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By Richard Huff

Big changes are coming to the payment card market when it comes to credit/debit cards, gift and prepaid cards, HSA and FSA cards, loyalty and membership cards, and healthcare ID cards. These personalized cards link consumers to various financial and healthcare systems worldwide. The various payment methods used by customers when purchasing from an organization represent a communications channel worth paying attention to. To keep in step with the evolving methods of customer interaction, organizations need to keep up to date with the latest changes going on with these cards, modify customer communications channels for consistency, and effectively communicate changes to their customers.

In the United States, a payment network, such as Visa or Mastercard, connects the retailer or service provider to the card-issuing institution. With each transaction, the networks charge an interchange fee based on the purchase price. Currently, when a customer uses a card with the Visa logo, the merchant must use the Visa payment network and pay Visa the interchange fee. The Credit Card Competition Act of 2023, currently working its way through Congress, aims to reduce credit card interchange fees by giving merchants a choice when it comes to the networks they use. The legislation requires card-issuing banks to offer a choice of at least two networks, one of which is either Visa or Mastercard, by which transactions can be processed.

The intent of the legislation is to reduce consumer costs by introducing competition and driving down the interchange fees. Proponents say merchants may pass those lower costs onto consumers, leading to an improved customer experience. However, the legislation does not require merchants to lower their prices and they may choose to keep the savings. Opponents point out that, if credit card issuers lose out on interchange fee revenue, they may diminish their rewards programs to make up for the loss.

Consumers have changed how they use payment cards in the past several years. Due to the fact that fraud remains the biggest challenge facing the retail industry, card production has changed over time as well. Increased payment card fraud pushed card networks Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) to promote EMV chips as a more secure transaction method. During a transaction with a card reader, the EMV chips transmit unique codes for each purchase instead of the credit card number, as opposed to the magnetic stripe having the credit card number encoded on the stripe and passing the full number to the reader with each swipe. Fraud liability regulations placed the liability for losses on any merchant that did not switch to EMV technology, which rapidly increased adoption. According to Visa, there was an 825% increase in the number of businesses accepting EMV cards between 2015 and 2019.

Beginning in 2024, newly issued Mastercard credit and debit cards will no longer be required to include a magnetic stripe, with a plan to completely phase them out by 2033. The elimination of the stripe opens up new card design opportunities using the back of the card.

The COVID-19 pandemic also had a major impact on how consumers used payment cards. Sheltering in place, consumers transitioned many aspects of their personal and business routines online, including purchases of household goods, office supplies, and food. A study by Arlington Research found that about 40% of consumers shopped via a brand’s website for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly half of those consumers plan to continue to make purchases on those sites. It took 20 years for ecommerce to garner 10% of the retail market, but in 2020 alone, ecommerce sales increased by 43%, rising from $571.2 billion in 2019 to $815.4 billion in 2020.

Once the addition of EMV chips addressed counterfeit fraud at the point-of-sale, criminals moved online to conduct card-not-present (CNP) transactions. Datos Insights estimates that in the U.S., CNP fraud losses will exceed $9 billion in 2023 and approach nearly $13 billion by 2026. To mitigate CNP fraud, credit card issuers have adopted 3D Secure authentication (3DS), which is a new security protocol for validating online card transactions and verifying card users’ identities. “3D" refers to the “three domains" involved in verifying each transaction, which include the credit or debit card issuer, the merchant's bank, and the payment platform that processes and verifies the consumer's transaction. While the major credit card issuers have implemented 3DS into their payment processes, businesses have been slow to adopt the new protocol on their web-based platforms. 3DS adds steps to the check-out process and consumers are more likely to abandon a shopping cart if the checkout process is too complex. Until the new protocol is mandated, retailers need to balance the additional security against hassle-free transactions.

Another major change is the emergence and increased adoption of alternatives to payment cards for consumers. Following the pandemic, the retail market saw a rise in the popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) offerings. Similar to layaway plans, but leveraging digital payments, BNPL loans represent a way for consumers to spread out their payments into equal installments over a set period of time. Retailers often offer BNPL plans with no interest to increase sales.

