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Many who read this publication are well aware of how complex it is to produce and manage certain types of customer communications. For example, take a look at a basic piece of correspondence. Just one letter alone may have 100 to 1,000 variations. Often, legacy customer communications management (CCM) solutions create a different letter for every one of these variations. When organizations need to make a universal change (such as a logo or, more commonly, a legal disclosure), this doesn't impact just that one letter—but all the different versions of that letter as well.

While the path to a better customer experience does require us to change the way we think about our content, it is a journey that is achievable. Here are four steps to not only deliver better content but a better customer experience as well.

Step 1: Clean Up Legacy Content

Optimizing your content starts with understanding what you have. This first step is primarily about:
  • Understanding what content is in the communications inventory so outdated information can be eliminated
  • Identifying opportunities to eliminate inconsistencies in messaging, branding, and formatting
  • Identifying opportunities to eliminate duplicate content and consolidate similar content for improved manageability
Inconsistencies in product descriptions, regulatory content, offers, salutations, and how an account number is referenced are all common occurrences that create confusion for customers and degrade the customer experience. Therefore, it’s critical to have brand and messaging standards in place before you begin your cleanup effort. To ensure consistency across the board, it’s also important for content authors and experts to lead this initiative.

While this step can be done manually, it can take months of hard labor to sort through the materials. There are more efficient and effective solutions out there that will do the analysis for you with purpose-built algorithms to do the heavy lifting.

Step 2: Rethink Your Content

Cleaning up your communications inventory also gives content authors the opportunity to rethink their content. Ask yourself these questions: Are you sending the right message? Does it resonate with your audience in the way you want it to? Is it written at an appropriate comprehension level? Does it contain jargon or technical terms that need to be defined?

According to Forrester research, those companies who make their customer communications clearer with plain and simple language can increase their Customer Experience Index score by 14 to 19 points. An improvement of that magnitude can translate into substantial increases in revenue for an organization.

Step 3: Share Content to Enable Agility

After optimizing your content, organizations need to develop a strategy for intelligently managing their content and communications. Content sharing is a critical aspect of this process.

Many of the same components used repeatedly in customer communications (e.g., logos, addresses, taglines, product descriptions, etc.) are stored in content libraries. Yet, they are managed separately. As a result, it’s not unusual for any kind of change to take weeks―even months. To help ease the content creation process and ensure consistency across your communications and documents, content authors should be able to access a shared repository of common content pieces as well as the ability to make a change just once and it be reflected across all documents. Not only will you be able to resolve a critical change management challenge, but you will also improve the quality of your communications.

This ability to share content should also include your templates with a parent/child structure. This means that organizations only need to create one template, and it passes down its core structure, format, and key pieces of content to all the "children" of that template, which could have unique content of their own. This kind of variation management enables you to deliver a consistent customer experience and ensure brand integrity.

Step 4: Embrace Advanced Personalization

The final step requires the ability to incorporate “advanced personalization” and doing so is made possible because of the first three steps. Advanced personalization isn’t just personalizing a letter with a customer’s name and specific loan information. Rather, it leverages data and intelligent content management to tailor graphics and marketing messages according to customer preferences and profiles. This is possible by leveraging communication management systems that integrate with key customer management portals and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, with the ability to efficiently create variations of communications and to leverage targeting rules that drive unique content according to those demographics.

By implementing these four steps, your content suddenly has more value. These steps alone can be challenging to adopt, but with the help of intelligent content management systems, these steps can be automated and streamlined to make them far easier and more effective. The bottom line is that if you make quality content the focus of your CCM strategy, improved customer experiences will naturally follow.

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