The Value of Customer Communications

The Value of Customer Communications

Many organizations in mature industries such as telecom, insurance, finance, banking and print-for-pay service bureaus often don’t recognize the value inherent in their communications with customers.

Mature industries expand via mergers and acquisitions, resulting in bolted-on business applications that complicate the communication and marketing processes. These bolt-ons exist within business silos and have disparate communication infrastructure and approaches, none of which are harmonized to give customers a sense that their business is important to the organization.

Now, organizations can use enterprise output management (EOM) solutions to unlock the once-hidden value in consistent, personalized communications to help retain customers and increase customer lifetime value. For the past 20 years or so, organizations looked to enterprise asset management (EAM) tools, like SAP, to account for and manage physical assets.

This approach centered on design, construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and replacement of plant, equipment and facility assets. EAM solutions reduced labor, cost and time to market for global changes; decreased redundant processes; and brought visibility and agility to asset management. Next, organizations looked to enterprise content management (ECM) tools to centrally organize and store data, documents and other content, which helped support customer communications and customer relationship management.

ECM solutions unified access to content previously stored in disparate systems and reduced labor costs while allowing organizations to quickly implement global changes. They could then also access and leverage data formerly unavailable — providing visibility to their customers, and increased awareness of their needs and the services they receive.

Today, due to increasing competitive pressures, organizations must centrally manage customer communications to effectively deliver messages to multiple channels such as Web, email and mobile devices. The solution is to use enterprise output management tools to manage the creation and distribution of both physical and electronic communications.

EOM solutions maximize the value and content of each communication, ensure delivery to the desired channel, and enable faster time to market. It also is the most cost-effective way to implement global communication changes across the organization.

Done correctly, organizations gain a single view and control point for all outbound communications while significantly reducing labor, cost and time to market for marketing, personalization and migration to digital presentment alternatives. More importantly, organizations satisfy customers by engaging with them wherever and whenever they choose.

EOM tools, such as Bell and Howell’s
software and workflow suites, use a centralized utility that allows multiple business lines, regardless of the legacy system they are created in, to apply channel-specific formatting parameters after the messages are created. This greatly reduces ongoing support and implementation costs, significantly reduces the time to transition business applications to modern distribution channels, and provides a platform to cross-sell and upsell to customers. Most importantly, EOM solutions provide a consolidated view of the end-to-end customer communication process — allowing transaction-level visibility within business lines and customer service organizations.

The primary components of EOM solutions — workflow automation and post-composition tools — enable just-in-time application of common formatting and distribution requirements, which help ensure compliance and consistency across applications and delivery channels. EOM solutions can enhance legacy application documents to insert color, electronic onserts, inserts and forms overlays, as well as marketing messages and personalized information to increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Once assembled, the communication can be custom formatted, optimally packaged, and then guided to the appropriate distribution channel. Centralizing the communication distribution process gives organizations an enterprise dashboard, enabling real-time visibility and reporting on all aspects of the physical and electronic distribution processes.

In addition, EOM solutions can catapult mature organizations’ disorganized communication silos into nimble, customer-focused operations that attract new customers, retain customers, and increase their lifetime value. Presenting the right content over the right channel consistently across all business lines will positively impact customers’ overall impression of your organization.

As technology continues to evolve and channels of communications expand, EOM tools will position your organization to continue to quickly adapt to these changes.


Mike Lambert
VP/GM, Omni Channel at Bell and Howell. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.