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It’s no secret that digital channels have become foundational to the delivery of customer communications, with customers increasingly indicating mobile apps, SMS, email and other digital delivery methods as their preferred channels of contact. This evolution in the CCM space extends from changes that began in the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when a growing need for virtual customer service spurred mass digital transformation across nearly every industry. Although pandemic-era restrictions have been lifted, it’s clear these digital channels are here to stay. According to Gartner, CCM is rapidly shifting toward digital-only delivery with a projected 50% of transactional communications being exclusively digital by 2025.

This movement toward digital delivery can have a significant positive impact on customer experience, particularly as consumers continue to prioritize speedy, personalized communications accessed via the platform of their choice. This is especially the case for younger consumers, including millennials and Gen Z, whose comfort with digital technologies is fueling the focus on mobile apps and websites for everything from onboarding to transactional communications. Research from Aspire Customer Communications Services shows that customer experience leaders who prioritize the adoption of consistent omnichannel communications throughout every stage of the customer relationship can grow their revenue at a rate that’s 41% faster than those who are slower to adopt these technologies.

However, this shift leaves enterprises with the challenge of managing the same data, content and targeting rules across a variety of platforms and systems — which leads to redundancy, long turnaround times and change cycles, and the risk of inconsistencies and errors. Enter headless CCM, a capability that separates the content from the presentation layer, allowing for stronger governance and control over the content in addition to supporting reuse across both print and digital experiences.

What is headless CCM?

By managing content for communications separately from the presentation layer (i.e., document template, email template, HTML template), it is ultimately easier for business users to manage that content. Headless CCM enables non-technical teams to control the content authoring process and reuse content and rules across various platforms, ensuring communications are consistent, personalized, compliant and appropriate for the channel on which they’re accessed.

One useful concept derived from content marketing is COPE, an acronym that stands for “create once, publish everywhere.” This refers to the idea of publishing the same piece of content in multiple places, whether that’s in different communications or on different platforms. CORE, which stands for “create once, repurpose everywhere,” is another important concept to understand. Unlike COPE, where the content is the same on every platform, CORE encompasses the ability to create a rendition of the content tailored to meet the specifications of individual platforms. For example, a message that’s drafted for access via a mobile app or SMS will use simpler, more concise language than may be presented via a print channel.

It can be especially challenging for enterprises working to expand their customers’ range of channel options, while also ensuring consistent messaging and compliance from platform to platform. Although it’s true the content and voice of communications should be consistent from one channel to the next, this does not mean the same message should be delivered in the same way across all points of contact since length and format often must be refined for each channel. For example, a PDF that’s readable on a large desktop monitor won’t offer the same experience when accessed via a mobile phone, where customers will need to pinch, zoom and scroll on their screen in order to access all text.

Optimizing the contents of a document or PDF for viewing on a mobile device will likely involve making parts of the message more concise, perhaps by using shorter fragments of text, as opposed to the lengthier paragraphs that might appear in a PDF. In addition, the content should be displayed through a responsive page in a mobile app or mobile-optimized portal site so that it adapts to the size of the screen and orientation of the phone. Creating separate versions of the content and managing it in multiple systems would be time-consuming and labor-intensive, which is where headless CCM comes in.

In a headless CCM environment, the document (or PDF) mentioned is actually broken down and stored in logical content component pieces. Each content component can have renditions for different channels and different variations for states, products, offer variations and so on. These content components can be dynamically assembled to compose a document, an email or some other traditional composed communication or they can be shared out to a mobile app or a web page via headless APIs. This approach fully embraces the COPE and CORE concepts and allows for the greatest efficiency possible in content authoring and personalization. It also helps to ensure consistency and compliance when expanding to incorporate multiple channels into the experience you provide.

Headless CCM capabilities separate the presentation layer from the content authoring and management layer and allows the same content to be used in a variety of technologies and channels. This is contrasted with a traditional CCM approach in which each channel and output format must be tightly linked with the authoring system. While traditional CCM locks customers into their ecosystem and delivery technologies, a headless CCM approach allows customers to integrate content into their existing mobile applications and web sites much more easily.

Headless CCM and personalization

Not surprisingly, communications addressed using generic terms (for example, “Dear Homeowner” or “To Whom This is Addressed”) typically don’t have the response rates of those with more personalized greetings. While adding in personal data has been the traditional approach to personalization, going far beyond that can be a logistical nightmare for organizations using a traditional CCM approach. Headless CCM enables organizations to embrace personalization at a deeper level by increasing the relevancy of communications and experiences. By having variations of content components that can be dynamically assembled to create a document, the content for a mobile app or a web page according to the unique requirements of each individual customer, it becomes much faster and easier to enhance the personalization of communications. This approach streamlines the content authoring process, eliminates the need to manage multiple redundant communication templates across systems and enables organizations to scale their personalization efforts efficiently.

Adopting a more modular approach through headless CCM — particularly a low- or no-code platform — is the way of the future. Organizations that strive to serve customers across multiple channels can only achieve agility, speed and consistency by centralizing control over their content and making it accessible via headless APIs.

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

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