What is Customer Communication Management?

Stephanie Clarke | Monday, Nov 7th 2022
group of individuals working at their computers

Today, customers expect relevant, highly personalised communications. They expect communications to be representative of their context and preference. They expect communications to be accessible via the device of their choice and available on-demand.

The way that a business communicates with its customers is a major factor in delivering a good customer experience. As such, Customer Communications Management (CCM) should be a critical area of focus for all businesses.

But what exactly is Customer Communication Management and why is it important for your business?

Customer Communications Management definition

Communications, such as a bill from your utility company or a credit card statement from your bank, seem simple. In reality they are complex to design and deliver.

The information included in these communications come from a variety of systems:

  • Customer data from a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
  • Marketing messages from a marketing platform.
  • Financial information from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
  • Brand assets from a digital asset management platform (DAM).
  • Terms and conditions from a legal system and more.

Advanced customer communications management solutions connect to your enterprise systems. They streamline customer data into a centralised content manager, resulting in a seamless experience for your customer.

Omnichannel CCM solutions go beyond print. They convert one master design into paper, digital and mobile communications that are all in sync, on brand and instantly available. This enables you to produce millions of personalised communications in hours or create them on the fly when requested. And they are all automatically archived for future retrieval.

With CCM, maintaining your documents is faster and easier. In complex businesses, all information in a customer communication is managed by a different team, including branding content and regulatory language.

This is the power of CCM. By identifying the owner of each piece of content, it enables team members to update text, images, charts, and data. Once updated, those changes are rapidly pushed to production. All changes are governed by a robust approval process to ensure accuracy before delivery to the customer.

Customer communications management solutions extend the power of your existing systems.

They leverage customer data to create compliant and highly personalised communications across channels from one centralised communications platform.

Why is Customer Communication Management important?

Effective communication management strategies are critical to optimising client communication across the customer journey. Customers value a seamless conversational experience. Companies have a wide range of channels to communicate through – from email to SMS to social media.

CCM is a powerful tool to increase the efficiency of customer communication design and delivery. It helps companies better engage their customers and to ultimately enhance customer relationships.

The Benefits of Customer Communication Management

While the business benefits to adopting a centralised CCM solution are plentiful, discussions around CCM can be complex at times. Let's break it down and make it simple. Here we will highlight four fundamental ways in which CCM will benefit your business.

  1. Improve the customer experience

Centralised CCM platforms that enable real-time, cross-channel, interactive communications result in dramatically improved customer experience. They achieve this in the following ways:

Personalisation and channel preference
Leading CCM solutions facilitate the creation of highly personalised, relevant communications across virtually any channel customers interact with your business on. Further, CCM channel preference management tools ensure that you’re engaging with customers via the channels of their choice.

Interactivity
Dynamic visualisation facilitates mobile (and web) experiences that let customers engage with content using interactive charts, graphs, and sliders.

Consistency
Centralisation delivers a better customer experience because designs are created in a channel-agnostic way and pushed to customers via their preferred channel. Consistent messaging, just like consistent experiences, build trust. Trust drives loyalty.

Convenience
A centralised CCM platform enables you to get the right messages to your customers faster. Additionally, it makes creating a seamless onboarding experience easy with pre-populated digital forms, electronic signature capabilities, and more.

  1. Enhance efficiency

Business user enablement
Centralised CCM solutions enable business users to create, edit, and manage content, reducing reliance on IT.

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Eliminate departmental and digital silos
Many organisations have separate teams dedicated to creating communications for print, mobile, email, and web. This can result in operational inefficiency, high costs, inconsistency, and regulatory risk. A centralised CCM infrastructure delivers efficiency gains since changes are easily propagated across various touchpoints and channels.

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Speed digital transformation

Many traditional industries including financial services, insurance, utilities, and government have a complex infrastructure of critical legacy IT technology. Systems that were developed 15 to 20 years ago for print-centric output. Today, it’s paramount that CCM solutions integrate with existing core systems. Thus, enabling a seamless cross-channel experience through one easy-to-use interface.

Leading CCM solutions allow you to leverage existing templates and customer data to create highly personalised communications for virtually any channel.

4. Reduce risk

Content managers often view compliance requirements as an obstacle. This can be overcome by integrating compliance into the design and development of communications. A centralised CCM solution enables:

Collaboration
A content development process that enables compliance, legal, and line-of-business teams to collaborate throughout the process reduces frustration and speeds time-to-market.

A holistic view
In order to reduce errors, compliance teams need a view of the entire communications package in every form. Whether that be on paper, web pages or on a mobile application. This way, compliance teams can review and analyse what customers see and how they see it.

Greater control


Compliance personnel need the ability to manage, track, audit, and approve regulatory language quickly and easily. Modern CCM solutions ensure that changes are made in one location and applied everywhere you choose. Additionally, content blocks can be locked down to safeguard regulatory language where required.

Four CCM Fundamentals

We have established the business benefits of implementing a centralised CCM solution as a part of your overall CX strategy. But what should business leaders consider when evaluating CCM platforms? How can you be sure you are investing in the right solution for your business? In this section, we highlight four important considerations when evaluating a CCM solution for your organisation.

