Customer Communication Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Gina Armada and Ira Brooker    July 17th, 2023

CCM Challenges and solutions

For businesses operating on a large scale, customer communication involves a lot more than simply sending out emails to a customer list. High volume communication requires a multi-pronged customer communication management (CCM) strategy, along with some robust tools to support it. Even with the right system of CCM solutions in place, there are still some key challenges that every business needs to be prepared to face. Most of those challenges fall into two distinct categories: challenges specific to document creation and distribution, and challenges related to the broader scope of your business.

MHC CEO and Aragon Research Women in Technology Award-winner Gina Armada is passionate about helping clients manage custoemr communications more efficiently, so we’ve compiled some frequent CCM challenges based on MHC’s extensive experience in the CCM sphere.

I. Creation and Distribution Challenges

The most obvious and pressing challenges of developing a strong CCM strategy come in the process of creating communications documents and templates and distributing those materials to customers efficiently and accurately. An effective approach to creation and distribution can go a long way toward avoiding other issues further down the line.

CHALLENGE NO. 1

Template Overpopulation

Attempting to provide each customer with personalized correspondence that is sent on their preferred schedule and caters to their channel preferences can quickly snowball into an unmanageable number of templates. A busy organization could easily end up having to manage hundreds of thousands of templates for each channel – one template for mobile, one for print, and so on. Keeping track of this many unique templates is virtually impossible to do without a solid system in place.

At the same time, sending out generic, one-template-fits-all communications to every customer can leave the impression that your business doesn’t care enough or doesn’t have the capacity to provide personalized messaging. That perception can do real damage to important customer relationships, especially if your competitors do offer more personalized correspondence.

SOLUTION

Efficient Template Management 

The number of templates your business uses can be significantly reduced by using enterprise customer communication management software. CCM software allows you to create templates that can be leveraged on multiple channels. Along with omnichannel communications, this provides more touchpoints than traditional templates, which is ideal for a business trying to minimize cost and improve customer engagement simultaneously. Documents can be made channel-agnostic with reusable components, conditional content, and conditional fonts, logos, and other branding elements.

Research shows that Gen Z and Millennials, which we define as consumers age 18 to 40, were in every case the most likely to have taken steps toward digitalization… but those same consumers were the least likely to positively rate those digital experiences, and the least likely to say they plan to continue to interact with the providers in this way. They tell us that digital communications don’t yet really embrace the true interaction that young consumers expect, or that digital platforms make possible.

Kaspar Roos, CEO & Founder of Aspire

CHALLENGE NO. 2

Data Chaos

Data drives the entire customer communications management process from start to finish. But many organizations lack a definitive plan for storing and managing that data. Important information might be spread across the cloud, databases, XML, websites, or even on paper documents. The chaos of rounding up all that data so it can be useful is a daunting prospect. In many cases, the only solution is writing custom code or having to contract out to a third party, slowing down the entire process.

From a customer standpoint, having to wait for your organization to sort through all of those resources to find important data can be deeply frustrating, particularly if it happens on a regular basis. Delayed communications often have a domino effect, leading to delayed payments and shipments, and other slowdowns that can cost serious time and money.

SOLUTION

Complex Data Integration Component

The data integration component of MHC EngageCX gives you the ability to process a lot of types of data. It can pull information from various data sources (the cloud, databases, xml, websites) and creates a golden data source that feeds reports and documents. In most cases, customers need the ability to not only collect data from various sources, but also communicate it across the enterprise. EngageCX is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing enterprise software. That not only allows for smooth, speedy communications across an organization, it also eliminates the need to write custom code or purchase a third party solution for this task.

Technology is the easy part. There’s lots of great technology out there, there are really great tools. The part that makes a really great partner is your ability to help with implementation, integration, and distribution. They’re experts in insurance, they’re experts in banking, they’re experts in utilities, whatever it might be. They’re not experts in how to get customers to convert to digital channels. They’re not experts in, ‘How do I implement this technology so I deliver the most value to my consumer?’ That’s where you can add value.

Elizabeth Stephen, CCM Strategist and Consultant

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CCM Challenges Infographic

We’ve broken down some of the most common CCM challenges for creators, distributors and business users into a helpful snapshot. Take a look at these frequent CCM issues and the ways MHC software solutions can help you take control. 

CHALLENGE NO. 3

Supporting Multiple Communication Channels

In a technology-driven era, your customers have so many options available to them. Any given customer could be engaging with you from several devices, sometimes hopping from smartphone to laptop and back again. With this evolution in customer need, most customer communication management platforms require that individual templates be created for each delivery method.

That approach not only generates even more work for your back office while opening you up to formatting errors, it also requires your customers to familiarize themselves with multiple templates. Having to navigate a different user experience depending on whether they access your data using a mobile or desktop device creates extra steps and headaches that can quickly test your customers’ patience and may lead them to seek a simpler solution.