Digital wallets offer another alternative to payment cards. A digital wallet is a financial transaction app running on a smartphone or tablet. The application stores the payment account information and allows consumers to make purchases without using cards or cash. The app is connected to the consumer’s financial account and transmits data through encrypted communications. From 2022 to 2026, global digital wallet use is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% online and 15% at point-of-sale (POS). In the United States, 32% of online transactions and 12% of POS transactions are made using digital wallets, which provide enhanced security through information encryption. However, if an unauthorized individual gains access to the mobile device, they could potentially access the digital wallet, putting all the personal information and financial assets at risk.

Customer experiences can be hampered by inconsistencies between platforms and communications channels. Multichannel interactions have gained popularity in recent years as customers flip between websites, mobile apps, and in-person shopping. To keep up, organizations must present the same experience between channels. A customer’s choice of payment method is just as important as the channel used by the organization to communicate back to the customer.

Payment methods are inexorably linked to customer communications. The methods and channels used for payment open new opportunities for customer communications. As payment methods evolve, organizations must change their customer communications management processes to keep up. The processes through which customers pay for goods and services are a critical aspect of the overall customer experience. Difficult checkout processes or inconsistencies between channels can quickly cause customers to abandon the transaction. Organizations need to maintain a balanced approach by supporting new payment methods while maintaining consistency.

By Richard Huff

Increased awareness of artificial intelligence (AI) has drawn attention to how AI is used throughout corporate systems, including customer communications management (CCM).  AI is being woven into the fabric of business, becoming an integral part of both the design and content of an organization’s customer communications. Despite the current publicity, which makes the technology appear novel, AI has been in use long enough to penetrate nearly every element within the IT infrastructure, including CCM systems.

AI and its transformational capabilities have emerged at a time when widespread digital adoption has burdened organizations with massive amounts of data, while at the same time, customer expectations are high. As organizations digitize communications to better meet customer demands, AI-augmented CCM tools provide the ability to improve the customer experience with enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.

As an example, organizations looking to upgrade from a legacy platform often face a difficult transition process. Converting document layouts from proprietary formats for use in new CCM platforms is both cumbersome and time-consuming. New AI-based tools ingest legacy document formats and evaluate and identify common elements, including logos, headers, and paragraphs, used across multiple document templates. The tools break down the templates into reusable content elements and categorize each element by style and usage in a content library. The new CCM platform ingests content elements from the library while retaining the individual elements. Any changes made to an element, such as revision of a corporate logo or a legal disclaimer, propagate automatically across all document templates where that element is used.

Generative AI tools also enable organizations to improve the language used in customer communications. The tool can be trained to adjust the complexity of phrases and sentences used in a document for a specific reading level. AI tools can also change the sentiment of the language without changing the intent.

With its ability to quickly scrutinize vast volumes of data, AI is a boon for organizations dealing with millions of daily communications, but its lack of transparency introduces serious risks. The inability of AI to provide visibility into the reasoning and decisioning process creates several obstacles. It’s essential to understand the risks of relying solely on AI. Without transparency, it’s impossible to explain why a decision was made or produce an audit trail showing that corporate policies were followed. If a business cannot demonstrate how an outcome was reached, its compliance department is at risk for potential regulatory repercussions or class action lawsuits. Opaque AI also makes it difficult to prevent bias. Generative AI systems utilize massive datasets to make decisions. When the data, algorithms, or decision-making processes used in training an AI system are biased, the results can also be biased. Determining when and why an erroneous decision occurred is the only way to teach the AI engine how to spot similar issues in the future. Constant input and refinement improve the learning model.

Ultimately, AI-augmented tools enhance productivity and accelerate response times for well-defined queries. The tools analyze data for repeatable patterns and assume future activity will follow the same patterns; however, the tools can generate gibberish when facing new patterns and are prone to recreate biases in the underlying dataset. Without supervision, AI-based tools are vulnerable to complex or poorly defined scenarios and inquiries, so the resulting output suffers from trust and reliability issues. With human oversight, organizations can benefit from AI tools with their ability to enhance the construction and clarity of customer communications.

