Good communication is vital to customer relationships. Today businesses can communicate with customers via phone calls, video calls, messages, emails, social media, etc. It sounds great to have so many channels of communication, but mismanaging these tools can derail all your efforts to provide good customer service.
Imagine a customer's frustration when calls that are forwarded to voicemail don't get returned. To avoid this, you need a Customer Communication Management solution (CCM). What is this and why is it important? – Let's take a closer look.
Definition of Customer Communications Management
Customer Communication Management (CCM) can be defined as a strategy or software solution to manage and standardize outbound communication via phone calls, SMS, email, online fax, etc. It includes how messages are created, delivered, stored and retrieved for all kinds of correspondence.
With good CCM businesses can keep an eye on notifications sent to customers, marketing campaigns, bills and invoices, etc. sent via physical as well as digital mail.
What are the benefits of customer communications management?
Today, it isn't just product features that a company can use to differentiate itself with, but also the customer experience and communication provided. It's all about building and nurturing relationships with prospects and customers.
This is where customer communication management can play a big role. It streamlines all communication and centralizes interactions to maintain more visibility and control. Some of the ways it benefits your business are:
Confirmed delivery of critical messages
When you have hundreds and thousands of customers being called and emailed every day, there's always the risk of missing out on a few. When you forget to email a prospect about the details of a deal you talked to them about, you miss out on a conversion opportunity.
Similarly, you might miss out on sending tracking information for a customer's order and degrade their shopping experience. Using a CCM reduces the risk of such occurrences by automating certain processes. This ensures that all critical communication reaches the customer on time.
Customers today expect personalized communication. A survey found that 72% of consumers engage only with personalized messaging. This is not limited to only knowing the customer's name, you also need to tailor communication according to the customer's prior interactions with the company, order history, value, etc.
A CCM makes this possible by centralizing all communication. It allows you to communicate with customers in a channel of their choosing and empowers you to make relevant recommendations.
A CCM solution reduces dependency on the IT team and helps users create, edit and manage content independently. It also eliminates siloes and thus helps fight against operational inefficiencies while managing costs. The centralized system lets changes made by design, marketing, finance teams, etc. be reflected across the system to eliminate fragmentation and make processes run smoothly.
A CCM solution can also be used to automate processes to increase interactivity. For example, once the content of a text message is finalized, the process of sending it can be automated to follow calls.
Using multiple communication channels increases the risk of repetitive and inconsistent messaging or missing out on follow-up actions. It can be very frustrating for customers to receive an email with updates about store openings in Europe when they have told a sales representative that they are based in the US.
CCM is a common platform that brands can use for communication across channels. Hence, it makes messages easier to track and reduces the risk of having voicemails; text messages and emails slip through the cracks. You can ensure that the message communicated via a phone call is the same as the message communicated via email or text message.
A CCM platform gives your compliance teams an overview of all communication so that they can see what customers see and how the message comes across. They can manage, audit and approve language and content. It also makes it easier to ensure that the message complies with data privacy regulations.
Customer Communications Management (CCM) vs. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CCM and CRM may sound similar, but though they work in tandem with each other, their core functionality is very different.
CRM software is aimed at managing the relationships between the company and existing / potential customers. It allows you to store information about each customer and prospect to enable profiling, audience segmentation and targeted communication. This information is stored centrally and made accessible to all departments in a bid to encourage collaboration and boost productivity.
While a CRM system streamlines the process of getting to know your customer, CCM solutions manage outgoing communication to complete the customer management experience. It uses the data collected and analyzed by CRM platforms to push customized communication through various channels to drive a positive customer experience.
Customer communications management trends
Customer Communication Management plays an important role in enabling a seamless omnichannel conversation between customers and the brand. In a bid to improve customer experiences, companies are investing in such technology. The key trends being seen with reference to this are:
A survey found that 63% of customers expect businesses to know their expectations and make recommendations accordingly. This has been a growing factor in brand differentiation and will continue to be so in the future.
Today's customers want brands to listen to them and value them as individuals. To do so, brands are finding ways of personalizing communication even more than before. For example, instead of generic videos, demonstration videos in emails can be personalized to address customers by name.
Let's say a sales representative calls a customer. By accessing records of earlier interactions, he can form easier connections to the customer's query and give quicker resolutions.
Digital transformation of customer experiences
Irrespective of industry, digitization is the way ahead. This links Customer Experience Management (CEM) and CCM. While it does not mean the loss of all traditional customer communication channels, correspondence will be digitized to a greater extent.
For example, financial institutions will deliver bank statements, etc. through mobile apps. Similarly, retailers will share digital invoices. With this in mind, consistency becomes more important than ever for brand communication.
