartner Peer Reviews to hear directly from users.

Tip #5: Consider both current and future needs

Enterprises evolve at their own pace. Today’s needs won’t be the same tomorrow. Make sure to consider the deployment options prospective CCM vendors offer.

Regardless of your deployment needs, our solutions deliver unmatched speed and scalability – on-premise, in the cloud, or hybrid. We won’t force you to choose and we promise to grow with you through every stage.  Any-premise deployment options ensure companies don’t get locked into

infrastructures that don’t grow with their business and provide the portability and scalability that modern CCM requires.

Finding the Best CXM software for your needs

With so many solutions available for enterprises to choose from, it is difficult to determine which solution is the best fit for your business. The fear of repercussion in making the wrong choice often results in no choice at all, leaving the enterprise and its lines of business to make do with what it currently has.

This situation is preventable with a strategic approach to acquiring the right solution. Through careful planning, detailed requirements gathering, and a team driven by an aligned organisation and the support of executives, enterprises find the right solution and successfully implement it to provide a framework for the future of customer communications.

Future-proofing communications

One common goal for enterprises when selecting CCM technology is to future-proof communications, or at least come close. Not all trends and enhancements are predictable but choosing a technology partner that is actively involved in tracking the next big thing in communications will increase the likelihood that when an enterprise is ready to implement a new feature or enhance communications, the capability will be available in the software solution.

It’s critical to understand the vendor’s propensity to extend the platform and stay current with incremental enhancements in some demonstrable way. Don’t just take the salesperson’s word on it.

Gaining leadership support

Often technology acquisitions are delayed when the proper leadership support is not obtained, and there is a lack of organisational alignment. Understanding who, from a leadership perspective, should be involved is critical.

Various members of IT, line-of-business, and procurement are often the first thought. Other stakeholders may include legal and compliance officers, finance, customer experience, marketing, production staff responsible for managing output, and other stakeholders who have a responsibility to provide or review these communications. This group of stakeholders will ultimately be the steering committee.

Managing the selection process

It is a challenge to manage the opinions and needs of the many enterprise CCM stakeholders, so a plan on how to manage the selection process and how the decision will be made should be put in place. With the selection committee defined, a comprehensive evaluation plan should be put into place that outlines how each stakeholder will provide their requirements and how vendor responses to these requirements will be graded and scored.

Once the team is in place, and the approach to selecting and grading is established, it’s time to determine which vendors will be offered the opportunity to respond to the RFP and showcase their capabilities. Another option is to leverage industry resources familiar with CCM vendors and technology to fast-track the short-list selection process.

Strategy for post implementation success

One overlooked area is how implementation will be managed once a solution is decided upon. While IT will be greatly involved, someone outside of IT, ideally with project management skills and implementation experience, will ensure that all of the goals of the solution are met from start to finish.

Selecting a vendor with significant implementation and migration experience will also ensure success. Vendor involvement and support during implementation is the best way to ensure the solution is implemented most effectively and efficiently possible and appropriately integrated with existing systems. Reviewing options for support and professional services will show what expertise and experience is available to leverage directly from the vendor to fill any gaps in resources.

The importance of a live POC

A proof-of-concept or POC is a step that many organisations talk about. Still, few seem to follow through at a level that ensures an experience exactly like they should expect to receive once the contract is signed and implementation begins. Even when a robust evaluation process is completed, some issues may be uncovered during a POC that will reduce any roadblocks during implementation.

For a detailed POC, each shortlisted vendor must showcase precisely how their solution meets the needs of the enterprise. This is key as variations between prospective vendors may only be exposed when they show how their solution meets the business needs. Differences such as how data is handled, how business rules are captured, which functions are included in which modules, all the way through to performance, may be uncovered during this process.

The proof-of-concept should be developed on-site and involve key staff members using the technology to better understand what is involved. No matter the application, the enterprise will need to provide the vendors with sample data structured in the same way live data is, as well as other communication components such as fonts, logos, and other graphics.

Investing in new CCM technology is no small task, but success is achieved with the proper planning and support early on. Acquiring the support of influential leadership is a critical step in ensuring success. A thorough needs assessment that will feed a requirements document is also crucial to find a solution that meets current and future needs. And finally, enterprises must perform a rigorous evaluation and selection process to find the right solution.

Achieving a successful CCM infrastructure does not end with finding the right solution. Consideration, support, and dedication to implementing and migrating applications to the new system is essential for long-term success.

Conclusion

Conducting due diligence to determine which CCM solution is the best choice for your organisation can be a complex undertaking. The Aspire Leaderboard helps simplify the process. The Aspire Leaderboard is a dynamic, digital-first vendor positioning grid that ranks vendors across the CCM industry.

Want to learn more about Quadient’s award-winning CCM platform, Inspire™? Visit https://www.quadient.com/en-GB/contact-us#contact-quadient to schedule a demo.

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