  1. Invest in a centralised platform

Today, customer preferences and a rapidly changing communication landscape are driving enterprises to rethink how they manage customer communications. The more customers, channels, products, and services a business has, the more likely there are many legacy and modern systems to manage it all.
 

The resulting infrastructure of software, hardware, and business rules requires significant maintenance. The management of customer communications often lacks a holistic strategy.
 

Enterprises that invest in a centralised CCM platform can realize several benefits, as discussed earlier in this article.

However, it’s important to note that technology migration can be a complex undertaking. Therefore, it’s critical to select a CCM provider that has a proven methodology and extensive migration experience.
 

  1. The importance of a seamless graphical user interface

The user experience is another important consideration. A seamless graphical user interface (GUI) helps to expedite employee onboarding, as well reducing frustration and increasing user efficiency.

  1. Empower business users

As many businesses recognise the need to become digital masters, they are rethinking how they serve customers. In the past, when IT were the only ones involved in developing systems, it led by default and maintained control. However, businesses become more digital, it is the line-of-business that dictates how things should be done. While the IT department often acts as an enabler.
 

Collaboration between cross-functional employees is increasingly important. To create and deliver relevant, and personalised communications, business users need to take ownership of communications, with approval workflows that connect all stakeholders.
 

Select a CCM platform that enables business users to create, edit, and manage content, instead of relying on IT users to make required changes. Large organisations send millions of customer communications each month. These communications are potentially based on thousands of document templates. Managing change for those document templates is costly and time consuming, so it is clearly a win to offload those responsibilities to the business.

  1. Architecture that matters

One of the biggest challenges when managing customer communications is the lack of a comprehensive strategy. The older an enterprise is, the more likely it is that they have a jumble of legacy and modern technology platforms. The rapid introduction of new communication technologies has led to businesses adopting one-off tools to handle output to these channels. Additionally, for many organisations, mergers and acquisitions have resulted in a greater number of IT tools and platforms to manage.

Migrating to a single CCM platform ensures consistency in how communications are created and delivered among the various lines of business. In addition, it enables you to standardise processes across business lines.

Here are four important considerations relating to architecture and integration:

  1. One platform to rule them all

Earlier we established the importance of a seamless GUI. This is crucial from a usability standpoint as well as from an integration standpoint. Many leading CCM solutions are made up of several acquired applications or products. This results in a mishmash of technologies that make integration (and IT support) a challenge.

  1. Flexibility

Seek a platform that meets your current deployment needs as well as future requirements. Whether you want to deploy a solution on premise, in the cloud, a hybrid of both, or as a hosted managed service.

  1. Integration and open technology

Customer communications touch nearly all parts of your business. To create personalised communications for all channels, your CCM solution needs to integrate seamlessly with various technologies including:

  • Core systems (CRM, ERP, ECM, etc.)
  • Line-of-business systems (core banking, claims/billing, underwriting, etc.)
  • Legacy systems (transactional systems, homegrown applications, production management, etc.)
  • Adjacent technologies (BI and BA tools, archiving systems, mobile applications, etc.)

 

  1. Enabling next generation communications

Implementing technology that aligns with short and long-term goals assures that the technology evolves with your evolving communication requirements. Many CCM solution providers keep up with the latest trends. They deliver modern CCM platforms that enable enterprises to quickly go-to-market with communications delivered in a new channel.

  1. Personalisation: using data to build customer loyalty

Many organisations sitting on a data goldmine. They have access to billions of data points on their customers. These data points can be leveraged to engage in a highly contextualised manner.

Ninety-four percent of companies agree that personalisation is critical to their current and future success. But almost half say that IT roadblocks (47%) and legacy technology (46%) are “major barriers” to their personalisation efforts (The Realities of Personalisation Report. Econsultancy & Monetate).

The key to delivering a personalised communication experience is in the supporting technology and its integration capabilities. Your CCM solution must be able to pull data from anywhere within your existing data ecosystem to create highly-personalised, relevant and timely cross-channel communications.

Buyer beware: Some CCM technologies require you to extract, manipulate, and load your data into an XML file before you can leverage it. This wastes valuable time and resources. When evaluating CCM solutions, businesses should ensure that the technology can meet their integration needs and CX goals. Thus, a proof of concept is critical.

How to get started in Customer Communication Management

The myriad CCM solutions available to choose from can make it difficult to determine which solution is the best fit for your business.

We recommend taking a strategic approach to acquiring the right solution. This approach should include careful planning and comprehensive requirements gathering. It also requires an evaluation team driven by an aligned organisation and the support of executives.

Want to learn more? Download our Apex guide to customer communication shopping for 75 crucial questions to ask when buying a CCM solution.

Conclusion

Companies often struggle to execute a comprehensive CX strategy because they have not put the necessary customer communications foundations in place.  Modern CCM solutions help companies create a unified customer communications infrastructure to deliver omnichannel experiences that span the entire customer journey.

Download our free coursebook CCM 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Customer Communication Management Technology to learn more.