Simplify Customer Communications: Rethinking Your Operating Model

Andrew Stevens | Wednesday, Nov 9th 2022
woman editing insurance claim summary document on laptop

Facing Further Cost Reductions & IT Bottlenecks

You know you’re heading for a recession when your senior executives start talking about “positive jaws” in their presentations to the department. There’s a standard five-minute talk track that goes with the obligatory two-lined graph, but it all boils down to one thing—to safeguard profits from a downturned economy, you’re going to be asked to reduce costs (again).

This leads to a lot of head-scratching, because it’s unlikely that it’s the first time you’ve been asked to do it, and consistent rounds of cuts over previous years have likely enforced a lean operation already. It gets even more difficult when your team produces customer communications, as other departments that you are dependent on are being asked to cut costs too, including the central IT customer communications team. 

Automating communications is a phenomenal cost-saving idea, but with everyone’s automation requests now in the same queue, and your IT team being asked to do even more with less budget than ever, the chances of them tackling your project in a timely manner are slim.

What’s next?

So, what do you do when your operational model forces you to be dependent on others, and they simply can’t help you quickly enough? You’re unlikely to be spared just because it’s not your fault, so how do you resolve this seemingly unresolvable equation?

To find the solution, we need to understand the root cause, and that requires a brief history lesson.

The origins of CCM

Way back when computers were in their infancy and entire buildings were taken up by a single, monolithic mainframe, financial institutions were the first to start harnessing the potential of computing. Early iterations of what we’d now call “innovation teams” realized the possibility of automating the most time- and resource-consuming tasks. Initial efforts included the generation of complex actuarial calculations, and the overnight generation of balances and interest payments – serious financial problems that required a lot of computing power.

Also included in this first group of automation projects was the removal of the typing pool – that army of employees that spent their days manually creating policies, schedules, statements, and bills. Large teams of IT geniuses were employed to solve the problem, and businesses raced to modernize.

Over the years, in-house IT programming gave way to software products built by computing experts, mainframes gave way to server farms, and the CCM industry was born first with a print-only focus, and then with additional digital channels. Other industries adopted the same solutions, copying the successes of the financial institutions, and buoyed by the massive efficiency savings that were promised.

The glass ceiling

CCM solutions changed everything, with one exception…the operating model. The generally accepted truth since the creation of mainframe computing has always been that communications are “things that the technical people do,” because financial institutions have always had large IT departments and our historical reference point has always been those businesses. They first solved the problem with lots of technical experts, so we must continue to do the same.

We’ve subconsciously stuck to our guns, despite overwhelming recent evidence to the contrary; digital content professionals handle the look and feel of most company websites and mobile apps, internal marketing teams have almost unlimited control over the company intranet, and countless other business applications have been built specifically for the non-technical user over the past decade.

With so many business applications built for non-technical users, why would custom communication systems be any different?

Take control

The answer to the above question is simple: customer communication systems aren’t any different.

Today, good customer communication solutions offer everything you need in a single service, and they’re fully manageable by non-technical users. The tasks we give to IT aren’t really IT tasks anymore. IT customer communication tasks range from the design of the initial layout of your emails or pages to the creation of the mandatory and optional template content, all the way through to the definition of the business rules that create the world-class, highly personalized experience that defines your company.

And when your communication solution allows you to understand the value of your interactions through the journeys your customers take through your organization, you’re in the enviable position of being able to drive loyalty and trust, and ultimately, additional revenue, through your communications—even in a recession.

Simplify by thinking differently

The answer’s been there all along. You don’t need a massive IT team handling all of your communications anymore. Let them go—allow them to work on the projects that really demand their skills, and use the right technology to let your line of business teams assume the control that they’ve been demanding for years. There isn’t even a need to worry about the complexities of deployment and configuration, because the finest solutions are available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). If you’re reading this blog on a modern browser, you’ve probably already installed everything you need to get started.

Think differently when it comes to meeting the demands of those positive jaws, because the barriers you perceive may not actually exist—you’re not limited to making further budget cuts or being held back by internal IT bottlenecks. Find the solution that helps your business to transform technologically AND operationally, by federating the control of customer communications to the individuals or teams in your organization that really understand how they should look and feel. 

Then, by linking those critical interaction points directly to your custom-built customer journeys, you can visualize the context of the messages you deliver and unlock the value hidden in every communication. Doing so allows you to find ways of increasing share of wallet and generating revenue, even in an environment that’s currently focused on cost savings.

And make sure you build those revenue changes into this year’s annual operating plan by going with a SaaS customer communication service, so you’re able to get up and running in hours, not months.