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Many of the 2015 articles about customer communications focused on the benefits of thinking about customer experience. In 2016, information technology (IT) project owners will be moving customer experience from theory to practice, dealing with the intersection where real projects are measured by their success in terms of customer experience-related metrics.

Forbes kicked off 2016 with a great article about “the year of the customer.” It is similar to a number of great articles in the past few months covering the new concepts that were bouncing around the boardroom in 2015. Many analyst firms, thought leaders and journalists have been sharing the same thoughts and theories for some time now. However, in 2016, thoughts and theories are going to turn into projects, with deadlines, metrics and learning.

It’s clear that companies are putting their money behind these initiatives. In 2015, Gartner Research stated, “There are over 900 chief customer officers and over 3,000 people with the job title of head (or director) of customer experience.”

If you start to triangulate the articles on this topic, you will see that the theories on customer experience are turning into practical project requirements, and you can see that new roles are starting to take responsibility for the customer experience in a way that is measurable and accountable. In the past year, I’ve been introduced to a chief customer officer, a chief digital officer, a chief experience officer and a vice president of customer experience. This shift is happening across finance, insurance, telecommunications and even utilities and government, which is supported by original research from Forrester’s Megan Burns on connecting communications to customer experience.

If you want to be really proactive, you can choose to organize around omnichannel communication execution.

As a DOCUMENT Strategy reader, you will likely be working on something that has (or soon will have) oversight by a person or team that is responsible for customer experience in some way. Typically, this work rolls out as a team focused on customer experience. This team has to start somewhere, often by creating some customer journey maps. You want to get involved in this process if you can. DOCUMENT Strategy readers arguably own more of your company’s communication-related intellectual property than almost anyone else in the organization. Not participating in these sessions could possibly be your largest missed career opportunity for the next five years.

So, how do you get involved? First, start by asking your managers if there are any corporate goals related to customer experience this year. You can also ask if the company is actively developing a customer journey map. If there is a customer journey map, ask to see it. If you can participate in the journey mapping sessions, you can provide input into what business, regulatory, technical or other forces present opportunities or problems for the important communications that support your customer experience.

Raise your hand to participate in projects that support a refreshed customer experience. In the Forbes article mentioned above, you will see that omnichannel, demographics and context are aspects of more than one of the trends listed. As you work on the printed pages, PDFs, web pages, emails, texts, tweets, direct messages, notifications and other communications that form the basis of your customers’ experiences, you will be tasked with supporting messages that execute across multiple channels. More of these messages than ever before will require slight customization to adapt to the etiquette, norms, content or size limitations of the channels.

This is going to require you to work with colleagues in some new ways. You will want to find creative ways to support the many channels, messages and projects that bring your experiences to life. You will be better equipped to handle communications as they are pulled toward a customer experience focus. You should consider all of the ways you can support this.

If you are reactive, you will end up managing each channel separately, causing redundant designs, content integrations, proof processes and quality checks. This will start to eat your budget, reduce your flexibility and create inflexible customer experiences. If you want to be really proactive, you can choose to organize around omnichannel communication execution, which can streamline the design, content customization, proof and deployment processes for every type of communication.

Your turn
What proactive steps will you take this month to ensure your involvement in creating a positive customer experience? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.

Scott Draeger is vice president of product management at GMC Software Technology, a provider of multi-channel and highly personalized document outputs for customer communications management. For more information, visit www.gmc.net or follow him on Twitter @scottdraeger.
 

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