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What has the biggest impact on the success of a customer communications management (CCM) project: people, process, or technology? It would be unfair to say all of the above, so I’ll go with people. This is because even the best tools and well-orchestrated processes will sit on the virtual shelf, gathering dust, without the right people to support it, fund it, or use it. The reality is that it takes a champion within the organization who can envision the possibilities and who will become an advocate for the adoption of the CCM solution.

To better understand the dynamics of the CCM market, IDC conducted a survey of organizations integrating CCM into their business practice—from simple formatting of billing and collection statements to more advanced strategies that drive business change for a holistic, seamless customer experience. We found that only 17.7% of organizations achieved the highest level of maturity (known as the Conversational communicator), those that optimize a wide range of internal and external systems to both better understand the customer and improve responsiveness throughout the supply chain. This group understands customer behavior, thereby, creating a seamless customer experience with the dual goals of increasing loyalty and wallet share throughout the customer life cycle.

A vast majority of respondents are still experimenting and expanding their use of CCM beyond a single department (75% to be exact). Within this group, more than a quarter (26.6%) of organizations fall under the category of Guiding communicator, which is characterized by the widespread adoption of quantitative metrics that assess the impact of CCM on customer satisfaction and behavior in order to drive real-time decision making.

“A vast majority of respondents are still experimenting and expanding their use of CCM beyond a single department.”

Those organizations that have not achieved this level of sophistication in real-time decision making or seamless multi-channel customer experiences are known as the Personalized communicator, and 23.3% of respondents we surveyed belong in this category. Nevertheless, this group also has a leadership team that understands the cost and complexities of effective outbound personalized communications, monitors performance metrics, and provides incentives for cross-division coordination through centralized communication budgets.

A small percentage (7.8%) of organizations remain in the earliest stages of maturity, where CCM is merely a revenue cycle tool that is limited to the periodic distribution of scheduled and structured documents and may still send correspondence via print and mail.

Improving the customer experience continues to be a large factor in digital transformation initiatives. With the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent process automation (IPA) bots to help augment work tasks, we may see technology supersede the importance of people when it comes to the success of a CCM project.

According to IDC's 2018 “Customer Communications Management MaturityScape Benchmark Survey,” 37% of respondents are actively looking at AI technologies to enhance their CCM effectiveness. Of these AI pioneers, 30% report an interest in conversational analytics that can assess sentiment and context in near-real time to aid in decision making. Another 20.7% report considering advanced text analytics for analysis of incoming communications. As you can see, there is a myriad of use cases for AI-enabled and advanced analytics to push the current maturity level of CCM into a new trajectory.

As CCM continues to be influenced by innovative technologies, it is vital for organizations to increase executive support and the necessary budgets to expand beyond the single department or process and step up to the next level of CCM maturity. We are at a turning point in which savvy leaders can embrace digital communications to transform the business across people, process, and technology.

Marci Maddox is the Research Manager for IDC's Enterprise Content Strategies program and is responsible for content workflow and content technologies research. She has 15 years of experience working with content and process applications at companies like OpenText and IBM and has helped clients realize the future of AI, IoT, and cloud benefits. Follow her on Twitter at @idcmarci or visit www.idc.com.
The convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology with customer communications management (CCM) systems has reached a decisive tipping point