Customer communication management (CCM) is defined as the strategy to improve the creation, delivery, storage and retrieval of customer communications. It provides the tools and processes that enable two-way communication with customers. By contrast, customer relationship management (CRM) focuses on managing and analyzing those interactions to form stronger, long-term relationships with customers to sustain and grow your business. CCM and CRM have long been considered different concepts, though they can be, and should be, closely related.
From a general perspective of customer communications, the typical way an enterprise is organized can be working against the ability to develop positive and long-lasting customer relationships. Frequently in firms like financial institutions, healthcare and insurance companies, and even within larger retailers, day-to-day operations are conducted by separate internal departments. While this does make for operating efficiency, it also tends to create isolated data silos.
For example, the marketing and customer service departments likely have their own separate repositories of CCM messaging, as well as their own separate CRM methods of contacting and responding to customers, such as Salesforce or similar applications. Different teams manage these different corporate functions and may be employing entirely different communications tools. However, if a customer service representative speaking on the phone with a client recognizes an opportunity to promote another product, that rep may not be able to quickly access and send out relevant information if it is available only to marketing staff and can be transmitted only through marketing’s output channels.
Additionally, while CRM tools give your business the means to collect and analyze customer data to better understand customer preferences and behavior, the emphasis is on driving a positive customer experience and pushing communications through various customer-designated channels. Though the mechanics of the process can be extremely effective, an intense focus on CRM may distract from another vital component in the process that is often overlooked—the quality of the content that will go into those communications.
Unless you can access the most appropriate content to fit the communications needs of every interaction, the CRM process can struggle to deliver optimal benefits with messages that may be perceived as a form letter or canned email response. Similarly, you may have a compelling communication that you can deliver via a mobile device with existing CCM capabilities, but again, if it doesn’t include the right messaging, it will simply be an attractive communication that fails to move the customer to act.
Clear, personalized communications make an impact that might even exceed your organization’s expectations, leading to increased revenue and trust as well. In one study, business analyst firm Forrester conducted research in nine industries with results that indicate how plain language content enhances the customer experience. It found that auto and home insurers could see nearly $1 billion in incremental revenue by openly stating policy costs and by providing easy-to-follow instructions on how to file a claim. Likewise, financial institutions stand to gain by making the so-called mandatory “fine print” understandable, rather than incomprehensible legal jargon.
Ideally, your organization’s CCM technology would support the integration of enterprise-wide CCM capabilities with popular CRM applications like Salesforce and others, making it possible for customer-facing staff to create personalized and relevant messages that can be delivered quickly to clients. For example, imagine sending customized, company-branded and approved communications directly from a Salesforce contact record. This eliminates the need to search for appropriate templates, as well as avoiding delay as you circulate a message for approvals. The CCM system also can direct messaging through multiple and/or customer-preferred channels, including email and print.
In another Salesforce scenario, what if you could extend and enrich the use of Salesforce’s Journey Builder feature by integrating that function with CCM capabilities? Plugging the power of existing, approved CCM print and email communications directly into your Journey Builder steps adds another dimension to your print and email communications by adding sophisticated variability—and again, without requiring multiple templates.
With such an integrated approach, sales and customer service reps can access and incorporate all relevant customer data and demographics into messages, eliminating the need to negotiate with other internal departments in order to access their siloed content and CCM systems for channel-specific communications. An integrated, enterprise-wide CCM approach can support plain language rewrites of mandatory and/or frequently used content, as well as streamline rules and approval processes to reduce delivery time of the relevant content.
Augmenting CRM systems with a holistic CCM approach combines the best features of both systems and can ensure that your customer data not only provides valuable insights but also puts those insights to effective and profitable use.