The idea of improving inter-departmental coordination through CCM may seem like a contradiction or, at the very least, a decidedly unintuitive correlation.
If we start with Gartner’s simple definition of Customer Communications Management, we can derive that CCM is “a strategy to improve the creation, delivery, archiving, and retrieval of outbound communications, including those for marketing, new product introductions, renewal notifications, claims correspondence and documentation, and invoice and payment notifications. These interactions can take place via documents, email, fax, or on web pages.”
So, it’s clear that we’re talking about an approach that’s primarily customer-facing, to communication from inside the company to outside it, where it’s the consumer, with their needs, their requirements, their specific characteristics, who is the center of everything, the most important player in the game.
But then, how can you think that a tool that serves to improve communication can be useful, in the same way, to improve coordination and collaboration between different teams and departments of the same company that clearly deal with different tasks and with different objectives and operating methods?
It’s a legitimate question. To realize this, however, it’s necessary to make a premise and start with the concept of customer journey.
The customer journey refers to “the path that the customer takes during the relationship with a company. A journey that includes both online and offline stages.”
In other words, it is the imaginary line that can be drawn to describe the relationship between the consumer who comes into contact with the company, from the moment of awareness of a specific need, to the actual purchase, and eventually to customer loyalty.
From this definition, it’s clear that every customer journey consists of stages.
According to a traditional approach, there are five stages that represent a rather linear path, through which the individual-company relationship evolves and transforms, becoming increasingly close and sometimes disregarding the simple sale of a product or service.
Each of these phases (awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, and loyalty) always corresponds to a specific action that the consumer is expected to take.
Similarly, according to this approach, for each phase there is also a specific action that the company must have planned in order to achieve a certain result or to prepare a certain reaction.
But all of this necessarily means that different teams come into play at each stage of the journey to carry out specific tasks, intersecting with the work of other areas: marketing, perhaps public relations, as well as sales, and almost certainly the IT department.
Everyone participates by making their own contribution in order to create a path that is as effective, uninterrupted, and easy to use as possible for the consumer.
In a word, to create a true customer experience.
A new kind of experience
In reality, this vision has been (in part) surpassed and the idea of a customer journey that is necessarily linear, from point A to point B, passing through intermediate steps, no longer finds much confirmation in reality, even in light of multichannel and omnichannel approaches.
Strategies of this type, in fact, are not compatible with the variety of channels and their integration; in the multichannel system, for example, companies activate different touch points, both online and offline, to get in touch with customers and allow them to search, learn about, and purchase products or services.
Similarly, the omnichannel approach provides for the different channels through which to start the customer experience, but it considers the seamless integration between the different touch points necessary. These touch points cannot remain separate (as it is in a multichannel system), to allow the consumer to start his experience from any point and continue or end it through another channel without overlap, interruption, or repetition.
It is clear that when there are many and even integrated channels, the experience offered is unlikely to resemble a straight line, but rather will be branched.
However, this does not alter the fact that this new type of customer journey created by companies (whether or not the channels are integrated) requires coordination, and this involves different teams with different skills.
On the contrary, the fact that the complexity of the consumer experience has increased makes it even more necessary to have perfect coordination between specific areas, each of which must provide its contribution in a “synchronized” manner with the other parts of the company.
What areas come into play in creating personalized communication?
To understand what role CCM platforms play in improving departmental coordination, you must first understand which departments are called upon to step in and collaborate on implementing an effective communication strategy and creating a customer experience that lives up to consumer expectations.
Typically, there are essentially three teams:
- The first is the marketing and communications department, which must envision a communications approach around which to build activities throughout the year. Particular attention will be paid to customer profiling in order to understand which communications are the most relevant and which channels to monitor according to the message identified;
- The second department involved is sales, which by nature is more concerned with performance. In this sense, a fundamental role will be played by the technical tools that make it possible to get in touch with the customers, managing the communications with them. At the same time, the data related to campaigns and the reactions of the users and their analysis will also be important. In fact, this same data will be the basis for understanding if the strategy has been effective and how (or if) they need to be improved;
- Finally, the third department that needs to be involved is IT, which should intervene for the technology, management, maintenance, and control of the software used to create content and distribute it.
These three worlds must therefore be brought together in some way, and the relationships between them must be made as unfiltered or barrier-free as possible for the benefit of both the company’s internal efficiency and the end result that is sent to the customer.
Separation issues: the key is (also) in Customer Communication Management
Unfortunately, what should be is not always the case in reality: this is demonstrated by the fact that these operational areas often have difficulties in communication and, consequently, difficulties in coordinating their activities, often having the operational focus on their own area of competence without having a general overview, which can have negative consequences.
Without true coordination, in fact, each department ends up creating a separate relationship with customers, who inevitably perceive this separation that makes the overall experience less harmonious because it doesn’t take advantage of the synergy of different skills.
Similarly, the customer experience risks being less effective because each team pursues different goals and consequently pays attention to different things, preferring to implement some solutions over others, which may not perform adequately for everyone.
In addition, the lack of integration between the various company sectors causes significant disruption, since some of the data and information that can be collected along the various stages of the customer journey risk being lost or end up being underutilized. This lack of data sharing between different areas of the organization represents a lack of synergy.
To avoid this, a first step would be to change the corporate mentality, which can no longer be vertical, but must be horizontal and interconnected, just like the new experience offered to customers.
Secondly, it is also necessary to implement specific solutions that can eliminate these barriers by centralizing communication and integrating all the channels activated thanks to an automation system that reduces the steps and makes collaboration between different teams more efficient.
One such solution is a Customer Communications Management platform, which overcomes a compartmentalized structure and reduces friction between sales, marketing, and IT teams.
How to improve coordination between departments with CCM
From this perspective, the CCM is a tremendous resource as it provides a common platform to which various departments can utilize to perform their tasks.
In fact, using the same platform makes it possible to build and upload templates that salespeople can use immediately when interacting with clients. But that’s not all.
Thanks to automated systems, the sending and receiving of documents, both internal and external, can be managed directly by the platform, which ensures the right timing and, above all, reduces the time needed for archiving.
From a data management perspective, Customer Communications Management (CCM) platforms are also an excellent resource as they not only allow the company to process large amounts of data more quickly, but also make it easily accessible to various departments who can cross-reference the results and extract relevant trends which can be used to shape or modify the company’s strategy or approach.
Many CCM platforms are also able to integrate machine learning technology, which means that not only are they able to collect and efficiently manage large amounts of data on their own, they are also able to learn from it and modify their own processes.
This is also an important opportunity that can also be exploited to improve internal efficiency, provided you have the right skills internally.
A new approach requires new skills
Although CCM platforms are designed to fit seamlessly into the business (such as the one developed by Doxee, which integrates with existing back-end systems containing customer data), this approach and the relevant technologies need specific skills.
That’s why another element of improving coordination between departments is to hire or train professionals who know how to leverage the technology behind CCM platforms and implement it correctly. Professionals that can facilitate cooperation between different departments through CCM platforms, as they enable a new work “culture” to spread throughout the company, which can also improve business results in the long run.