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Today’s organizations continue to face challenges in managing customer communications. From maintaining compliance and regulatory changes to making communications more personalized, relevant and actionable, customer communications and their corresponding workflows have become very complex rather quickly. Combined with growing channel delivery expectations in the digital world, these requirements have caused many companies to fall behind as they attempt to achieve their strategic communication goals and engage with customers.
These rapid changes in customer communication requirements have driven manufacturers and software providers to build additional capabilities into their solutions. Unfortunately, these ever-increasing capabilities can often create a technology proficiency gap that leaves companies struggling to make effective use of and generate a return from their investment. Additionally, document composition tools only represent a component of customer communications lifecycle management, and as a result, internal information technology (IT) departments are faced with the burden of integrating numerous tools into an already disjointed customer communications management (CCM) infrastructure.
Many print service providers and service bureaus have also expanded their service offerings to provide capabilities above and beyond print services to take some of this strain off of enterprise IT groups; however, much of these services have been limited to composition and document redesigns. There still remains a gap in helping enterprises connect and centralize various lines of business to align communications strategies and ensure consistency across communications.
This is where a new segment of service providers have found a niche to address enterprise CCM with hosted managed services—CCM HMS. These companies, Cedar Document Technologies, DataOceans and NEPS, do not offer print production services as one might think. Instead, they partner with enterprise organizations and their communications stakeholders to create a strategy for managing communications. Whether specifying a specific composition tool or leaving it to the CCM HMS provider, enterprises can relinquish the responsibilities of day-to-day document change requests, legacy document conversions and document redesign initiatives that bog down enterprise IT groups, as well as the work with designated print service providers, whether internal or external, producing manufacturing-ready files to prevent production issues and post-composition needs. Enterprises can also leverage these firms’ expertise in multi-channel communication strategies and customer channel preference management to develop a plan that meets the needs of both the various lines of businesses and their customers.
There still remains a gap in helping enterprises connect and centralize various lines of business to align communications strategies and ensure consistency across communications.
By leveraging the expertise and experience that CCM HMS providers have with the various composition and post-composition tools that they work with, enterprises can ensure their communications are leveraging the most features and functions available in the latest CCM technology platforms, including container-based design, content-level change tracking, reduction in the number of templates through the use of variables, addition of dynamic components and intelligent designs prepared for delivery through a number of current and future channels. Some of these areas may not be top of mind for many enterprises but could make a difference for preparing documents and communications for future initiatives.
Another benefit of hosted managed services is the transparency that comes from the dashboard and tracking tools they provide within their platforms. The HMS CCM provides integration with both enterprise and print service providers solutions to provide real-time tracking of communications, from composition through print production and mailing. These interfaces also provide enterprises with the ability to enable business users to be empowered to make some communications changes on their own within a controlled environment.
Because the relationship with these HMS providers is more of a partnership, the services available are not offered as a one-size-fits-most and can be customized in a variety of ways to meet specific enterprise needs and address concerns. Whether hosting the solution completely or installing behind an enterprise firewall, to taking complete responsibility of composition and delivery off IT or partnering with the enterprise IT group on specific communication initiatives, to even helping to connect the marketing and transactional communications functions for a robust, multi-channel communications strategy, the opportunities are endless and customized to each enterprise’s unique needs.
CCM HMS is certainly not the only solution to resolve the gap found between CCM software capabilities and enterprise implementations; however, the CCM HMS providers listed in this article have shown it to be an ideal solution for many organizations looking to lighten the load on IT resources and focus initiatives on the overall customer engagement strategy rather than the day-to-day logistics of creating and distributing communications. When engaging with a CCM HMS, an enterprise is not only partnering with a service provider for a solution to manage customer communications, they’re also partnering with experts who know these software tools inside and out and understand the challenges that enterprise organizations face today. Their expertise and solutions enable the ability to design a solution that meets the enterprise’s and its stakeholders’ specific needs and, ultimately, allow the enterprise to focus on its primary objective— customer engagement.
Stephanie Pieruccini is the vice president of research and enterprise & technology consulting services at Madison Advisors. For more information, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.