In every business, customer communications are key to success. Getting it right drives the revenue stream and increases customer engagement. Customer communications are also an important way organizations retain customers and get paid.

    So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Customer Communications Management (CCM) has become a top operational opportunity once again. Readers may remember the dawn of CCM decades ago, when the concern was transitioning customer communications data from legacy mainframes to the desktop Windows environment. CCM provided a way to modernize those operations.

    Now, increasing regulatory demands, supporting mobile and digital channels, and managing recipient delivery preferences are changing the customer communications landscape. Physical mail is often not well-integrated with digital communications, so there is a growing need to unify digital and physical CCM.

    Modernizing CCM Leveraging the Cloud

    To address these challenges, businesses need solutions to help them more effectively manage all the components of the physical and digital customer communications process. The underpinning of the drive to modernize CCM relies on a couple of key innovations:

    1.CCM delivered as a cloud service. Cloud-based means you don’t have to make a big upfront investment; instead, you only pay for what you use. Putting CCM in the cloud gives you centralized control, the agility to stay up-to-date with technology changes, and the flexibility to meet varying customer communications needs. And an enterprise-wide CCM cloud service can help better manage client communications across increasingly distributed offices and agile work environments.

    2.CCM incorporates document management enrichment technology to make the communication more effective. The challenge of modernizing documents created in legacy systems remains significant. Powerful document management enrichment tools that easily enable changes to fully composed documents are becoming available through the cloud in a way that is easier to use and much more affordable. Now organizations of all sizes can simply access and use these powerful tools to enhance the value of the document to increase cross-selling, reduce customer support costs, and get paid faster.

    3.The CCM cloud is enabling innovation through the addition of new services like personalized and interactive video to further personalize customer communications, reduce costs, and drive cross-selling.

    Leveraging Cloud Services to Modernize CCM

    STEP 1: Modernize Create. The challenge here is aging document templates and inconsistent branding that’s difficult to change. Poorly designed statements confuse customers who then call for help, resulting in delayed payments and wasted time and money spent on customer support.

    A good CCM solution can modernize documents by adding color, simplifying design, and unifying branding. Print stream enhancement technology in the cloud makes all this easy to do — statements become more understandable, call volumes go down, and customers pay faster.

    STEP 2: Modernize Manage. Businesses often have different people printing to different devices in different locations, all while using different letterheads, envelopes, and processes for the same kinds of documents! Businesses often find it difficult to manage all their equipment and supplies, keep the lid on costs, and maintain brand quality. And customers become increasingly dissatisfied with inconsistent customer experiences and errors arising from manual processes.

    Here, a cloud-based CCM solution can get all systems, people, and communications on the same page. It captures all documents from everywhere to anywhere and makes sure they’re funneled through a single system. It lets you centralize and control communications in an ecosystem of quality.

    STEP 3: Modernize Validate. In today’s fast-moving world, it’s a challenge to keep customer mail and email addresses up to date. Yet poor data quality means delivery delays, increased DSO, and undeliverable mail and email costs.

    When a CCM solution is cloud-based, it’s always up to date with the latest USPS information. It can validate and correct customer data so communications reach the intended recipients. This efficiency reduces undeliverable costs and increases on-time deliveries, cash flow, and customer satisfaction.

    STEP 4: Modernize Produce. In producing customer communications, organizations are challenged by the rising costs of printing and assembling mail. Increased regulations put extra pressure on these processes, with bigger consequences for not complying within prescribed timeframes, such as serious fines and litigation costs. Manual processes lead to errors, and when bills are delivered to the wrong recipient, payments are delayed.

    A good CCM cloud solution can help you mitigate the risk of errors, as well as decrease operating costs by adding quality control technology to the production and assembly of customer communications. Through innovations like file-based processing, clients have complete assurance that every document reaches only the intended recipient. Through the cloud, these advanced software features are now available and affordable to the SMB marketplace.

    These new CCM solutions also protect and increase your investment in existing equipment and software by enabling centralized production and reducing or eliminating inefficient operations. SaaS allows you to gather information across the organization and make sure all communications are centralized on one system… from everywhere to anywhere. With SaaS-based CCM, a remote office or an employee working from home can generate customer communications that are then funneled through an on-premises, centralized mail center; an off-premises service bureau; or, in some cases, both.

    STEP 5: Modernizing Sending. The challenge happens when an organization’s current platform limitations prevent them from meeting their digital transformation goals. Core platforms can be expensive to change and become quickly outdated.

    Today, digital email and physical mail are the principal channels of customer communications. But soon those digital channels may include consumer apps, such as Evernote and Dropbox, and social media platforms. The CCM cloud approach ensures that as new digital communication channels become available, they will seamlessly and securely be enabled on the platform.

    In summary, while we can’t predict the future needs of our clients, we do know that those needs will change rapidly. As leaders in our industry, we need to continuously modernize CCM by putting the tools and platforms in place to meet the uncertain future. As organizations reinvent themselves, modernizing CCM via the cloud is an essential part of the customer engagement toolkit.

    Patrick Brand is Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global SMB Products and Business Strategy, Pitney Bowes.