By Richard Huff

Ensuring the success of your customer communications strategy requires constant vigilance and willingness to make improvements. By starting with small, measurable steps and working toward implementing your organization’s overall CCM goals, improved processes can enrich the overall customer experience.

A great way to start is by creating customer journey maps that outline the many ways in which a customer interacts with departments within the organization. This exercise will reveal bottlenecks and disconnects in the process, typically between departments or communication channels, defining areas where improvements can be made.

Forms automation

An area that represents one of the most common challenges in a customer journey is business forms. Forms collect data so the information can be relayed in an organized fashion. However, organizations create forms to cover a number of situations and customers frequently need to skip sections or repeatedly enter the same data to navigate a business process. If multiple forms need to be completed, the process becomes quite time consuming and frustrating for both customers and employees.

Finding a way to automate the forms process can be done in different ways, from screen scraping data, which is collecting data from one application to then repurpose it to another, to full digital forms applications; however, successful automation requires more than just data collection. The goal should be to simplify the entire workflow to avoid situations where customers need to re-start a process due to missing information. Multiple software solutions exist that provide true forms process automation.

A fully automated forms process makes for a better customer experience by auto-filling fields from corporate data sources, skipping fields or entire sections based on the data and answers provided during the process, and intelligently routing the completed form through multiple individuals involved in the workflow. These features accelerate the end-to-end process and take advantage of the investment in existing systems. A simplified process can also reduce customer service call volumes by better addressing customer expectations.

Document and process reengineering

As we look to improve processes and identify areas that need improvement, another opportunity can be found in how we produce our documents. Organizations that have made a significant investment in CCM systems resist migration to new solutions due to the time required to bring a new CCM system online. Many of these solutions are complex document composition systems capable of generating hundreds of thousands of unique invoices, statements and policies. While these systems are capable of handling letters and other smaller documents, they are often not the priority.

Line of business and IT resource limitations force organizations to first target the largest and most complex applications or those that have the most impact on business. Low-volume documents do not seem worth the effort to re-create in a new CCM solution.

There are many well-established CCM toolkits on the market capable of quickly reengineering archaic documents by adding color and marketing messages or by replacing older corporate logos to provide customers with a consistent look and feel. These solutions work in parallel with the primary CCM solution utilizing the same content resources.

In the same vein, smaller process automation solutions can be implemented to address the needs of smaller departments and applications. These solutions can be implemented quickly while still being in line with the organization’s overall CCM strategy. In some cases, these solutions can be installed remotely, further reducing the burden on IT resources. Smaller process automation systems operate independently or feed documents into a centralized production facility. The solutions come with established connectors for common business platforms, such as Salesforce, which enable quick integration. It is important to collect the tracking data from the independent systems and feed that information into a central repository to provide an enterprise-wide view of processes. Detailed tracking and data collection enables the organization to make informed decisions regarding the success of the project.

By leveraging several smaller solutions in parallel with core CCM applications, organizations can roll out automation over time with less investment and less risk. Organizations can also resolve process bottlenecks in a timelier fashion than waiting for core CCM resources to become available.

Of course, all automation efforts should be made with the overall CCM strategy in mind. In putting a focus on smaller solutions that feed into the bigger picture, it is important to measure their value to your business and to your customers. Finding ways to automate processes through small, measurable steps will result in a faster, more efficient workflow overall. Forms automation and process reengineering projects will have a significant impact on the customer experience and enable organizations to see improvements without the heavy lifting associated with a full CCM solution implementation.

By Amber Knight, Program/Project Manager and Analyst

Typically, requirements gathering is conducted at the beginning of a project and can take up a large portion of the project timeline. The documented requirements are used as specifications to build the solution being delivered (deliverables), often in the form of a solution design document or similar. Once the solution has been built, it will be validated/tested. Hence, it is vital that requirements are correct and provide the appropriate level of detail for the best initial build of the solution. Issues found during testing typically require rework and subsequent retesting/validation which can impact both the project timeline and budget.

