Responding quickly to customer needs and creating personalized communications are important elements of a great customer experience. While the speed of doing business continues to increase, so do the constraints on IT resources, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to keep up.
At the same time, internal branding or industry-specific compliance requirements drive the need for maintaining tight control of customer communications. The data and content that appear in letters, statements, bills, policies and other communications must be timely, accurate and appropriate for each unique situation, and the layout, color and formatting must abide by corporate guidelines and industry mandates.
In addition, tracking mechanisms for content changes are required to ensure auditability and compliance. In short, IT involvement is unavoidable when establishing the required levels of control, security, content management and consistency.
How can you take the burden of editing existing communication templates and creating new ones as well as the associated delays and rework off of your IT department?
This is a common question across a variety of industries as more organizations focus on enhancing the customer experience and improving operational flexibility.
As a result, there is a drive to give more control of customer communications over to the business users.
Striking the Right Balance
Ultimately, there needs to be a balance between IT and business users. It is no longer realistic for IT to maintain full control of all templates, content, workflows and rules related to customer communications. And, customers are no longer content with generic, mass communications sent in bulk mailings.
For example, after filing an insurance claim for an auto accident, customers want a confirmation letter sent in a timely manner, and they want it personalized with information about their agent and/or assigned adjuster.
They don’t want to receive a ”Dear Claimant” form letter three weeks after they have submitted their first notice of loss regarding the accident. The same applies to just about every communication between an organization—private or public—and a customer.
It is possible to personalize communications, respond rapidly and meet all the requirements for branding, accuracy, auditability and compliance with limited to no business-user involvement.
This is often referred to as a “brute force” approach. However, the results tend to be more resource-intensive, more costly and less effective when business users are not as involved. Increasing business-user involvement in communications is ideal because they know the unique customer preferences and needs as well as the business context and sensitivity for each situation.
Business users also have the ability to respond based on the appropriate timing for each unique circumstance.
A Disciplined Approach
The question becomes, how do you find the right balance? How can IT be confident that yielding some control to business users will be beneficial? The answer lies in a disciplined approach based on four specific actions:
- Implement a modern customer communications management (CCM) solution that has been developed with a user interface designed with business users in mind.
- Establish one or more business analysts—liaisons between business and IT—who are highly trained on the CCM solution for the creation and management of templates and related content, rules and workflows for customer documents and correspondence.
- Develop and document the entire process for content creation and management, including role-based review and approvals for each key stage.
- Designate a senior executive or a cross-functional team with enterprise-wide responsibility for the customer experience. This executive or team should monitor all customer communications, documents and correspondence across the organization to ensure that the needs of both the business and IT are being met.
Taking these steps will help to ensure that the right balance of IT and business users is in place to improve operational flexibility and fully optimize the customer experience.