Managing customer communications excellence

Why cloud-based hosted management is the way forward

In today’s digital-first environment, CIOs are facing challenges from all sides. Under pressure to help their organisations deliver market-leading customer experience (CX), their businesses are nevertheless struggling to bring together disparate data sources, having to work with out-dated tech stacks and operating in the face of reduced staff and budgets.

Despite research from Precisely and Corinium Intelligence finding that 60% of executives cite the need to invest in data integration, integrity or enrichment technologies as a priority in 2021, businesses are not moving the needle on CX as much as they think. Research from analyst firm Aspire has shown that while 80% of companies believe they offer superior CX, only 8% of customers would agree. Considering that the same research found one in eight (15%) consumers would switch providers because of poor CX, businesses need to act more decisively than they do now.

That’s not to say executives are entirely unaware of the challenges in front of them - and they certainly have an appetite for change. One executive quoted in a recent McKinsey report stated: “I’m more concerned about not being bold enough than being too cautious.”

However, the Precisely research also reveals that nearly half of executives find building company-wide support for CX investments very challenging, even when leadership know it is a priority. Boston Consulting Group found that 70% of digital transformation projects fall short of their goals, even when leadership is aligned.

Where in-house customer communication management falls short

So, if the desire is there, and the need is clear and the support unequivocal – where is it all going wrong?

“Customer communications is at the heart of delivering exceptional customer and digital experiences, but many organisations have been attempting to build and manage their own solutions which has placed a great burden on capabilities and resources,” says Greg Van den Heuvel, executive vice-president and general manager at Precisely.

“Nearly three-quarters of organisations that start a legacy system modernisation project don’t finish it because they lack the ability to plan comprehensively or deal with the complexity of the project on their own. Whether it’s down to staff not getting on board with new systems, not upskilling enough people internally to manage the technology or a lack of understanding of exactly what tech will be most instrumental in moving the business forward, it’s clear companies need help in realising their bold ambitions.”

A single platform like Precisely’s EngageOne RapidCX ensures compliance and governance, as well as the implementation and expertise to operate on the client’s behalf

Certain innovations are coming together to help CIOs meet their businesses’ CX demands, in particular the ability to build on tech stacks via APIs and a much greater use of the cloud. Infoworld calls it a “career killer to not leverage cloud computing”, citing research that most CIOs have at least 20% of their applications and data moved to the cloud, with 10% to 15% scheduled to move in the next year or so, as of December 2021.

One of the key advantages of plugging into cloud-based solutions, compared to on-premise alternatives, is the ability to partner more closely with the vendor and enjoy the benefits of a hosted managed services offering. This sector is growing as a whole, and in customer communications management (CCM), it’s increasingly the norm.

“Our recent research found that 65% of the executives we spoke to are investing in new CCM technologies to improve CX. Of those, 45% are reviewing their approach to outsourcing and this is even higher in the highly regulated and communications-critical financial services sector, with 54% saying they’re reviewing their outsourcing arrangements following Covid-19,” Van den Heuvel explains.

Why leading companies are moving to hosted, managed solutions

This move to the cloud with subscription-based, hosted managed services is not altogether surprising. While bringing CCM in-house may give the illusion of control, the issues mentioned above mean that it often risks becoming yet another unfinished, unsatisfying – and expensive – white elephant. In fact, businesses consider excessive overheads to be the greatest inhibitor to better communications and it can take nearly a year for stakeholders working with an in-house model to make even simple changes. It typically takes up to two years to fight through a major version upgrade.

Some of the companies that have attempted it report a lack of a coherent, centralised approach to CCM. A third of executives surveyed by Aspire state that a lack of coordination between internal teams becomes the biggest obstacle to communications transformation. A further quarter cited unclear ownership of communications and inaccurate or conflicting customer data as their biggest hurdles.

“In fact, 43% of businesses expect to shift to subscription CCM by 2022,” says Van den Heuvel. “A single platform like Precisely’s EngageOne RapidCX ensures compliance and governance, as well as the implementation and expertise to operate on the client’s behalf, saving them time and money.”

Precisely can already point to a number of successful roll-outs, particularly in the tightly regulated and complex financial services industries. One financial, retirement, investment and insurance company was operating among a tangle of communications siloes and solutions. It had to deal with multiple print vendors increasing fulfilment costs, a lack of consistency, no single source of information for call centre agents and a wide range of composition tools and vendors, all of which was ultimately undermining its digital presence.

By moving its output to a single print vendor, creating enterprise-wide communication design standards and allowing non-IT resources to make changes quickly, the company transformed the internal experience of its 800 call centre operatives and 75 back-office users in as few as 11 months. By using EngageOne RapidCX’s hosted managed CCM, the company now manages 10,000 templates across five call centres, five print sites and 13 million customers, all while making an annual saving of $11.6m.

“Naturally, companies are concerned about security and compliance as well as being able to use new technologies effectively,” Van den Heuvel concludes. “But with a hosted managed CCM solution like EngageOne RapidCX, we extensively workshop with staff and the CIO/CTO teams to make sure that everything isn’t just comprehensively migrated to the new system, but that the organisation can make the most of its broad and effective range of CCM solutions.”

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