“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein
We talked last about Governance and how CCM solutions can adapt to meet criteria dictated by externalities such as public policy and customer preferences. In that discussion, Governance was the manager of our touring band, dictating various parameters to influence the controls we maintain in our software. Checks for compliance and a great many other things are only of increasing importance, especially with a mass migration to cloud computing over the years.
This series, CCM for Strategic Thinkers, was meant to highlight some core necessities involved in strategically planning our customer correspondence. The first section was about leveraging customer data, how careful targeting is a primary step toward engaging your base. In Part 2 we discussed the potential for interfaces to empower your employees and customers, how the tools alone can facilitate lifelong advocacy, essentially a “record” or a history among them. Part 3 was about the role of governance in our correspondence, a discussion of certain factors that require oversight in producing our documents.
In this last section, on the heels of all the “oversight” talk, we’re hoping to tie together various components, emphasizing that Customer Communication Management is never over – it’s not a single project with a timeline. Brand identity can be forever – your Greatest Hits could sell for decades, passively, even after all the work is done. You could be a Rolling Stone. This, to reiterate, is called Customer Lifetime Value.
Customer Lifetime Value is best understood as a paradox: it’s an endgame, and it’s not. There is no “farewell concert” for a dynamic, customer-centric business. We call it the Customer Life Cycle for a reason – because it goes around and around, an entity
sustained with only proper care and attention. For your brand to achieve a healthy flow throughout the cycle, your band won’t be doing just the regular East-West, cross-country beeline tour. Your band will have to travel for a loop. You will have to hit all the major points on the map, but also the little, quiet towns along the way.
And then do it again.
To again invoke the paradox of Customer Lifetime Value: I mentioned, before, the predicament of ultimate freedom vs. ultimate safety, how a good software maximizes both. Longevity in the Customer Life Cycle depends on the constant maintenance of this relationship, and so the entirety of your CCM strategy is to be wrapped up in it.
Part 4: Flexibility
Styles of Production
There are three different modes of document production within a good CCM solution: Structured production, On-Demand production, and Interactive production.
Structured production – otherwise known as batch production – is the traditional method of producing transactional documents (such as monthly statements) for a large client base. This use case is the most basic, universal process for document creation, concerned more with bulk delivery than with personalized, engaging communications (though a CCM solution with superior controls and analytics might create more opportunities for these sorts of connections). Thinking about this in the context of lifetime fan loyalty, these are your average band T-shirts.
On-Demand production is the other side of the coin – this is where the production happens ad-hoc for a specific customer. Documents are delivered when, where, and how the client needs it. This is a typical use case for web site integration, or for document production within a CRM application such as Salesforce. It’s also essentially the widely-used norm for today’s ambitious, large-scale, yet personable document distribution. With this, we have our wider selection of custom graphic tees for your audience to choose from!
Our third is a special case of On Demand: Interactive production is where the document contains information or content that is gathered in real time, for service agent desktops, or any staff member providing personalized outbound correspondence. For example, with EOS-CCM, the empty forms will appear on the staff member’s computer screen, and display whatever additions or adjustments that person is making in real time. In essence, this is where your fans get to meet you. You design the exact t-shirt they want in front of them. Maybe paint their face, give them a balloon (certainly more than the Stones would do). It’s like magic.
All three of these use cases can likely be exposed by the CCM solution’s web server as URLs, for ease of integration, or they can be triggered by other means, such as scheduled execution, arrival of data, or even a direct API call (options for integration with external data sources and external business processes are one of the premier differentiators between EOS-CCM and other CCM products).
In a technologically-forward solution, the different use-cases are provided with asynchronous capabilities, with notifications and administration outside of specific document workflows. The system can be integrated with E-mail servers, printer queues, SMS services, social media, and proper network-based communication services.
Document infrastructure supporting these three modes would endow your company-customer dialogue with a full range of motion – much more than an automated message pretending to be available to your fans. As we’ve discussed throughout this series, CCM should allow you to serenade your clients directly (house shows are a huge thing now), many at once! Simultaneously!
Flexible & Available
The House Show
I mentioned that we should account for the rise of cloud-based computing and use of SaaS providers, but that does not mean we’re ignoring the many companies that are still in transition. There is a whole spectrum of orientation when it comes to “readiness” for the future. Some architectural decisions made to enhance current infrastructure may not stand the test of time (Kansas, Dust In The Wind).
But the beauty of modern technology is its inherent flexibility, capable of meeting your immediate requirements, no matter what stage of transition you’re in– regardless of your size or technical savvy, there will always be somewhere to drop in (Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time). A host of possibilities await after that, several paths to other computing configurations which protect the investment in the existing CCM projects (that safety in juxtaposition to flexibility mentioned earlier).
In choosing a CCM service, you should naturally expect "High Availability" options – and this is probably the most literal representation of an actual Customer Life Cycle, where your respective connections will remain unbroken. It’s especially important for the interactive and on-demand use cases where 24/7 availability is essential.
Whether you’re using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or SaaS, or simply on-site installation of your services (like I said, a spectrum), you can create a path to enhanced future communication with customers. There are even hybrid options to optimize integration and security, while connecting various document production components within the cloud.
Conclusion: A Robo-Rock Hero
Our talks have covered many of the broad essentials (or general necessities) of good CCM, with some specs thrown in, and my hope is that they have engaged you as much as you would like to engage your customers.
But I don’t want the title of this section (Conclusion) to mislead you. Again, there is no conclusion to this journey. Wherever we are, we’re only starting, just as excited as if we were embarking for the first time. Customer Communications Management is an ever-evolving creature, and your stream of communications with clients should be likewise – because they are the lifeblood! The water to the river! The thorn to the rose (just ask Poiso – no, GET OUT OF HERE, POISON)!
Thank you for joining us on the greatest music tour in history. Here at Ecrion, we want to set an example of great Customer Communications Management that is fully accessible, completely flexible, and totally safe. Higher performance in less time, with fewer resources - that's reconciling a lot of paradoxes - something superhuman, maybe, which is probably why our mascot is a superhero…
a superhero rocker….
....with a gleaming personality.