SOLUTION

Omnichannel Distribution Assures Continuity of Conversation

EngageCX is designed to deliver a flawless experience to your customers, optimized for any type of electronic device. With a single template, offer your customers impactful and informative content that maintains your brand tone, regardless of whether they’re tapping away on a cell phone or a PC, or navigating between both. Granting access to and information on customer history and preferred channels is a big help to your support staff and customer service efforts. That allows your customers to choose their preferred communications channels – be it traditional print, one or more electronic devices, or a combination of the two.

There is the best opportunity in the marketplace for use of dynamic communications being delivered to the audience across print PDF, web delivery, text message, fax and other delivery mechanisms. Companies not yet developing in this fashion have a tremendous opportunity for rationalization of development effort and consolidation of creative platforms.

Allen Shapiro, Document Media

CHALLENGE NO. 4

Finding the Right Documents and Data

Finding a file in a system with no naming schema can be chaotic and exhausting. Different people organize, categorize, and abbreviate things in all manners of ways. Many employees working together in a single system often results in multiple naming patterns for documents and templates. At the company level, this leads to a cohort of documents and digital assets that is extremely difficult to manage, and that makes employees prone to errors.

When your team has difficulty managing and locating key data quickly and accurately, that has a ripple effect on customer service. A data storage system that makes it difficult to manage and locate the communications your customers need in a timely fashion also makes avoidable errors much more likely. Delayed communications combined with human error does not make an appealing package for your customer base.

SOLUTION

Single Template Functionality Inspires System Visibility

Customer communication management software makes all the difference. With integrated metadata tags, filters, search and sort features, finding a specific template to use can be instantaneous. Working with efficient multi-channel templates makes narrowing down the search that much easier. And with EngageCX’s need for a single template regardless of delivery method, you will drastically reduce the number of templates that need to be maintained and improve visibility into your overall process. Reduce confusion and extra headaches by having true control over the entirety of your organization’s documents.

MHC’s modern CCM platform has customer-centricity at its heart, enabling it to empower customers to meet their evolving business goals. While EngageCX is a very rounded suite in itself, MHC has taken it even further by incorporating it within its newly developed MHC NorthStar platform, allowing it to serve as a versatile front-end CX layer to back-end automation processes. The new combination delivers a powerful and agile platform that is poised for exciting growth

Kaspar Roos, CEO & Founder of Aspire

CHALLENGE NO. 5

Supervising Cross-Department Projects

Customer-centric communication entails outbound communications with multiple contributors. That means managing input from multiple departments and content creators whose goals and processes may vary, even within your own organization. From data generation to branding to content writing, these activities must be overseen to ensure accuracy, compliance, and effectiveness.

Without thorough supervision, errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies can be easily overlooked, which makes the company liable for fines and even lawsuits. Even if the situation doesn’t become quite that dire, communications that lack a consistent tone or message are confusing and frustrating for the customers who receive them. That can lead to further delays and costly misunderstandings.

SOLUTION

Improved Supervised Workflow Management

Our customer communication solution provides effective governance through flexible and integrated version control. Managers can oversee different environments to review and approve the processes, follow audit trails, and enforce policy. Take back ownership of the communications workflow by gaining full visibility into the data and more easily identifying any potential issues as they occur. Modify processes easily as patterns and trends reveal themselves, giving you enhanced effectiveness when it comes to your organization’s communications.

A successful customer communications plan is all about meeting your customers where they are in a customer journey and understanding the optimal ways to seize their attention. Companies that prioritized seamless omnichannel communications were able to keep in more consistent contact with their customers while also building the customer’s trust in the organization.

Gina Armada, CEO of MHC

CHALLENGE NO. 6

Reliance on Technical Resources

Providing an environment where technical and non-technical staff can work together successfully can be difficult. Documents are often managed within the IT department in order to ensure the data is readable and accurate, and that the brand is represented appropriately. That also means that participation from the IT team is necessary before any changes to your communications can be made.

Managing changes to documents within the IT department is hard enough, but it can get even more chaotic when non-technical personnel are also making necessary changes to templates. Content creators, project managers, and other business users often have unique perspectives and necessary input to contribute, but implementing those changes can be difficult and time-consuming when they need to be routed through IT every time. That added hassle can lead a team to avoid making changes, leaving customers with incomplete or inaccurate communications.

SOLUTION

A CCM System for the Entire Team

Client communication management software provides workflow integration and replaces tedious manual processes, delegating tasks to specific, access-based work environments, while also providing opportunity for high-level controls to govern the process. Unified CCM software employs consistent jargon throughout the entire platform. The system is intuitive and easy to use by both technical and non-technical staff members, which transforms CCM into a top-down effort. Reduce unnecessary bottlenecks by allowing maintenance access to all levels of your organization.

