The best customer communications in 2021 will look a lot like those from 2020. The pandemic has clarified what customers need and want. And it’s underscored the no-longer-optional elements of a modern, effective customer communications management (CCM) solution.
Here are seven CCM best practices for 2021:
- Omnichannel. Demand for digital is only accelerating. According to 2020 research by Nordis client ACI Worldwide, nearly twice as many consumers now prefer digital billing statements to paper ones–48% to 25%. But that still leaves a lot of people who want print communications.
The ability to meet consumer expectations across a range of delivery channels is quickly becoming a non-negotiable. If you don’t meet expectations, consumers will take their business to companies that do: 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor offered a better experience, according to Salesforce research.
- Mobile-optimized. It’s not enough to offer digital delivery of documents. Responsive design ensures that statements, letters and other correspondence render properly when viewed on smart phones. Mobile internet use surpassed computers back in 2016, and the trend of mobile everything from shopping to bill pay has only strengthened during COVID-19 lockdowns and limitations.
- Cloud-based. The value of secure, cloud-based CCM software was underscored as so many employees began working from home. With no need to involve IT or set up new security and log in procedures, companies didn’t miss a beat in creating and distributing critical communications.
A flexible, self-service cloud platform also gives companies the control to quickly react to business conditions and opportunities. It’s fast and easy to create and approve new communications and new messaging to keep customers abreast of COVID-19 and other developments.
- Consolidated. A coordinated, consistent experience is paramount to consumers. Customers are 3.7 times more likely to see seamless transitions between channels as important versus unimportant, according to Salesforce. Combining all customer communications onto a single platform breaks down departmental silos and gives companies a fuller view of their customers. They can assess their current touch points and better synchronize, fine tune and track customer outreach.
- Integrated. Billing and payments are a customer experience (CX) hotspot. How you handle these interactions sets the stage for building customer loyalty or losing it. Customers want convenience and choice, and companies want to remove barriers to payments. By linking financial communications with electronic presentment and bill pay (EBPP) options, you simplify and encourage the call to action to pay the bill.
- Digitally transformed. Switching to digital processes enables automation, which delivers cost savings, agility and new capabilities to improve CX and operations. Companies cannot afford to stick with manual, error-prone and slow processes.
- Personalized. Customers increasingly expect companies to know them and their buyers’ journey across touchpoints—and to tailor communications and other interactions accordingly. The great challenge is that there is no single buyer journey, and companies need to meet expectations for each customer’s experiences.
Personalization demands “an integrated approach to both analog and digital channels that match the speed and preferences of multiple customer segments” from traditional to digital-savvy customers, according to Accenture’s Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?
Delivering against these consumer needs and wants is a highly complex undertaking. It gets exponentially more complicated with every new communications channel that’s added.
Technology is the key to putting these best practices in place and managing the complexity. Companies that make the effort will build stronger engagement and improve customer retention while attracting new customers from competitors that aren’t as quick to adapt.