2-way communication management
When brands looked at communication, the focus was limited to outgoing correspondence. However, this will evolve to include incoming messages as well. Customers want to be heard, and they want their feedback and opinions incorporated into their future experiences.
For example, let's say a customer tells the sales representative that they live in the Dallas area. They expect this knowledge to be known during future interactions and do not want to have to repeat themselves.
Hence, CCM solutions will need to analyze not only outgoing communication but also all incoming communication. This becomes easier when you are using communication platforms that offer specialized features for call monitoring, recording, etc.
Emphasis on customer journey mapping
As the importance of personalized customer interactions grows, more efforts will be made toward mapping the customer journey from prospect to purchaser. Communication at every stage will be studied and analyzed to understand the impact of the message and the emotions associated with it.
After all, a digital experience must be not just convenient but also pleasant. This illustrates the importance that should be given to CCM tools. It would never be possible to study all customer-company correspondence if the information was not centralized.
Interactive solutions driven by AI analytics
With everything else, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will influence customer communication. While data has always been available, they are being used to analyze and assess this data to help companies learn more about their customers. By 2025, AI is predicted to power 95% of all customer interactions.
AI and ML models used to monitor customer messaging and their responses will help predict customer needs and generate useful insights. In addition, it can automate customer communication with solutions in the form of chatbots. That said, though this is more efficient, it must be noted that customers still want human interactions.
Integration of communication through NLP-based chatbots
In continuation of the above point, customer communication management will expand to include Natural Language Processing (NLP)-based chatbots. NLP technology allows chatbots to read and interpret messages and reply according to preset responses.
They provide quick resolutions for customers and free up agent time to handle more complex queries. The use of chatbots increased by 92% between 2019 and 2020 and has been increasing steadily ever since. Thus, CCM platforms must acknowledge this as an important channel of communication and treat data passing through it in the same way as they treat phone calls, emails, etc.
Partnership with third-party messaging platforms
As part of digitizing customer experiences, brands develop independent mobile applications for communication, commerce, etc. However, not everyone may download these applications given the limited memory space on mobile devices.
Hence, companies must explore the option of using popular third-party messaging platforms for customer communication. For instance, airlines may have their own websites and apps but still send tickets and updates to flight plans through WhatsApp messages. Chatbots can play a role in this communication channel too to make it more interactive.
Greater focus on data privacy
Digitizing customer interactions is convenient, but it also increases the risk of being susceptible to cyberattacks. Even a minor breach in customer data can cost the business a fortune in fines and cause irreparable damage to its brand image. The associated loss of customers and revenue only adds to this issue.
While customers know they need to share data for companies to personalize services, they are wary about the security of their shared information. For this, compliance with GDPR and other such regulations is vital. With CCM, compliance officers can audit all outgoing messages to ensure that they meet regulatory requirements irrespective of the channel used.
Summing it up
With customer experience being the driving force behind success stories, customer communication management is a strategic initiative that every brand must invest in. This extends to all touchpoints and channels that may be used to communicate with existing and prospective customers.
A simple solution is to switch from traditional phone lines to VoIP phone systems like those provided by Ringover. It allows you to consolidate voice and video calls to all customers as well as communication through text message and fax. Calls can be monitored live or recorded for later evaluation. It's not just more efficient, it's also more budget-friendly.
Done right, CCM can empower companies to personalize and add value to every customer interaction. Doing so builds trust in the brand name and helps win their loyalty. It's the ultimate aim for every business – a loyal customer base that they can count on.
Customer communications management FAQs
What does a customer communications manager do?
A customer communications manager is responsible for creating content for communication across channels and making sure it is relevant to the customer and well-timed. They must also make sure that the message and the channel chosen keeps the customer engaged and enhances their overall experience.
Why is customer communication management important?
Customer communication management helps businesses keep track of all outgoing communication and make sure the right message is sent to the right customer at the right time. Messaging can be tailored to customer profiles and prior interactions to be seamless across channels. In turn, this helps with cost optimization, meeting customer expectations and improving brand equity.
What is a CCM tool?
A CCM tool refers to software used for Customer Communication Management. It may be an on-premise software or a cloud-based solution. This software centralizes all outgoing communication across phone and video calls, text messages, emails, printed documents, etc. to ensure consistent messaging. CCM tools can be integrated with other systems such as a CRM platform to maximize efficiency.
What do you mean by customer communication?
Customer communication includes all messaging sent to existing and potential customers at various stages of their customer journey. This includes communication about promotional messaging, brand announcements, billing and invoicing, etc. sent through traditional or digital channels.