Four Critical Steps to Making the Right Investment in Customer Communications Management Technology

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Feb 1, 2013

Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a shift in thinking as it relates to the role of customer communications within enterprises. Documents like bills, statements, policies, explanations of benefits, and other correspondence that were once relegated to back-office corporate operations are turning into critical communications that can help enhance the overall customer experience. Here are several key trends influencing this renewed interest in customer communications:

  • Traditional delivery methods—like printed mail—remain favorable to a significant percentage of the population and, in many industries, are required for regulatory compliance. As a result, these channels remain vital to support customer experience.
  • Multi-channel delivery and presentment of correspondence now factor into consumer buying choices. Customers want to be communicated within their channel(s) of preference.
  • Emergent channels like mobile and social media are increasingly becoming channels of communication preference by customers, creating new opportunities for customer engagement across all interaction points.

Companies are reacting to the need to step up their customer experience game by replacing legacy technologies and processes with modern platforms that can holistically manage customer communications across all lines-of-business within an enterprise. As they search for solutions to meet their needs, potential buyers encounter a crowded and sometimes overwhelming technology landscape, making it difficult to determine which solution is the right one to select for their business.

InfoTrends, on behalf of Customer Communications Management (CCM) technology provider HP Exstream, recently examined the critical success factors in evaluating and selecting the right technology platform to help modernize enterprises’ infrastructure for reaching customers with the right message at the right time in the preferred mediums. Through in-depth interviews with seasoned customer communications professionals, InfoTrends uncovered four critical steps that all enterprises investigating an investment in CCM need to take to ensure they make a smart, informed decision:

  1. Conduct due diligence: Enterprises that come to the decision to replace legacy customer communications technologies and processes need to conduct due diligence to mitigate risk and ultimately select a solution that meets their business needs. Following a number of key best practices will lead to the right decision.
  2. Achieve organizational alignment: Conducting an effective evaluation and selection process requires alignment of key stakeholders across the enterprise–line-of-business managers, marketing executives, financial executives, business users, and information technology–to help accurately uncover, document, and communicate requirements to vendors.
  3. Clearly articulate needs: The days of asking vendors to fill out a laundry list of features for requests-for-proposal are over. When enterprises develop their requests-for-proposal, they should craft a brief that includes their overarching customer communications vision supported by infrastructure, application, delivery, and customer requirements.
  4. Demand a proof-of-concept: Proofs-of-concept should be a requirement for all prospective vendors to develop as part of the evaluation. They will help uncover how vendors’ solutions stack up against each other, address the needs they claim to support in their proposals, as well as provide more insight on the development effort required and technology components used to better understand the scope of costs.

Modern CCM technologies have incredible power to help transform and add value to correspondence with customers, but most also require a substantial investment to acquire and implement. As a result, the risk associated with not performing a thorough evaluation and selection of technology can be substantial. If the wrong platform is chosen and needs to be replaced, it can be very costly in terms of wasted resources and missed opportunities.

Our recently-published whitepaper, entitled “Navigating Customer Communications Management Technology: Approaches for Making the Right Investment for Your Organization,” provides a comprehensive overview of how enterprises in highly-regulated industries like financial services, insurance, and healthcare can follow these four critical steps to find a solution that aligns with their needs. By taking the time to conduct due diligence, achieve organizational alignment, clearly articulate needs to vendors, and demanding a proof-of-concept to ensure that needs are truly being met, a CCM investment decision can be made with a high degree of confidence.

InfoTrends conducts extensive and in-depth research related to the multi-channel customer communications landscape, Customer Communications Management technology, and customer experience personalization. These studies aim to provide actionable insight for enterprises, service providers, and technology providers about how digital and physical communications can enhance customer relationships in a fast-paced, dynamic market.

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