In order to engender loyalty, boost retention, and maximize lifetime customer value through digitalization, that stuff has been really complicated by the fact that younger consumers and higher income consumers have historically been unsatisfied with the approach that many businesses have taken thus far.

Kaspar Roos, CEO & Founder of Aspire

CHALLENGE NO. 7

Producing Documents Ad-hoc

Generating personalized ad-hoc documents is a major challenge in customer communication management. For some communications, there simply isn’t an existing template that covers everything that needs to be addressed. That often requires producing a new document tailored to those needs, but organizations sometimes struggle to create customer-specific correspondence that also aligns with the company’s brand image and quality standards. If a customer’s communications options are limited to a predetermined list of templates, they may struggle to find an option that truly matches their unique needs.

SOLUTION

Generate Real-Time Communications As Needed

A solid client communications management platform streamlines customer correspondence. Writing staff can retrieve and repurpose templates that have been approved by managers, use forms and validation to edit text ad-hoc, and store documents in a repository with the appropriate metadata. Customer communications software provides quality assurance and personalization in your on-demand documents.

As it becomes easier for customers and vendors to connect, it’s increasingly clear that truly effective communication requires a two-way dialogue — one where listening is just as critical, if not more so, than talking. Unfortunately, standard CCM tools are often not designed for this, instead focusing all their attention on the outbound communications and management of channels.

Jason Burian, Document Media

II. Business Challenges

A major benefit of a reliable CCM strategy is that it can assist in solving a number of different challenges in other areas of your business. From improving compliance to boosting employee engagement to bolstering the bottom line, communications management can play a key role in improving business practices across your organization.

CHALLENGE NO. 1

Maintaining Compliance

A business document is not something that can simply be tossed off using whatever words and format your content team chooses. A good portion of your communications will be subject to the regulatory standards of both your and your customers’ industries, as well as the internal standards and policies of both organizations. This can create issues when dealing with customers who have unique or unexpected compliance requirements. If those needs fall outside of what is included in your existing templates, accommodating those customers can be a significant challenge.

SOLUTION

Dynamic and Personalized Templates

To meet the compliance needs of the widest possible range of customers, your communications need to be dynamic enough to allow easy personalization. That’s why EngageCX offers an extensive library of content and template components based on best practices from dozens of industries that can be customized as needed. Even better, those templates can be managed by any approved business user, eliminating the need to wait for your IT department to implement changes.

How much effort does it take a partner to do something that we want them to do? Is it effort that we want them to be spending? Think about time spent versus time saved. Asking them about effort rather than customer satisfaction is a far better way to be sure you’re hitting the notes in your customer experience. Be a partner. [Enterprise businesses] want partnerships. They don’t necessarily need vendors. Even though you are a vendor, the partnership makes a difference.

Mia Papanicolaou, CCM Strategist and Consultant

CHALLENGE NO. 2

Poor Customer Satisfaction

No matter how high your product quality is, it doesn’t count for much if your customers can’t use it in the ways that work best for them. A lack of useful insights into your customers’ needs and behaviors can be a major stumbling block when it comes to providing the kind of communications and service that they require. It doesn’t matter how much confidence your organization has in your communication management solutions if your customers are having difficulty using it in a way that meets their needs, and understanding those needs requires some transparency and data exploration on your end.

SOLUTION

Omnichannel Distribution

EngageCX is designed to integrate seamlessly with nearly any enterprise system, creating an uninterrupted flow of both internal and external communication. That also provides deep insights into known customer data from acquisition to retention, allowing your team to leverage that information, build trust, and be sure that your solutions are relevant to your valued customers.  We also offer the same document creation and distribution experience no matter the channel. Not only does that allow users to move between their preferred platforms easily with no loss of functionality, it also provides your team with helpful insights into the channels that matter most to your customers.

A successful customer communications plan is all about meeting your customers where they are in a customer journey and understanding the optimal ways to seize their attention. Companies that prioritized seamless omnichannel communications were able to keep in more consistent contact with their customers while also building the customer’s trust in the organization.

Gina Armada, CEO of MHC

CHALLENGE NO. 3

Low Customer Engagement

Creating a product or service that you can stand behind is one thing. Getting your customers to engage with it on a meaningful level can be another thing all together. If your business lacks an understanding of how your customers find your services, how they navigate your systems, how they prefer to interact with your communications, and other key behaviors, it becomes that much more difficult to drive engagement. Even if a customer makes an initial purchase, if they do not feel engaged with your communications, they are less likely to make repeat purchases or establish the kind of loyalty-based relationship that drives long-term sales.

