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In framing one of the key issues during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential bid, campaign strategist James Carville famously said, "It's the economy, stupid." For document professionals responsible for customer communications management (CCM) within their organization, a key issue faced today might be stated similarly: "It's the content, dummy."

As a veteran who has watched the evolution of the CCM industry, I have witnessed firsthand the tendency to focus on finding the right CCM tools and technology available
instead of stepping back to answer two very important questions:
  • Are we creating the right content to deliver the customer experience (CX) we are trying to achieve?
  • How do we manage that content to ensure consistency in message and tone when we engage with the customer?
The point is that the best CCM tools on the market won't help you achieve your CX goals if you can't get the right content into the tool and manage it in an effective way. In my view, content is the most powerful weapon your organization has to impact the CX.

Research shows that 89% of customers switched to a competitor because of poor CX.

Unfortunately, as you well know, in many organizations, that content is trapped in a cluttered closet of disparate systems, making it difficult to have a cohesive content strategy. The story is all too familiar. Multiple departments and multiple systems are typically in place for different aspects of customer communications, each with their own distinct processes and requirements that take time, resources, and specialized expertise. Strategies and investments in one area, such as customer statements, are often planned for and implemented in isolation from other customer-facing communications in areas like marketing, compliance, or customer support. Without coordination among departments, consistency of messaging flies out the window.

We all recognize that the stakes for improving CX are high. Research shows that 89% of customers switched to a competitor because of poor CX. Additionally, 86% say they are willing to pay more if they receive a consistently superior experience. Moreover, analysts report that 50% of customers leave every five years, and two out of three cite inadequate CX as a reason for leaving. Clearly, customer loyalty is something that must not only be earned; it must also be maintained over time.

It is equally clear that the path to achieving and maintaining the desired CX will require leveraging each “customer appointment” with relevant and cohesive messaging—created from the right content—that builds loyalty, adds value, and enhances the experience of customers in new and more profitable ways.

All of this means you have a good business case to strengthen your organization's customer and client engagement programs across all channels. Customer-facing communications are a huge part of this engagement and have great influence on company performance—yet, we know that CCM rarely receives the same strategic attention as other fundamental activities within an enterprise, such as finance, human resources, and research and development, and is generally left to function in disconnected pockets of technology and processes.

To change that situation, you—as a CCM professional—are in the best position to lead the charge within your organization to explore another set of very important questions, including:
  • Are we putting our content in the hands of the business users who know our customers best and can use it to create the right message for our organization?
  • Do we have the right tools to manage complex content, without having to resort to cut-and-paste or duplication to make mass changes easier, as well as to ensure brand and regulatory compliance?
  • Are we able to tailor our content appropriately for different audiences, such as millennials versus seniors or English versus Spanish speakers?
  • Can we easily incorporate customer data, including demographics and transactional history, in the narratives and messages our business users create?
  • Are there streamlined rules as well as approval and production processes in place to ensure compliance and quick time-to-market with relevant content?
To succeed moving forward, every company will need to find ways to answer each of these questions in the affirmative. Achieving an excellent CX is critical, but it requires more than a set of CCM tools. It requires the right strategy for how your organization is going to engage with your customers by getting the content in front of them that will truly move the needle when it comes to their customer experience.

Patrick Kehoe is Executive Vice President of Product Management for Messagepoint, Inc.
Patrick has more than 25 years of experience delivering business solutions for document processing, customer communications, and content management. Prior to joining Messagepoint, he held the position of Worldwide Head of OpenText Exstream. For more information, visit www.messagepoint.com.