There’s been an undeniable shift in customer engagement and communications, in the direction of full, multi-channel customer experience management (CXM) – aka digital experience (DX). Many of Doculabs’ clients are starting to consider implementing a strategy toward providing their customers a multi-channel experience.
In my most recent post, I discussed the challenges and the opportunities in the current market. This time around, I want to look at where this leaves the print channel, which, after all, continues to serve a portion of these organizations’ communications with their customers – and also discuss what to do in the meantime.
Is the Print Channel Being Ignored?
While print still dominates the billing and statement production world, it appears to be an afterthought for the emerging digital experience and customer experience management vendors.
One of the least-discussed aspects of the multi-channel experience movement is the inclusion of the print channel along with the emerging digital channels. Many analyst reports regarding customer experience management and digital experience vendors don’t even mention print capabilities or integrated print and digital experiences.
And why are we forgetting print? Surely print isn’t going away anytime soon, given that it still represents 65 to 75 percent of all statement and customer billing communications produced today. Although volumes are projected to continue to decline at 4 to 5 percent annually, print will continue to be a significant channel, involving billions of customer touches per year.
Is our rush to be new, cool, relevant, and/or sexy by addressing digital experiences only causing more dysfunction, complexity, and confusion by neglecting to address print integration?
Corporations are being further challenged to bridge the gaps across products and technologies in order to complete their improved customer experience journeys. Most companies have addressed the issue by either adding another siloed process and technology set, or by trying to leverage their existing CCM technology investment into the digital space. Both of these approaches have provided only partial success.
Is There Another Way?
Some are beginning to turn the equation around, or at least to ask the question differently. Instead of trying to leverage traditional print channel technology effectively for digital channels, why not begin with the digital channel technologies, and treat the print channel as secondary?
Great question! After all, the fastest-growing segment for corporate customer communications spending is the digital channels, and CXM/DX tools and capabilities are much more robust for addressing the broader set of customer experience objectives.
The reality is that the CXM and DX vendors have largely left the print channel off their radar screens. In fact, most analyst discussion of this space is completely void of references to printed communications and their role in creating an extraordinary customer experience. Yet multiple studies have shown that a well-executed, integrated, print and digital communications approach yields better results than any single channel approach on its own. For marketing campaigns, that means higher open and take rates, and for operations, it means higher levels of customer satisfaction, which may increase retention. The bottom line is that the channel-integrated communications approach improves the bottom line.
While we wait for the continued evolution and convergence of technologies and/or vendors across the CXM/DX/WCM and CCM spaces, there are a few things corporations can do to prepare themselves.
Prepare for Technology Convergence across Channels
As it will likely be a few years before the different technologies become more integrated, corporations focusing on the following concepts will be better positioned to deliver improved experiences in the future and in the interim.
- Create a comprehensive multi-channel communications and customer experience strategy, and clearly define your objectives and priorities over a 3- to 5-year period.
- Learn more about what your customers want and expect, relative to specific touch points and channels.
- Set specific goals relative to touch points and channels.
- Drive toward common publishing processes, including content reviews and approvals (even if implemented within different tools for the near term).
- Develop a modular content architecture to drive consistency through single sourcing of content.
- Improve personalization and relevance by integrating your backend or upstream data and systems to aggregate and integrate customer data more easily.
- Push the vendor community to bring together these related but disjointed solutions.
It’s unfortunate that the market for CCM/CXM/DX/WCM technologies hasn’t consolidated more at this point, providing a more comprehensive and integrated set of solutions to address all of our customer communications needs. But if history is any teacher, you can expect that consolidation to take place over the next 2 to 3 years. Let’s face it – you’ve got lots of work to do before you can leverage the future advanced toolset, anyway.