Customer communications management
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Customer Communications Management (CCM) is software to enable companies to manage customer communications across a wide range of media including printed documents, email, web pages and text messages. It entails an automated process that involve not only the delivery of communication but also segmentation of messages according to different customer profiles and contexts.
The CCM software allows organizations to deploy a new approach to information exchange to improve an organization's ability to maintain relationships with customers and constituents. This means that messages disseminated to manage this area are no longer generic but tailored according to customers' needs as well as the platform (Web, email, SMS, print) and the devices (mobile, laptop, tablet, PC) they use. This can be illustrated in the way information provided to a customer is personalized so that there is a satisfactory experience, which can lead to loyalty and brand awareness. For instance, if a customer interacts with the organization, the information or push messages provided consider not only the required information but the entire context of the interaction that includes the customer profile (e.g. lifestyle and life-stage needs), the history of his activity online, personal preferences, and so on. This process involves an immense amount of data collected offline and online, that is why automation is critical. It is for this reason CCMs are sometimes referred to as "Intelligent Customer Communications Management" systems. The automation also avoids errors and inefficiencies when communicating with one or more customers, making an organization more productive and cost effective.
When customer communications management software was launched in late 1980s, the subscription options were limited to internally operated commercial licenses.
Initial CCM concepts were focused upon the utilisation of company transactional documents. These documents such as bank statements, statement of account, invoices and other customer transactional documents were viewed as ideal media to promote company products to customers. The rationale behind this was cited in analyst research by InfoTrends that, "transactional documents are opened and read by more than 90% of consumers. Because the average consumer is bombarded with advertising, e-mail, direct mail and other forms of solicitation each day, TransPromo can help you cut through the clutter and stand out".
The scope of CCM solutions has rapidly grown beyond management and data analysis. Many contemporary solutions offer "automatic generation of sales proposals, employment contracts, loan documents, service level agreements, product descriptions and pricing, and other transactional or legal documents where re-usable content can be applied to generate accurate, consistent and personalised documents for a range of business applications". This shift into management flexibility becomes more evident as companies develop CCM solutions and products adaptable to evolving technologies available to businesses. In the recent years, this can be observed with businesses' introduction of tablets and tablet-friendly solutions into their standard scope of work.
The technology that supports customer communications management also allows sophistication in the content of the messages. Customer communications management technology may consist of the following components:
- Data Extraction, Transform & Load software
- Data Management, Analysis and Location Intelligence software
- Data Hygiene database software
- Document composition software
- Electronic document archive software and perhaps payment processing functionality
- Print Stream Engineering / Post Processing Software
- Mailing compliance database software
- Printer Management Software
- High and medium volume production printers
- Envelope inserter machines
- Email Marketing Software
- SMS Communication Software
- Mobile Media based content distribution software
- Entering the frame more recently social media distribution software
- Document Production Reporting Software
- Portal Technology
- Transpromotional Application software
Data extraction software presents marketers and businesses with an opportunity to combine data from multiple systems to perform customer analysis. This allows marketers to evaluate the marketing mix and position individual products to the customer in respect of relevance to the customer or the results of purchase propensity model.
The process results in the creation of a data model, data acquisition and decision rules. These enable a document composition engine to follow its own set of document application rules, constructing individual documents on the basis of data items contained within an individual's data record. The Document Composition engine usually produces either a print stream or, XML data.
Post processing can be utilised to prepare a print job for production and distribution. This may include tasks such as the application of barcodes to deliver individual mail piece instructions to the inserters and to vary these in terms of the actual inserter being used. For example, one manufacturer’s inserter may require different barcode instructions to complete the same task than another.
Print Management software controls the routing and distribution of print jobs to either a single production printer or a fleet of production printers. Print management software also provides a mechanism for assured delivery (ensuring that all pages get printed) through communication and feedback from print devices. Analysis of resultant data provides insight useful for Document Production Managers.
Relevance of communication is seen as key in overcrowded, competitive markets where service differentiation can be difficult. Documents that add value to the customer relationship are a major factor in improving customer retention and acquisition. Employing a Customer Communications Management solution can help organizations improve all these customer experiences efforts on a multi-channel communications level.
- Document Automation
- Intelligent Document
- Customer Experience Management
- Enterprise output management
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-  '5 Ways Customer Communications Management Improves Your Customer Experience Efforts'- Tom Roberts, April 2014