At a high level, a requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a list of all project requirements and links them to test cases, which can provide value in numerous ways. Here are some of the benefits of using an RTM:

Running the right tests - Requirement traceability helps your test and quality assurance teams understand what needs to be tested, as well as how it should be tested. An RTM ensures all deliverables are tested by mapping each test case back to its corresponding requirement. Additionally, opportunities to streamline the test/validation process are easily identified with an RTM.

Compliance validation - Compliance regulations can be complex. Using an RTM can simplify the capturing and tracking of regulatory requirements. Using an RTM in this way may also be referred to as a “compliance matrix.”

Acceptance criteria - One of the key aspects of acceptance criteria is having requirements that have satisfied testing/validation.

Scope and change management - An RTM can be used to identify gaps in specifications that were documented during the requirements gathering process. It can also be used in later project phases as part of the impact analysis of changes in scope or requirements.

Additional considerations

All project artifacts, including the RTM, should be accessible and easy to understand, regardless of expertise. Using simple and straightforward language reduces confusion. After the team feels the requirements have been thoroughly documented, they should be reviewed by applicable stakeholders as part of the requirements validation process. Requirements should be formally approved.

A project repository with updated version-controlled artifacts is highly recommended. Any concerns regarding sensitive information that is not meant for the entire team can usually be handled easily via user access privileges. Additionally, the repository should be organized in a way that is conducive to locating documentation. This can go a long way in reducing the frustration of all parties.

Requirements are critical to the success of any project as they set the stage for what is delivered and accepted. Assumptions can lead to a project's failure by causing it to go off course and requiring many iterations of rework. By using tools such as an RTM, project teams that have a clear understanding of the requirements are more likely to succeed in delivering successful projects. This is a win-win for everyone—especially the customer.

By Richard Huff

As an analyst and consulting firm, Madison Advisors takes immense pride in offering enterprise clients context-specific guidance that leads to success in customer communications management (CCM). While it’s true that the quality of our research reflects our team’s combined experience in the industries we serve, we’re also committed to staying current on market predictions and trends to offer up-to-date and insightful analyses and take advantage of every opportunity to expand our expertise by learning and networking alongside industry leaders.

Most recently, members of our team attended and spoke at Xplor International’s 2023 CCM Summit, an event held from November 14-16 that featured various panels, exhibits and discussions related to CCM. It will likely come as no surprise that the two and a half days of the Summit included plenty of buzz around the topic of AI, with a number of educational presentations taking a close look at how these technologies can be applied within CCM. In addition to exploring recent advancements in AI, such as the generative capabilities popularized by ChatGPT, these presentations explored how AI platforms offer solutions to common CCM challenges, from organizing customer data to tailoring content for a particular reading comprehension level.

The intersection of AI and CCM is one that’s especially interesting to us, given the growing market of solutions that leverage AI technologies to enhance, personalize and streamline all processes related to customer communications. With generative AI, new drafts don’t begin with a blank document and a blinking cursor; instead, they can draw from an organization’s full archive of previous communications and offer greater agility when it comes to tailoring each message to an individual customer profile. Generative AI capabilities are now being built into the vast majority of current CCM systems and processes, which means that an organization’s choice to opt into these technologies is less a matter of “if” than “when.”

Madison Advisors’ forthcoming market study explores this current landscape of AI-augmented software tools and their ability to improve processes, reduce costs and perform functions that were previously outside the scope of CCM. While still in progress, this study currently includes evaluations of 14 solutions from 8 different vendors. Each solution is assessed for its capabilities in the areas of customer data processing, content migration, onboarding and process workflows. Additional data points include the ability of the platform to adjust communications for various reading levels, offer conversational responses and reflect an appropriate sentiment—all of which are essential components of outstanding AI-augmented customer service.

Staying abreast of current trends and technologies is fundamental to our work at Madison Advisors. This current landscape of AI-augmented software tools is exciting and one that we will be following in the new year.

Click here for more about our market research and the industries we serve.

