You've probably heard the phrase or acronym many times in meetings. You might have even looked it up on Google to see what it was and got a somewhat rudimentary answer. It seems rather self explanatory though, doesn't it? Customer communications management ... it's just the management of customer communications. See, easy. Yeah, you know it's not that simple. So, then, what is customer communications management?
At its core, CCM - there's that acronym - IS the management of customer communications, but it's more than that. Think of it like ordering food at a popular fast food drive thru. You say what you want into a speaker, where some unseen person verifies what you want. You drive up, give them money, they give you a bag of food, and you leave. Simple, right? For you, the customer, yes. For the business, however, there are a lot of moving parts.
In order to get to the point in the timeline where you drive away with the smell of a fast food burger filling your car, the business has to: order the food; wait for the food to get there; store the food; hire people to cook the food and take the orders; have those people take your order and prepare your food; take your money and give you change; then give you the bag of food. Only then do you drive off. As a customer, you don't see the moving pieces behind the scenes.
Communicating with your own customers is surprisingly similar, no matter what type of business you run. They want something from you, so they tell you what they want. Your company then has to put all the pieces together to give the customer what they're asking for and bill them accordingly.
Now that you have a little better understanding of the big picture, let's look at customer communications management in a little more detail so you'll have a greater understanding - and appreciation - of what a good CCM solution can do for you.
The Documents of Customer Communications Management
Your organization communicates with your customers at least once a month or so, if for nothing else than to send a bill or invoice. Some companies send out different types of communications, though. Have a new product coming out that your customers would like to know about? Send a document. Want to know what your customers think about your company? Send a document. A customer would like your company to send them a copy of their bill or invoice for the last four months? Yep, send a document.
At the heart of CCM is managing these documents. There are three types of documents you will typically send to your customers.
These types of documents are going to be the ones your company will send the most. Structured documents are those that are scheduled, formatted, and rarely need any changes. A great customer communications management solution will provide your business with template management. The templates will pull information from your servers about your customers to fill out the document. These types of documents are usually bills, invoices, or statements.
As you might have already figured out, interactive documents are just that - interactive. Nevertheless, they're becoming a bigger and much more important part of customer communications management. These documents call for a very high degree of personalization, so your customer communications management solution needs to link the customer-specific data to predefined structures, such as a particular text block. The right software will provide more individualized output based on matching customer-specific and customer-relevant data. These documents typically are offers, contracts, marketing materials, or anything that requires your customers to, well, interact.
Lastly, your organization will always run into times when it needs to produce documents on the fly. CCM software allows for greater on-demand document production, which is usually triggered by requests from various incoming channels, such as the web, phone, email, social media, etc. On-demand document production can be automated or done manually.
For all intents and purposes, customer communications management is simply this:
a way to create, deliver, store, and retrieve these documents.
Optimize, Converse, and Engage
Now that you know the main types of documents involved in customer communications management, you'll need a better picture of how it all comes together. For all intents and purposes, customer communications management is simply this: a way to create, deliver, store, and retrieve these documents. Of course, there's good CCM and, well, let's just call it "other."
If your company doesn't have a focus on your customers and you don't really care about retaining or having loyal customers, maybe having the "other" option is best for you. Guess you're not interested in increased revenue, happy customers, or a significant ROI.
OK, now that those folks have stopped reading, let's talk about the importance of good CCM. As a company, your goal for customer communications management should be to optimize the way you communicate with your customers. How do you do that, though?
Give Them What They Want
This might actually come as a surprise, but some customers would actually be willing to pay MORE for something if they get great customer service. Creating a stellar customer experience - or, another acronym, CX - provides an incredible ROI, gives you customer loyalty like you wouldn't believe, and new customers based on what your customers say about your company. Listen to what your customers want.
Another element of a great customer communications management solution is omnichannel delivery. No matter what channel your customers want to hear from you - postal mail, email, social media, SMS or text messaging, phone calls, whatever - you should be able to deliver that.
"Hello, Customer No. 24601 ..." Les Misérables references aside, no one likes being a number. When you're not at work, you're a customer for other businesses. How do you like being treated by these businesses? Are you just a number to them? Do they even show the slightest interest in learning anything about you? Compare that with how your company currently treats your customers. Could you do better?
Customers want to feel as though you care about them. As part of the template management with good customer communications management, it's possible to include ads, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and more, in a relevant way for your customers. For example, the right CCM solution can evaluate a customer's bill, see they shop at a certain store, and provide a coupon to that store right on their bill. Or, if you work for a telecommunications company, a template can be set up so if a customer continues to hover around one level of data usage, a message can be added to their bill that says something along the lines of, "Hey, we noticed you continue to use X amount of data. For a few dollars more, you can upgrade to this new plan."
Help Them Help Themselves
Believe it or not, your customers want to have a say in how you communicate with them. Customer communications management helps empower your customers while reducing the strain on your support staff. By creating a system of self-service, your company will be able to build on your customer engagement and satisfaction by allowing them to receive what they want, when they want it, and what channel they wish to receive it. It all goes back to creating the best possible CX. If your customers are happy, your company will be happy. If they're not, you won't have any customers and you won't have to worry about customer communications management.
More to Learn About CCM
Of course, this is merely a sampling of everything that makes up a solid customer communications solution. Other things to consider are actionable customer journeys, document composition, and more. Below are some links to a few free downloads that will help fill in any blanks in the CCM puzzle you might have. Also, our staff here at Ecrion is friendly, knowledgeable, and will work with you to answer your questions and, if your company is ready, find the right customer communications management solution for you. Reach out to us by email at email@example.com, or give us a call at 1-866-418-3838. We look forward to helping you down the path to better customer communications.
Free Customer Communications Management Resources