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A recent "U.S. CEO Outlook" survey by KPMG had a number of interesting and noteworthy findings. Chief among them was the fact that more than two-thirds of the chief executive officers (CEOs) believe that the next three years will be more critical for their industries than the previous 50. Major drivers for this outlook include the rapid progression in technologies, a more informed and powerful consumer, and the intensifying pressure to innovate.

According to Steve Chase, KPMG's US Management Consulting leader, "Firms that focus on the customer experience while bringing automation, speed, and agility to the back office will be well-positioned to respond to market dynamics."

It's a point well taken, but it is also easier said than done.

What will your organization need to do in the next three years to effectively drive the customer experience? It’s no secret that document professionals have struggled to deliver the customer experience they would like to—often due to the current state of their customer communications management (CCM) systems. It's an all-too-familiar story where multiple departments and multiple systems are in place for different aspects of customer communications, each with its own distinct process and requirements that take time, resources, and specialized expertise. Strategies and investments in one area, such as customer statements, for example, may be planned for and implemented in isolation from other customer-facing communications in areas like marketing, compliance, or customer support.

"Firms that focus on the customer experience while bringing automation, speed, and agility to the back office will be well-positioned to respond to market dynamics."

These overly complex and siloed systems fail to support the rapidly evolving needs of CCM, creating an Achilles' heel for even the most sophisticated enterprises, but a rip-and-replace strategy may not make sense—especially in a short three-year time period. So, how can your organization meet the customer experience challenge that lies ahead?

An alternative approach to tradition

One approach worth consideration is to leverage cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) technologies that are agnostic to the delivery system and integrate with your existing print composition and digital channels to accelerate the delivery of agile and responsive customer communications. With this approach, editing content will not require any programming or specialized information technology (IT) resources. Rather, a collaborative, self-service ecosystem can be created in which business users are able to use easy-to-use, web-based editing tools to enter or change communications content. Self-service proofing and testing can enable users to see what content will look like in real time. It is also possible to define a web-based approval workflow to ensure that only the content changes approved by the appropriate person or persons make it into production.

A commonly raised concern about adopting a cloud-based approach of this kind is security. However, a hybrid cloud model can solve this concern by enabling users to manage content and rules in the cloud while customer data remains behind an organization's firewall.

Finding the needed agility to support success

Businesses continue to need the ability to communicate new information quickly. Whether supporting marketing objectives or compliance, time to market with new information is more important than ever before. New and changing regulatory mandates are also putting pressure on many companies to get information to market faster.

Look closely at a SaaS CCM approach as you plan for the immediate future, especially ones that integrate with your existing delivery systems that you’ve heavily invested in. It offers a means to simplify the complexity that exists in the CCM infrastructure of most organizations, making it possible to deliver the agility and automation needed to ensure the highest customer experience.

Nick Romano, P. Eng., is co-founder and CEO of Prinova, a provider of customer communications management software. Contact him at Follow Prinova on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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