Wayne Toms, GhostDraft CEO
Take a moment to consider the last online interaction you had with a business – perhaps it was a bank account application, a new service plan for your vehicle, or maybe an overseas holiday with complicated travel insurance. We live in an age where customers demand instant, comprehensive and personalised communication online, and businesses know they must offer this to remain competitive.
This is a direct result of an explosion in online commercial activity, and a consumer base that is increasingly being made up of millennials and Gen Z, who are far more demanding than their parents. They want simple, seamless interactions. While they have the power to simply swipe left and go to a competitor, they also show loyalty to brands that resonate with them. Beyond the more savvy consumer, businesses also face an increased burden of compliance and consumer advocacy, driven largely by the same younger generations.
In the face of this reality, the biggest recurring problem with generating customer-facing documents has been: how do you deliver specific, relevant, compelling communication to customers without the need to write each communication from scratch? Mass customisation has worked in manufacturing – and so we must ask the question: Is it possible in the digital world? It absolutely is, and customer communication management (CCM) is how you do it.
But before we get there, let’s look a little more deeply at the problem. As the complexity and sophistication of online transactions increase, the amount of information that needs to be conveyed from company to the customer is staggering. Think about it – ordering a pizza online is fairly simple, whereas a home loan agreement is complex and layered. However, this doesn’t detract from the customer needing to understand exactly what’s been agreed to, as well as their rights and obligations – simply and logically.
It is more critical than ever before to be able to deliver the right communication, that’s accurate, relevant, logical, well-designed and easy to understand, quickly. Manufacturers can produce multiple customised end products, all powered by a single, simplified back end, and it changed their businesses.
That’s exactly what CCM does for communication. CCM technology enables the production and delivery of communication targeted to an audience of one – but without the need to do all the work manually. It automates production and delivery of complex, customised written communication without imposing a huge labour burden onto a business.
So, if CCM is the glue between the digital customer and the digital business serving that customer, how does a business go about choosing a solution?
Simply being able to get the communication out is not enough. Obviously, it needs to be well-designed so that the customer can easily tell what they have bought, how it works and what their rights and obligations are. However, for companies doing the communicating, well-designed communication can help them entrench their relationship with the customer. In this rapid-fire digital world, such communication is nothing short of a superpower, because a customer that is happy with your service, and sticks around and buys more, provides the most cost-effective way to grow revenue.
The other side of the coin is that well-designed communication protects the company as compliance standards and obligations intensify, where there is less room for error. In the midst of this increasingly regulated space, companies need to ensure that consumer rights are protected comprehensively and fairly.
Often, this is where alarm bells start ringing about the complexity of IT skills needed to produce such communication, but that’s exactly where a modern CCM solution must sit: it must be simple to use, with natural language processing, so that the actual business users who need to communicate with customers are the ones driving the process.
It’s also apparent that a good CCM engine – such as GhostDraft, which does not have to be baked into a legacy system and instead can work alongside existing systems – can fundamentally change the outward facing communications of businesses without a need to make large-scale system or process changes to achieve this. It should also be agile enough to migrate to any new systems as and when a company embarks on integrations and important milestones on its digital transformation journey. In 2023 and beyond, this means it has to be cloud-based with flexible APIs.
A good CCM solution needs to be industry strength with generalised capabilities and it must offer a range of solutions to customer-facing industries from banks, to insurers, to investment houses and financial advisors, to medical schemes, to automotive or real estate businesses, and even utilities. Any industry that relies on communicating to large numbers of customers, with the need for the communication to be customised to individual users, needs to be thinking about CCM.
In other words, companies would do well to always seek out a robust platform that has been developed by experts who understand their industry, market and customer needs. Perhaps most importantly, businesses should identify CCM solutions that communicate seamlessly within any environment or format, but with as light a footprint as possible. After all, delivering good, mass, but customised, communication is the end goal, not adding more complexity to an already complex environment.