The Customer Journey as the New Paradigm for Customer Communications Management

David Stabel
Mar 19, 2015

The paradigm for Customer Communications Management (CCM) has changed throughout the years, shifting from transactional mainframe printing to the enablement of personalized and targeted communications, from cost-based to profit-enabling with TransPromo, and from customer service to managing the customer experience. The discussions around customer communications today are about optimizing customer engagement or optimizing ALL customer engagements (touchpoints) that a customer experiences when interacting with a brand (i.e., a customer’s journey). In this blog, I briefly discuss what makes up a customer’s journey and how CCM can be a part of it.

The Customer Communications Journey

The Customer Journey

A customer journey is, in essence, a map of engagements between the customer and a company during the customer life cycle (see the red and yellow circle in the Figure above). It represents the key stages the customer goes through when engaging with a company. It is a customer-centric view and involves all touchpoints (engagements) that the customer has with the company. Companies are engaging in the customer journey with specific business objectives for each touchpoint or customer life stage (see the blue circles in the Figure above).

A customer journey possesses some fundamental characteristics that need special attention by companies in adapting to the customer journey concept. Let’s look at the key characteristics and how CCM can help companies in addressing them.

Rewiring Organizations
Organizations are typically organized in a functional way. Sales is responsible for closing deals or account management. Marketing is responsible for attracting and retaining customers and develop the brand. The help desk is responsible to answer customer questions and to delegate problems to the right organizational function. Service is responsible to solve customer problems. In actually, however, customers are engaging with a brand in a cross-functional way. They are not interested in the different functional areas of the companies they engage with. Therefore, there is a gap between the customer journey and the way companies are organized. This means that companies need to rewire their functional organization around the customer journey. CCM technology and processes can help organizations to break down organizational boundaries, for example, by having a centralized communications hub or a cross-functional team responsible for customer communications initiatives (a CCM Center of Excellence).

Omni-channel Engagements
Customers engage with companies based on their communication preferences or based on the communication channels offered by the company. Each individual touchpoint will have its dedicated communication channel(s). This means that a customer journey uses multiple channels by default. When we speak about multiple channels, there are different possible strategies and not all will fit well with a customer journey. InfoTrends defines the different channel strategies as follows:

  • Single channel: Communicate in one direction with the customer (typically print-centric).
  • Multi-channel: This is about a company that can communicate to its customers through different channels. However, there is no data and business process integration of each individual channel.
  • Cross-channel: This is about the business process integration aspect across all channels. Customers can “switch” between channels to continue the engagement, but data is not integrated.
  • Omni-channel: True integration of data and business processes, enabling true interactive communications along preferred communication channels in real-time.

What is essential here is that the customer is able to “switch” from one channel to another throughout the engagement process in real-time. For example, the customer can start an engagement by looking for information on a company’s website and continue this engagement by calling the company’s help desk to ask for additional information. This is only possible with an omni-channel strategy in place. CCM technology can be a critical element in this process as it allows the company to implement a true omni-channel strategy.

End-to-End Responsibility
Typically, multiple owners exist that are responsible for individual touchpoints within a company. This is the result of the service management era, where service excellence of individual touchpoints is driven by operational KPIs. For example, a call-center operator typically wants to close an interaction with a customer ASAP to drive the call-to-resolution KPI up. By doing so, however, valuable opportunities for cross/up-selling and for building customer loyalty and advocacy are neglected. These opportunities are created by spending more quality time with the customer. CCM technology can play a leading role in providing organizations an end-to-end view of the individual touchpoints within the customer journey while, at the same time, supporting the optimization of individual customer engagements with targeted and relevant content. This will enable an organization to take responsibility over the total customer journey.

InfoTrends and the CCM Market

InfoTrends tracks the customer communications market very closely, and is a leading provider of research in this area. It is currently conducting a study among enterprises in the U.S. and Western Europe to provide insights in the demand for CCM and customer engagement strategies, as well as to understand technology and customer communications trends, implementation challenges, and technology adoption. The study results will be available in Q2 2015.

InfoTrends’ analysts Kaspar Roos and David Stabel will present the highlights of these results during the Exploration 15 conference in Orlando, Florida, U.S., and during the Document Strategy Forum ’15 in  Greenwich, Connecticut (U.S.).

InfoTrends’ customer communications advisory services:

  • Customer Engagement Technologies (CET)
  • Transactional Communications and Payments (TCP)
  • Enterprise Document Strategy Service for In-plant Print Providers (EDSS)
  • Online Ultimate Guide to CCM.



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