March 14 2024 08:55 AM

Eliminating systems silos will improve communications and lead to a better customer experience

In today’s market, customers have more choices than ever. Robust internet access has made it easier to find alternative providers. When organizations don’t align their customer communications to the customer’s expectations, customers may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Strong customer communications management (CCM) requires organizations to identify how their customers prefer to receive communications, manage the customer preferences effectively and deliver across multiple channels. In addition, organizations are challenged with balancing the use of digital channels with state and federal regulations supporting accessibility and privacy.

Data Silos

Data silos are software systems that do not communicate with each other, leading to inefficiency and the inability to communicate with customers in a consistent fashion. For an organization with multiple lines of business or departments, each of which manage customer data separately, the silos disrupt the holistic view of the customer. Additionally, individual systems may contain expired or inconsistent customer data, leading to a fragmented customer experience.

To produce successful customer communications that engage the recipient, organizations need the ability to build a single view of the customer and each customer’s preferences. A number of technologies available today enable the collection of customer data from disparate corporate sources in order to deliver consistent message across multiple channels and in accordance with customer preferences to create a better customer experience.

Digital marketing efforts, too, benefit from data integration by linking customer data and preferences, creating opportunities to cross-sell products and services and provide value for your customers. However, another challenge arises in the effort to balance the benefits of accessible customer data with data security and compliance.

Managing Customer Preferences

Customer preference management involves the collection, organization and utilization of customer preferences to enhance their experiences with the organization. By doing this, organizations gain an understanding of individual customer choices, whether they pertain to products, services or communication channels. Through this, it is possible to provide personalized and relevant experiences, leading to more targeted digital outreach and increased customer satisfaction.

However, to achieve these results, there is a need to centralize customer preferences across the enterprise. Customer data can be held in several different systems and duplicated if the customer does business with multiple lines of business within the organization. But each customer’s preferences for communications needs to be managed by a centralized system capable of collecting the preference data from the various back-office systems and using the data to personalize the communication types and channels used for each customer.

Effective customer preference management goes beyond basic personalization and actively involves customers in the decision-making process. By managing customer-provided preferences across all parts of an enterprise, it is possible to deliver tailored experiences, allowing businesses to build stronger relationships, drive customer loyalty and achieve better business outcomes.

Data mining tools enable the ability to extract customer data from multiple systems and use one or more key fields, such as phone numbers and email addresses, to connect customer records accordingly. In addition, some customer data management solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze customer preferences to make connections where key field data is missing.

Building Trust

An ever-expanding array of data privacy regulations have been introduced to cover more than 75% of the world’s population. The regulations define the customer’s data privacy rights and dictate how and when organizations provide notifications or respond to customer requests to explain how data is collected and where the information is stored.

An organization’s reputation for safe data handling elicits customer trust and increases the likelihood that customers will consent to having their data collected, balancing the data privacy requirements with an enhanced customer experience.

Digital ADF

Bridging the gap between physical and digital customer communications becomes increasingly important as organizations add support for digital communications channels. A traditional automated document factory (ADF) manages the production and distribution of physical mail pieces with full tracking and audit capabilities.

A digital ADF consists of an integrated set of software systems capable of managing the production and distribution of customer communications across multiple channels. To be successful, the digital ADF relies on integration between the digital and physical production systems. The ADF’s management and auditing capabilities require data from the various production systems in order to coordinate actions between all the production systems.

Customers may prefer to receive communications digitally, either by text or email; however, certain documents, such as bills or notices, require delivery verification. If a digital document fails to reach the customer, the organization’s systems should be able to fall back to an alternate digital channel or generate a physical mailpiece.

Effective customer communications are the key to providing a good customer experience. Leading organizations across all vertical markets are at some stage in their digital transformation, including the transformation of digital communications. Success requires a broad CCM strategy consisting of the right tools and practices not only to retain existing customers, but to expand market share. Organizations must be ready to adopt the right technology in parallel with a robust strategy.

Richard Huff is Senior Analyst at Madison Advisors, an independent analyst and market research firm that addresses the needs of the electronic and print customer communications management marketplace. Visit

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