Over 20 years ago when I started my career as a mainframe analyst, loading magnetic tapes of data to produce the overnight utility bills, Customer Communication Management (CCM) software was the buzzword at the time, like the modern day Blockchain or AI.
This software enabled businesses to make changes to bills in days and not weeks, allowing the speed of change on outbound communications to be a much quicker process due to the Mainframe IT support team not being involved! The business had already realized that customers read their bills (multiple times) and stuck them to the front of the fridge until the due date arrived and the bills were paid over the counter. This was a successful channel to by which to engage with the customer base and enabled businesses to use transactional documents to add messaging to educate, inform and cross sell to the customer.
CCM is defined by the research company Gartner as “the strategy to improve the creation, delivery, storage and retrieval of outbound communications, including those for marketing, new product introductions, renewal notifications, claims correspondence and documentation, and bill and payment notifications” (Gartner 2015).
CCM has had to change and develop as both the business and customer requirements have evolved over time. The standard process was to print, mail and have Australia Post deliver the communications to the customer (still the case in some sectors). In the early 2000s the option to email documents instead of print was developed, print in full colour as opposed monochrome (Black and White), SMS via mobile phones and the presentment of digital archives to allow customers to self-serve via web sites and customer portals.
I personally think that the Gartner definition of CCM under plays the importance and value of data that is generated and can be utilised by a successful CCM business process. A significant opportunity exists to fix compliance issues and also develop and implement a successful CCM solution that uses customer data to enhance brand assurance and integrity. We need to include contact and transactional information of course, but now we need to enrich data to include preference management, media type, marketing information, bench marking and operational information as and when required and appropriate.
More recently new communication channels and payment options have been released than ever before. Think about how the impact of social media, a mobile first communication strategy, SMS enhancements, mobile phone application developments have changed CCM processes and how they integrate with the new payment channels such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
A significant increase in the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as part of the CCM solution has led to CCM providers now having software development capabilities in house. I see this as a natural progression due to the amount of network traffic and data used in providing the CCM solution.
Then of course there is a level of reporting and analysis (including a full audit trail) that can be fed back to the business relating to email open rates, channel of choice per customer, device preferences, time preferences, API usage and how the customer interacted with your communication/business process. Through many of the channels we can capture raw data from your customer base and provide it back to you in a report capable of being ingested automatically into your ERP, CRM or Billing platforms.
CCM is linked to and closely follows the latest technology trends, with customer and business requirements ever changing – change is constant. The use of video as a medium of communication has increased significantly over the past 5 years, with the latest generation of customers being more engaged with YouTube than any other channel. Video bills are here already and the statistics are impressive on the level of customer engagement as well as business efficiencies gained by adopting this channel.
With the increased amount of data in use and stored to deliver an efficient CCM solution, security and data privacy best practices are extremely important. The constant threat from cyber-attack or a breach in security protocol present a high risk to businesses that needs to be proactively managed in the current landscape.
What’s next for CCM – I wish I had a crystal ball! My one piece of advice is to focus on building partnerships with suppliers that can future proof your platform and communications. Create an “Ikea affect”, build a solution together and both parties will value it more. Only suppliers that add value to your business should become part of your ecosystem and help you achieve your goals.
The new version of Samsung family hub smart fridges come with new web interfaces so you can read the morning news, weather forecast and watch a video or TV. We will be able to deliver bills to the fridge directly very soon for all the family to see as well as pay the bill by using the payment integration with the fridge!
Change is constant, are you ready?
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