"Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs."
-- Andrew Carnegie
To manage something is to assure it is under control, to be operating as close to optimal as is feasible. But what exactly is it that comes “under control” when you install a CCM solution? Once you know that, then the next question is “who operates these controls”?
I was at the Xploration 16 conference, on the “Who’s in Control” panel, discussing exactly that. Our panel moderator, Jerry Lazarus, used the phrase “boiling the ocean” when we got together to talk about the topic. So true. CCM brings together multiple stakeholders into a common software infrastructure, and each of them desires to retain control of their own success. How does CCM deal with this?
In preparation, I decided to take a preliminary dive into the topic. On the panel, our question was “Who”. But, before I got into that, I wanted to know the “What”, as in: what is under control of the CCM solution. My posts over the next few weeks will uncover the business objectives that fall within the realm of “customer communications management”.
CCM offers controls in three fundamental dimensions: governance, production, and customer experience. But, before I dig into that, I need to take a closer look at the very nature of control. Control has a purpose, and when you deploy a control system (a.k.a. management system), it also has a purpose beyond the specific technology and features. There are goals in common for every CCM deployment.
Why we Need Control
Consistency demands control. Remember that 1960’s TV show “Get Smart”? Our hero, Maxwell Smart, was an agent of “CONTROL”, fighting the agents of “KAOS”. Chaos in customer communications leads to incorrect content, incongruous channels, and irregular communications. Control systems offer a consistent way to deliver the right content on the right channel at the right time.
Manageability demands control. A control system is based on feedback, and that feedback is used to alter process controls. Ongoing measurements and ongoing adjustments are essential. Jimi Hendrix was a master of control, as he famously “managed” the feedback loop through his guitar amp. Customer communications need feedback, a way to hear the “Voice of the Customer”. It’s a dialog, or what we like to call here at Ecrion, our “Wheel of Fortune”.
Progress demands control. I mentioned progress in my last post too, as a key customer motivator. Of course, every organization’s staff needs motivation as well, and control systems that provide progress indicators also motivate. CCM projects don’t start when customer communications are mastered. Rather, they start when there is a realization that improvement is necessary, and that success doesn’t come overnight. Evaluation of progress is an essential part of the CCM control system.
Criticality demands control. When something is important to an organization, it is controlled. Nothing was left to chance on NASA’s Apollo program, and those of us who watched the Apollo missions broadcast on live TV recall row after row of consoles at Houston’s “Mission Control” room. In contrast, the soda station at the local McDonalds has no controls, because profitability is not jeopardized if a spill occurs, or if a customer sneaks a soda instead of a water. If something critical isn’t controlled, success is at risk.
Since you are reading this blog, there is very good chance your organization is either planning or implementing a customer communications project, with the intent being to control processes that affect customer satisfaction. You have recognized customer communication as a critical aspect of your success, you need to get better, and you need to know you are getting better.
As you look for your CCM solution (such as our own EOS), you should expect your customer communication to achieve consistency, offer manageability, and deliver metrics. CCM control systems, like our own EOS, provide these controls.
In the Next Part…
In Part 2 of this series, I’ll dig into the different kinds of things CCM controls. Customer satisfaction is subject to “the weakest link in the chain”, and we will take a look at each of these links.