The push to digital experiences will continue to grow as digital-savvy consumers demand that communications, invoices and, in general, customer service be available to them via their phones. That brings up concerns for any business with incohesive platforms. How can we meet the demands of today’s digital consumer with the tools we have? How can we drive consistent experiences across channels when different systems offer different personalization options? Organizations with multiple deployment systems requiring the same content to be copied and moved to various platforms, delaying deployment and leaving room for error will not survive in the emerging market.
The old rules of engagement have been thrown out the window. Today’s buyers are living in an age where they can order from Amazon in the morning and receive their item in the afternoon. Our customer communications management (CCM) platforms must be as nimble as Amazon’s delivery.
We have learned from the development of paper communications that creating a document template for each individual communication creates an unmanageable library of templates to maintain. Expanding the channels of communication to include a variety of digital options managed in distinct platforms further compounds this. With that in mind, let’s think about communicating in a way that makes sense: one message, multiple methods of distribution, from one system. We must think on an enterprise scale with a solution that can meet the needs of the various teams that are involved in customer communications. Smart companies are looking ahead and managing their content separately from the presentation wrapper. The right kind of content management system will connect to the various channels that are required and will leverage a modular content management paradigm that enables the right content component to be personalized and delivered across the right channel at the right time.
Rethinking the approach to content
How do we move to this new paradigm? First, we need to think about content differently. Content is not the same as the presentation layer. Content is the message and the presentation layer is the layout and delivery method. The message needs to be as agile as the market is, no matter what the end presentation is. This new way of thinking takes the focus away from single documents and focuses, instead, on renditions of content components.
In regulated industries, such as financial services, insurance and healthcare, that have historically relied heavily on composed printed customer communications, many digital experiences today consist of downloading static PDFs from emails or web portals. Consumers, particularly the digital-native Generations Y and Z, demand more dynamic experiences that are designed for the mobile devices they prefer. Those kinds of experiences require highly personalized content to be efficiently delivered in near real time. New headless CCM capabilities are available today to take advantage of a platform’s unique modular content management model to dynamically curate and deliver relevant, personalized content components to modern digital endpoints in response to API calls. Headless CCM leverages your CCM content repository and responds to API calls to provide the right content in JSON or HTML to digital endpoints. Since content is abstracted from the presentation layer, any front-end tool can display and format the content and deliver it. Headless CCM complements your website and mobile application frameworks by providing consistent content across all channels while allowing those frameworks to provide the presentation and delivery layer.
A content-driven approach puts power in the hands of the business to update and deploy content without delay, eliminating the need for IT to have to make the same content change in several systems and document and communications templates. Content can now be delivered in near real-time in response to API calls to digital endpoints based on the requirements for the media being delivered. This enables organizations to move beyond leveraging PDFs on a portal as a key strategy in their digital experiences. How many times have you opened a PDF on your mobile device only to discover it isn’t optimized for mobile or received an email that then sends you to a portal that doesn’t work on your mobile device? This type of poor digital experience is completely avoidable by enabling the content presentation to be determined by the digital endpoint system.
A case in point
One excellent example of how the buyer is changing the market toward a content-driven approach is a leading Canadian bank. The bank recognized customers wanted to be able to use their credit cards via their phone’s mobile app immediately after their account was approved versus waiting for a printed card to show up in the mail. To achieve this, the bank needed to present the customers with the Cost of Borrowing disclosure (COB) in the mobile app. This meant that, in addition to the printed communications that were typically created and mailed to the customer, the bank needed a high-performance, highly scalable way of pushing the right COB disclosure information (for that specific customer based on their card type and terms) to the customer’s mobile app.
The bank was able to share the COB disclosure as a dynamic content object to the mobile app, allowing the customer to receive their COB details immediately after approval, allowing them to use their credit card immediately. This is an example of the enterprise meeting market demand with customer communications that enabled the bank to:
Centralize control over the content with dynamic variations of relevant content
Provide sub-second response times for the best possible digital experience
The future of the document is changing. So is CCM.
Obviously, the future of work will still include communications and documents in various forms, but the way those documents are authored and delivered is changing. Digital experience is the way of the future. Mobile devices continue to have an important role in day-to-day interactions from digital wallets to social media posting and everything in between. To remain relevant and stay competitive, enterprises must embrace the digital world in a way that allows them to think modularly about their content to empower the ability to deliver timely messages. It’s time for businesses to move away from document-centric management models to more flexible modular content management approaches designed to support both old and new customer experiences.
Patrick Kehoe is Executive Vice President of Product Management for Messagepoint, Inc. an AI-powered customer communications management solution that automates and simplifies the process of migrating, optimizing, authoring, and managing complex customer communications for non-technical (business) users. Patrick has more than 25 years of experience delivering business solutions for document processing, customer communications, and content management.