Technology continues to improve our day-to-day lives in sometimes subtle, but very transformative ways. Take developments in automobile technology over the past several years. These days, car makers are incorporating more and more safety features, such as crash avoidance technologies, that surpass the limitations of human perception and reaction time to help ensure driver safety. These systems make sure that drivers receive multi-sensory warnings about the potentially dangerous movements of other vehicles and autonomously put on the brakes when a crash needs to be avoided. In the near future, cars will even “talk” to each other via radio signals to ensure they avoid colliding with one another.
Technology is not only overcoming human limitations on the road, it’s doing so in our work environments as well. Let’s talk about a topic we all love to discuss: customer communications. For most organizations, too often many of the barriers to efficient and effective customer communications are caused by human limitations like the following:
- The managing of content and rules in spreadsheets and Word documents in a cumbersome manual process
- An IT department that needs weeks or months to schedule work and test resulting changes to communications
- Lack of processes across the organization to develop new communications, approve them and get them into production, often resulting in errors and slow time to market
In a recent survey, 60 percent of corporate IT managers admitted that their processes are not effective at communicating and coordinating changes occurring within their production environment. It’s clear that something needs to be done and every organization should take the time to evaluate how technology can overcome the human limitations that may be holding their company back.
I have talked a lot about creating a secure environment for business users to directly own and control touchpoint messaging content and business rules, which can drive the pace of change for customer-facing print and digital communications. Implementing such an approach can overcome the human limitations described above and help companies get their critical customer messages where they need to go.
Should it be possible for business users—not just IT—to create, modify and approve customer messaging content and targeting rules in communications across channels? I think so. Using an approach of this kind offers many benefits by giving those closest to the customer full control of messaging content from inception to production, making message changes as well as creating new messages a simple process. The implications for enhanced collaboration, improved agility and time-to-market are obvious.
What it can look like in practice
Here’s a typical example—a large financial services firm realized that its key communications for retirement products, including welcome kits, had become unmanageable and did not facilitate a positive user experience for a number of reasons, including:
- Every change to communications required expensive, time-consuming IT support for coding
- Existing communications had minimal targeting and personalization
Giving business users an easy to use, collaborative platform for managing transactional communications without help from IT solved these issues. Personalization and targeting rules are now managed in the cloud without any need for code changes. Variation management abilities of the platform allowed the organization to manage the numerous client versions of similar communications elegantly, making new customer onboarding a simple process. With all content being rights-managed with full audit controls and built-in approval workflow, managing changes to content becomes extremely easy. As messaging content is external to delivery systems, business users have the option to reuse content in the future across channels such as email, web, or SMS – a big consideration for omni-channel and multichannel communications.
These capabilities, in conjunction with solid design principles, enabled the firm to redesign welcome kits so that they offered an appealing full-color design, are easy to understand, add personalization and lead to an improved customer experience. The financial services firm was able to make these changes in weeks, not months, and saved approximately $150K from its budget in the process.
Chances are there are areas in your organization where human limitations are holding back agility and innovation. As in the case of automobile safety, finding the right technology and leveraging it to overcome these limitations may be the best way to improve your company’s processes and get you safely and swiftly down the road.
It might be time to rethink the use of spreadsheets and Word docs to manage message variations in your customer communications. How many of you find those tools cumbersome?