“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau
This is the last in my series focused on the "management" aspect of Customer Communication Management, but certainly not the least of them. In part 1, I identified the forces driving customer communications into a unified solution: establishing consistency, measuring progress, reducing risk to critical operations, and applying controlled change. In part 2, I offered perspective on managing personalized and engaging dialogs with each customer. In part 3, I changed focus to the mechanics of internal automation and process controls.
Finally, in this last part, I'll call attention to governance, which is the ability to enforce policies and execute strategies across all customer communications. Without governance, customer communication may be unified in shared tools, but the communications they generate will be disconnected from authority, and unable to represent the unified "Voice of the Company".
Governance, as a control, is a different dimension in comparison to both the production and engagement dimensions. Governance is about policy, in implementation and in assurance. Policy may be as critical as protection of personal information, or as detailed as the exact placement of a logo within every document produced. If a customer communication policy is declared within an organization, the CCM infrastructure should offer controls that help govern conformance to those policies.
Brand Management and Corporate Identity
CCM systems open a collaborative door to an organization team charged to design recurring communications templates. Additionally, ad-hoc correspondence, by definition, contains content that bypasses formal project review cycles. This distributed source of communication content and presentation poses a challenge to CCM solutions, which must also prevent divergence from the intended "Voice of the Company". CCM solutions need to simultaneously support the apparently contradictory goals of content flexibility and content control.
In support of collaborative design, complete documents need to be broken down into smaller components, such as headers, footers, cover sheets, contacts, terms and conditions, and the like. These reusable constituent parts represent “brand policy”, and should be used within every master document template. Official styles, layouts, fonts, images, etc., fall into this same category, so components containing these are centrally located and referenced within all documents covered by the policy. These are “locked” by user-specific permissions, so only those authorized to change policy can change these communication components.
Content policies control the text included in customer communication, and are an addition to brand controls. For recurring documents such as invoices and statements, stakeholders need review and approve authority over the process, without creating a burden on the developers of the schedule. For correspondence, organizations may be comfortable providing nothing more than a letterhead template to agents, while others are uncomfortable delegating any freedom at all to those who will communicate with customers. In the middle, there are review and approve use cases applied to the generated documents, rather than the production process as a whole.
CCM solutions with these sorts of sub-component parts, and with quality control policies, enable and promote a unified and positive corporate identity.
This structure has to be balanced with personalized and targeted content. These targeted messages will vary from document to document, even within the same workflow. They will frequently change, as the strategy for messaging to customers evolves over time (we call these 'message campaigns'). These campaigns cannot put entire production workflows back into test mode. Rather, the campaign messages are "carried" by the production workflow, just like a web page that carries an advertisement that varies from click to click.
Governance over these targeted messages relies on generation and execution of rules based on available data. These rules can be derived from static customer information (e.g. home address), dynamic customer information (e.g. invoice amount), historic record (e.g. message sent last month), or predictive information (e.g. likely to be looking for a new computer), and the rules may be a combination of all of these.
In a broader sense, interaction with the customer is useless if it cannot be used to adjust outbound communications to improve personalization and targeting. This feedback loop is closed, and transforms into a dialog, using customer intelligence tools built into some CCM solutions.
In the document production perspective, electronic delivery is best because it is less costly than traditional paper delivery. From a governance perspective, electronic delivery is valuable because it provides opportunities for interaction, and that produces metrics. CCM solutions can count interactions, and measure engagement. These sorts of measurements feed into customer intelligence algorithms, and can be used to govern the dialog, as well as govern content. Content without responses can be discarded, and content that engages can be pursued.
Security Requirements and Certifications
CCM infrastructure leverages distributed processing, APIs, Web Services, and browser-based management. Servers may be deployed on an organization’s premises, in a virtual private cloud surrounded by an enterprise security perimeter, or in a public cloud.
Each of these deployment scenarios subject the CCM components to security policies. These cover everything from disaster recovery to malicious attacks. Policies may require use of encrypted connections between components, or authentication logs. They may require zeroing disk files or encrypting data at rest. There are third party security policies, such as ISO 20071, which apply to these solutions.
Regulatory Requirements, Customer Privacy and Electronic Access
Electronic access controls certainly apply to customer portals, as well as any integrated systems that access and present hosted documents. In this use case, customers need credentials, and the CCM solution needs to offer credential management and appropriate authentication. Access needs to follow secure protocols and procedures. Security integration through SSO is an important consideration, because document access might just be a portion of a much larger scoped customer portal.
Access controls also apply to internal staff. A CCM system is a rich source of personal information, and access from inside requires controls as well. Security procedures constructed by the organization need a CCM infrastructure that enforces these policies, both on a group and an individual level.
Peeling the onion on CCM controls has been a bigger job than I anticipated, and I appreciate that you are still with me.
The most interesting thing about this investigation of the objects of customer communication management brings us back to why controls are established in the first place. If your organization feels that customer communication is something more than overhead to be endured, and instead feels it is an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and retention, then all of these controls should sound desirable rather than ominous. Leading CCM tools offer straight forward controls, and in fact, that is a huge part of their value proposition. That is why the tools are “Customer Communication Management”, and not “Customer Communication Production”.