Yup, Chicago is as rainy and cold in early May as I remember from my days as a Florida native attending Northwestern University. But it was well worth leaving sunny, warm South Florida for the annual Document Strategy Forum (#DSF17CHI).
All the keynotes and presentations emphasized the growing strategic imperative for organizations to focus on and improve the customer experience as the key to growth and market differentiation. Of course, customer communications and payments are central to this effort, putting new urgency and pressure on getting them right.
Best practices are quickly evolving, prompting major changes in communications approaches, technology, organization and management. Here are some key takeaways from the Document Strategy Forum:
Focus on the customer journey
Easier said than done, of course. Many business units and their communications are decentralized, and audits reveal an organization may use dozens, even hundreds of different IT tools and platforms, print vendors, designers, and distributors. Documents serve many purposes from marketing to billing to customer service and different operating groups use various and sometimes out-of-date customer databases. To become customer-centric, then:
Consider centralizing ownership of customer communications
More companies are moving to this model, conferring cross-department authority and appointing leaders to oversee communications with titles such as Chief Customer Officer and Chief Experience Officer. This enterprise-wide and holistic approach is a recognition of the value of creating customer communications and interactions with consistent quality and branding and coordinated messaging.
Rethink content structures
Legacy content structures limit flexibility and change management. Forward-thinking organizations must re-architect the way that content is created, structured and accessed, moving to a shared repository. In such a structure, for example, users create pieces of content maintained in a library and that tie to multiple templates and communication channels. Doing so has a tremendous impact on efficiency.
Embrace adaptive content
Much like how responsive design for websites changes the way content is displayed for the viewing device itself, e.g. phone vs. laptop, adaptive content varies word count to deliver a similar message based on the communication channel, e.g. text = 50 words and email = 500 words.
Move to omni-channel communications from multi-channel
Omni-channel communications is a more sophisticated and coordinated approach to engaging customers. Multi-channel simply means using two or more channels, such as email, website and social media, to reach customers. And multi-channelers aren’t necessarily focused on a seamless experience across interactions or optimizing the experience for different devices. Omni-channel communications address those shortcomings and support a focus on the customer journey.
Adopting this new paradigm in customer communications is far from simple or easy. But it’s increasingly essential in a world with rising customer expectations and competitors responding to these customer demands. You will hear more from us over the coming months as we dive more deeply into each of the trends.
What does your customer journey look like? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Bryan joined Nordis Technologies in 2016 to lead marketing and business development in hospitality, healthcare and financial services. Bryan spent more than 21 years with Interval International, a leading global provider of vacation ownership services, and holds a bachelor of science in political science from Northwestern University.