A recent research study by Aspire entitled, “The State of CCM-to-CXM Transformation” uncovered exciting intelligence on the radical changes transforming the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market on an evolutionary scale.
According to the study, the first and most important driver behind the evolution is a fundamental shift in enterprise priorities. Consumer expectations of instant access to relevant, personalized information has made customer experience an increasingly important metric in B2C communications. As a result, enterprise communication priorities are shifting from reducing cost and risk to increasing business value. The study also found that CX was the top priority for nearly two-thirds of the over 500 businesses surveyed globally, outpacing all other perennial customer communications concerns.
The second driver is the rapid pace of technological progress reshaping the communications landscape. Advances in emerging technologies, an exploding digital marketing technology ecosystem and rapid adoption through increasing business model innovation and license flexibility are all factors. Digitization, AI-assisted processing and data analysis can help enterprises realize the promise of true bi-directional interaction with customers instead of static, one-way messaging. CCM vendors are adjusting their approach in order to take advantage of these developments so that they can offer their clients the best chance for success in this new market paradigm.
The final transformative factor is the shift from on-premise installation to cloud-based distribution. While only 13% of businesses prefer to pay for CCM software through a subscription today, 43% reported they will be shifting to subscriptions within two years. Across all the surveyed organizations, job roles and verticals, CCM purchase preference is shifting toward subscriptions.
CCM cloud migration provides a range of benefits, both tactical (reduction in operating costs and security risks) and strategic (instant scalability and faster integration allowing experimentation in workflow). Ultimately, cloud-based distribution allows enterprises and service providers to integrate CCM with a wider set of digital technologies that optimize customer experience by putting consumers front and center.
Instant access to relevant information, personalized experiences on a preferred channel and consistent communications in terms of style, branding and tone-of-voice have become crucial elements of superior CX and all three of the primary dynamics behind CCM’s evolution share one thing in common: They are designed to enable business users to improve CX for the end consumer.
For this reason, CCM has become part of Customer Experience Management (CXM) — the practice of managing all customer interactions with the express purpose of improving the customer perception about that business. The zenith of this transformation would see an indelible shift from traditional outbound messaging triggered by regulatory requirements, toward customer-centric, two-way interactions based on consumer needs and calibrated to their preference and convenience.
This evolution is creating an ecosystem where any number of business solutions, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), process automation and more are extended with a communications or customer experience technology layer, and all the components are connected through an integration platform.
This ecosystem will be increasingly provisioned through cloud-based, micro-services architectures, continually optimized with the overarching goal of providing personalized, channel and device-agnostic communications and digital experiences at scale, all in the name of improved customer experience and increased business value. Aspire has mapped the path to maturity within this ecosystem into three stages defined by the business unit making communications decisions.
In the most rudimentary environments, IT continues to control CCM and the organization retains a document-centric perspective. Instead of being guided by coordinated strategy, their CCM investments are reactionary and defined in terms of cost and risk reduction. Investments are reactionary rather than proactive, initiated by the renewal of a print agreement, the end of a system life cycle or the passage of new regulatory requirements. Advancements tend to be more tactical in nature, like a “lift and shift” or migrating from print to digital communications, though, characteristically, this digital push is aimed at cutting postage expense rather than achieving a more valuable (albeit intangible) benefit, like improving CX.
As organizations advance along their evolutionary journey, the needs of the business eventually eclipse cost savings as the primary motivator in CCM investments and they enter the second stage. Investments in this transitionary stage are directed by the line of business and focused on securing the agility and adaptability necessary to achieve the fastest time to market through the customer’s preferred channel. While cost reduction still remains important to fund those new initiatives, the primary driver is to achieve higher customer satisfaction. However, needs are often expressed from an “inside-out” perspective that doesn’t consider actual consumer need, leading to requests for digital and mobile services and channels often without any understanding of what problem they solve or why they’re needed.
To reach the third and final stage of CXM maturity, organizations must place the needs of the customer ahead of the business when planning B2C communications strategy. True converts to CXM prioritize CX through data analytics and the development of meaningful customer and journey insights. Within these systems, customer communications are owned and managed by a centralized CX team or steering committee who understand the journeys that customers take across all touchpoints, continuously monitoring them to ensure that those experiences are optimized and relevant.
Aspire’s research found that businesses embracing a transformative strategy centered around customer interactions (instead of traditional one-way messaging) projected growth that is 23% greater than the average and 41% greater than their IT led counterparts. As the graphic below illustrates, an organization’s perception of customer communications naturally informs their CCM investments.
Savvy investment is a vital component of the journey to CXM maturity, but an organization cannot spend its way to full evolutionary success. Since customer experience is the sum of all interaction during the entire lifecycle, true transformation means evolving technology to fully understand customer behavior and the ability to interact in a channel and device-agnostic way, alongside organizational changes that overcome functional siloes and improve coordination and collaboration as well as developing more agile and automated processes. CXM strategy makes efficient use of customer data and insights to understand their needs, behavior and communication preferences, looking holistically across all touchpoints and channels to understand where the experience is broken and how it can be improved. If executed well, it will drive loyalty, retention, up-sell/cross-sell opportunities or reduced service cost.