Customer communications are not easy. Once you have the content in order, the execution and processes start floundering. It is surprising how often the statement made by the late Osmo A. Wiio, Professor of Communication, in his first law of communication – “Communication usually fails, except by accident” – is applicable to organizational customer communications.
How could that accident be turned into operations that enable successful customer communications? Read more about our example in the topical tips.
Last week, we met representatives of many different organizations at Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki. Many of them seemed to be facing the same challenge. Even if communications strategies and content is finally in order and in line with the organization’s goals, the customer communications processes do not necessarily support business operations. Often the customer experience remains fragmented and efficiency suffers from the constant hassle. Many organizations also suffer from the abundance of different tools and players. While positive as such, these can cover only a part of the process and the customer experience does not become comprehensive. Nearly all organizations are currently working to digitalize their processes. However, regrettably often this is guided by a simplified upper-level goal, the elimination of paper communications, for instance. In many cases, the organization’s customer is not immediately ready for this. Changing the customer’s behavior requires a wider perspective and perhaps the smart use of multiple channels. This, if anything, merits the use of smart and predictive analytics. Already in the near future, we will certainly see an increasing amount of artificial intelligence applications that improve the probability of successful and timely communications.
Tips for successful customer communications
Create a communications strategy that supports business goals and strategy and determine what the key points in the content are.
Customer relationship management models
Consider what kinds of management models you need for different target groups. How do you handle new incoming customers, how do you activate current customer groups, what kind of material (invoices, agreements, etc.) do you communicate to them at different phases of the customer relationship, what kind of channels do you need, etc.?
Simulate customer journeys. What kind of natural contact points are there? What kind of opportunities do they open up for you? How can you anticipate your customers’ behavior?
Check that your content is up to date. Is your content production process efficient and timely?
Assess critically whether it is worthwhile to build customer communications capabilities in your current operative systems. You will probably need to be prepared for obtaining data required for customer communications needs from your current systems even if it might be worthwhile to acquire customer communications as a service from external parties.
Automate and customize
Automate and customize communications. Eliminate manual routines. Select the best and most efficient channels based on customer journeys and customer relationship management models. Test, measure, create benchmarks, automate processes one at a time. Combine this with automated marketing communications solutions, if necessary. Develop operations with the aid of data and analytics.
Automated customer communications make internal processes more efficient and reduce errors
At their best, automated customer communications solutions can yield numerous benefits for both the customer and the service provider. From the customer’s point of view, the key benefit is that the automation of several similar manual tasks improves the efficiency of the internal process. Automated file management not only makes the process more efficient but also significantly reduces the number of errors in the process.
In addition to the benefits listed above, joining the service provider’s existing “production pipeline” may make it possible to reach the so-called “major customer cost level” even with smaller annual volumes. Having a ready automated production process also provides the service provider with an opportunity to streamline its own production, making it as efficient and problem-free as possible. This offers a chance to produce the service for the customer more reliably, more efficiently and at a lower unit price.
An example of an automated customer communications execution by Edita Prima Ltd is the message printing and enveloping solution for the Suomi.fi Viestit service. Suomi.fi is an electronic communications service produced by the Population Register Centre, through which authorities and government agencies, among others, can send messages to citizens. If the citizen in question has not registered as an electronic service customer at the Suomi.fi website, the message will be sent as a letter with Edita Prima’s automated communications solution.
Edita Prima is capable of receiving messages with different content and structure from dozens of government agencies, if necessary. At Edita, the messages received are combined into a single large production batch that is then printed, inserted into envelopes and sent to the recipients. Each printing batch is processed in file pre-processing according to the rules agreed on with the customer. Pre-processing also includes several quality assurance actions. For instance, it is ensured that the message sent contains the right structure and that the same message has not already been received by Edita.
Automated batch processing also enables real-time reporting. Every day, our customers can view, for instance, how many letters they have sent through the service, what is the sending volume in a selected period of time and how much the printing, enveloping and delivery of the letters has cost them. The Suomi.fi Viestit service is a new, significant customer in our already extensive service palette for automated customer communications. We are continuously developing the service. For instance, the addition of a competitive letter delivery service into our service selection has evoked a lot of interest among our customers.
Learn the terminology
Customer Communication Management (CCM) =
Refers to an organization’s strategy and operating model for planning, managing and conducting (customized) multi-channel communications for the customer during different phases of the customer journey.