SOLUTION

Customer Journey Orchestration

By mapping your customers’ journey — in other words, creating a beginning-to-end visual representation of all of the ways customers interact with your brand — you gain a deeper understanding of what does and does not drive engagement that keeps them coming back. EngageCX enables you to compile data based on a variety of customer personas across multiple channels, giving you a clear picture of why and how customers begin and end their journeys with your organization. That in turn helps you to craft communications that connect with your customers on a level that keeps them engaged.

In today’s world, customer expectations are: they contact the company, the service rep will know what interactions have already happened and what is the status of the issue. The customer wants to have seamless interactions across website chat, call centers, printed information, social media and video call systems. Companies who invest in knowing the customer journey map are going to win more clients and retain and grow the clients they already have. So cross-channel, integrated communications is the logical way to proceed for the foreseeable future

Allen Shapiro, Document Media

CHALLENGE NO. 4

Missed Revenue Opportunities

Even rich customer data is not especially useful if it can’t be easily translated into a format that works for both your organization and your customers. Too often, opportunities for revenue are literally lost in translation. Data comes to you in a wide range of formats, and translating that information into communications that can be easily interpreted both internally and externally can take a lot of energy and effort. Without a reliable means of converting that data into a useful format, you may be leaving money on the table.

SOLUTION

Enterprise-class Rendering Engine

MHC’s Developer Toolkit enables your team to capture data and documents in nearly any format and transform that information into whatever format makes the most business sense for your specific organization. Convert JSON, XML, and XSL-FO files to PDF, Word, PowerPoint, or other formats that are most palatable and readable for your target audience. By communicating with customers in a format that makes the most sense for their needs, you can give your organization a better chance at capturing a greater share of revenue.

Enterprise efforts to digitally transform their customer communication and improve customer experience are indelibly linked. [Enterprise customers] selected shifting customers to digital channels as the top tactic that they use to improve customer experience. The most effective tactic was adding digital channels.

Kaspar Roos, CEO & Founder of Aspire

CHALLENGE NO. 5

Inefficient Processes and Low Productivity

Manual and outdated processes not only cost your business valuable time and money, they can also make communicating effectively with your customers much more challenging. Clunky and time-consuming document creation processes make it difficult to make sure that communications are getting to your customers on time and in an engaging, useful format. With so many options available to consumers, slow and poorly formatted communications can cause a customer to look elsewhere.

SOLUTION

Document Automation and Visual Design Studio

MHC offers tools to make your document creation and distribution processes quick, consistent, and error-free. Our flexible document automation software allows your team to craft personalized, on-brand communications pulling from our extensive library of content and templates. That lets you cater to your customers’ individual needs without getting slowed down by inefficient processes.

We expect to see a… movement towards individual relationship-rich communications that are on-demand, interactive and/or triggered. These approaches permit an organization to tailor messaging to the individual at the time the customer wants the interaction and via the channel preferred by the customer. This introduces a tremendous increase in the complexity of communications but at the same time offers outstanding opportunities for better and more lasting customer relationships to be built. Organizations that can communicate on the channel desired by a customer, at the time and in the format desired by the customer are going to be the ones where deep relationships are built. 

Allen Shapiro, Document Media

Solve Your CCM Challenges with MHC

Managing customer communication in the modern business era requires a versatile and multifunctional set of tools capable of accommodating a variety of channels without sacrificing speed or accuracy. MHC EngageCX offers flexible, personalized communications that help your organization engage directly with your customers in a meaningful way. With a deep library of content and templates, the ability to integrate complex data across multiple channels, easy mapping of customer journeys, and many other automated communication functions, EngageCX keeps customers engaged, in compliance, and eager to continue working with your organization.

Ready to learn more about MHC’s industry-leading CCM solutions? Read more about the many ways we can help connect you to your customers on a personalized basis, then contact us to schedule a free demonstration guided by our team of specialists. We’ll find the solution that makes the most sense for your organization’s individual needs

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Gina Armada

Gina Armada is the Chief Executive Officer for MHC, offering over 24 years of experience leveraging technology to deliver business solutions and generate value for customers. Gina leads MHC in consistently delivering intelligent workflow and content automation solutions that organizations can rely upon to streamline their operations, optimize productivity, and increase engagement with customers. Gina worked at Accenture until she joined MHC in 2008, serving in multiple roles until she was named CEO in 2019. When Gina isn’t piloting the growth of MHC’s solutions and services, she is active in coaching youth sports and loves spending free time with family and friends.

Ira Brooker

Ira Brooker is a freelance writer and editor based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been writing blogs and copy about software-as-a-service solutions for most of the past decade. Before exploring accounts payable and workflow solutions with MHC, he wrote about fields including cybersecurity, workforce management, online accessibility, audiology, retail sales, and much more. When he’s not doing business writing, he also indulges in writing fiction, journalism, arts criticism, and bar trivia.

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