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There are many valid reasons why enterprises choose to outsource their document production to a third-party service provider. First, and most important, it provides companies with more time to focus on core company initiatives. It also offers a peace of mind to know you are producing customer communications with a service provider that has taken the steps to be SSAE No. 16 certified and PCI DSS compliant, ensuring your company won’t experience costly data breaches. Additionally, outsourcing document production means a company can also gain access to the best and latest in technology without having to invest and support new hardware or software (as well as training staff), as these technologies—and the demand for them—continue to change rapidly.

Choosing to outsource the production of customer communications, rather than producing them in-house, does relieve a company of the burden of having to manage capital-intensive processes that take valuable time from the business and handling complex compliance and regulatory requirements. However, in a world where a customer-centric approach is now a requirement for success, it is also important to ensure that the benefits gained from outsourcing do not come at the expense of a company’s ability to ensure communications sent to customers are personalized and relevant.

Most organizations know that sending targeted and personalized communications to customers increases loyalty and revenue, but losing access to and control of your company’s data and document processes due to outsourcing can make it a difficult task to manage. Making even the smallest changes can be costly, slow and frustrating. Added to this is the fact that no one is more knowledgeable about your company’s offerings, your marketing strategies, your preferences and needs than your own customer-facing employees.

So, what is the fix? You can find it in one word that is changing the face of business: collaboration.

Establishing a collaborative approach can be a win-win for both a company and its third-party production partner. For example, there are technology platforms designed to integrate seamlessly with established composition tools that can combine externally referenced content and rules with composition logic through the production process. The platform itself should provide an intuitive interface for non-technical users to easily visualize and build out content and rules intended for each touchpoint. Implementing a customer communications platform that enables easy collaboration for customer-facing staff to complete interactive, personalized communications that engage customers during the production process can also give a vendor partner the opportunity to offer more on their end, should they choose to do so.

With evolving technology, new delivery models are available today to provide a single system to manage all messages and customer data, as well as maintain the consistency of communications across all channels that customers now expect. Most recently, analyst firm Madison Advisors published a report that studied this trend. “CCM Hosted Managed Services: Changing the Paradigm in Customer Communications Management” identifies the emergence of a new category of delivery services called customer communications management (CCM) hosted managed services (HMS) as the ideal solution for many organizations looking to focus initiatives on an overall customer engagement strategy, rather than the day-to-day logistics of creating and distributing communications. The report indicates continued growth for this shared delivery model in the coming years.

Companies and their service provider partners looking for ways to share in executing customer communications cost-effectively while differentiating themselves from the competition should take a close look at what it will take to successfully implement a collaborative delivery model that avoids the communication trap that often exists in the company/service provider relationship. If you believe the adage, “time is money,” then it is well worth the time to investigate.

Nick Romano specializes in business process reengineering for enterprises migrating to new document delivery solutions. His primary expertise is on implementing messaging and personalization strategies, workflows and ROI tracking. He is a popular international speaker on the implementation of successful document solutions, with topics ranging from design, messaging and personalization to shop floor automation and advances in document delivery. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario with a bachelor's degree in engineering and management. Follow him on Twitter @nickrprinova.

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