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Organizations in every industry are recognizing that building strategies to manage the customer experience (CX) has become critical to their business success. Tracking and honoring customer preferences, especially with respect to how companies communicate with their customers, is a critical element to achieving that positive CX goal. There is no question that a strategic approach is required to successfully meet these evolving customer preferences.

In our view, developing a strategy to accomplish an effective preference management initiative involves careful consideration of the following five key questions:

1. How Can We Comprehensively Capture Communication Preferences of Our Customers?

Answering this question will require mapping out where customers are sharing their preferences within your communications infrastructure. You will then need to find a method to receive, record, and maintain digital and physical preferences for individual customers and for every document type. Moreover, you need to change those preferences in real time when the customer wants to do so.

2. Can We Integrate Preference Management into Our Existing and Future Document Creation Software Applications?

The challenge here is finding a way to integrate preference management into the communications infrastructure without creating even more complexity. You might find that in some cases, capabilities have been added to specifically enable multi-channel communications, but these capabilities are restricted and limit access to capturing preferences. Further, channel options may not exist where those preferences are currently stored.

3. Have We Incorporated Self-Service Selection of Preferences?

Traditionally, customer delivery preferences were captured in the call center, and the goal was to ensure that customer service reps had the tools needed to reflect those preferences throughout the customer journey. Today, more and more customers are moving away from contacting the call center, favoring self-service instead. They want the ability to get the information they need on their own and in real time, whenever they want and with whatever device they choose.

4. Is Every Channel Covered, and Can We Suppress Print When the Customer Chooses Paperless?

In order to honor preferences, your organization needs the ability to produce communications in electronic, print, mobile (SMS and apps), web, and in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, e-text, and audio formats. You also need the ability to integrate paperless delivery prior to the print process.

5. Are We Addressing Privacy Concerns with E-Delivery?

Consideration needs to be given to whether any confidential or sensitive personal data will be sent electronically, and if so, how the confidentiality of that data will be maintained. Security of personal information and compliance with potentially applicable federal, state, and other regulations must be addressed. Portals may be required to transmit sensitive electronic data securely.

As you can see, meeting the demands of growing customer expectations, changing communication preferences, and capturing this data in real time, in whatever channel, can be a complex process. It will require a strategic approach that leverages critical data and technologies to understand and act on customer preferences, no matter where this information is captured. However, rising to the challenge with the right preference management strategy puts you in the best position to deliver the CX customers expect—and realize the benefits of doing so.

Ernie Crawford is the President/CEO and founder of Crawford Technologies. Ernie has more than 30 years of senior marketing and management experience in the high-volume electronic printing market.