By Amber Knight

In the past, I was a senior project manager for a large international customer communications management (CCM) service provider. Over the years, I supported several areas within the organization including sales, implementation and production. I was fortunate to be one of the employees selected to participate in our Six Sigma program. As part of our training, we were given examples of operational issues and were asked to apply what we had learned and utilize the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) tools to propose a solution. At the beginning of our training, I was eager to solve the issue and often wanted to skip right to the Improve phase because I felt confident that I would solve the problem with the information provided. As our training progressed, my hypotheses occasionally proved correct, but there were many times when the information provided by the detailed analysis drove a different solution than what I had anticipated. I quickly learned that without measuring and analyzing, my solution was based on limited information. I still possess a strong desire to solve problems, but I've learned that the solution path requires careful consideration of the details.

Several years later, my Six Sigma Master Black Belt coach was asked to create a small continuous improvement task force, which initiated our company’s Continuous Improvement Delivery Team (CIDT). CIDT team members would retain their existing jobs while spending about 20% of their time supporting a continuous improvement project. Over the next few years, I would travel to different sites in order to identify the root cause of an issue, propose a solution, and ultimately manage implementing it. I recall someone asking me why I would want to do all the added CIDT work. My answer back then was the same as today: I love making things better! Process improvement is my passion.

The skills and knowledge of continuous improvement can be applied to a variety of project activities, such as looking for process improvements when gathering requirements. I have found that one of the best tools for this is a process flow diagram, which is a visual representation of the steps involved in a process, providing a way to identify areas where improvement is needed. A process flow diagram can be used to represent any process within an organization. Here are a few situations where they can prove useful:

  • To understand the details involved in a process
  • To illustrate for others how a process works
  • To facilitate project team communication
  • To document current and future state
  • To streamline a process

A process flow diagram is a multi-tool in your project management toolbelt.

Looking to accelerate your implementation timelines? Do you have over-stretched resources?

Madison Advisors is here to help — from advisory services through managing a revamp of your onboarding process or project management office. Madison Advisors can fully examine your CCM strategy with a focus on supporting a positive customer experience and engagement.

By Richard Huff

Organizations collect and store personal customer data for a wide range of purposes, including marketing, fraud prevention, and identity verification. As a result of the public’s concern over how their personal data is used and shared, regulations have propagated at state and federal levels to establish consumers’ data privacy rights. Organizations must now balance their needs for customer data against the customer’s right to privacy.

Data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, are projected to cover 65% of the global population by the end of 2023, which is sharply risen from roughly 10% in 2021. These regulations include penalties for organizations that do not abide, based on the location of the customer and not the organization.

This presents a challenge as customers’ personal data is vital to an organization’s marketing efforts. Digital advertising relies on personal data to serve up offers and promotions tailored to a customer’s interests. Organizations leverage cookies, preferences, and first-party data to deliver highly personalized marketing. Google, the largest digital advertising platform, has announced changes to how its products will manage and deliver digital ads. Google will phase out support for internet cookies, driving organizations to rely on first-party data collected directly from its customers to support personalized marketing.

Consent and preference management (CPM) technology encompasses two aspects of data privacy. Consent management refers to the collection and management of customers’ explicit permission to collect, use, and share their personal data for specific purposes. Preference management involves allowing individuals to define and manage their preferences related to how they interact with an organization. These preferences can include communication channels, frequency of communication, content types, and more. Preference management is used to enhance the customer experience and personalization while respecting individual choices and consent.

A number of vendors offer cloud-based CPM solutions to organizations. These solutions use packaged and customizable application programming interfaces (APIs) to collect data from an organization’s back-office systems, including accounting, sales management, and customer relationship management systems. The collected data is assembled to create detailed customer profiles to be used for marketing purposes, which are also used for responding to data inquiries, requests to delete personal data, and requests not to share or sell personal data.

Building trust with customers is crucial to the success of any organization. By maintaining a consistent message across all channels, the organization fosters customer loyalty and repeat business. For organizations, CPM solutions ensure that the organization has each customer’s explicit consent to use personal data and send physical or digital communications. For customers, the solutions’ interfaces provide an easy mechanism for changes to preferences and authorization.

Building trust with customers is an ongoing process that requires consistency and a commitment to customer satisfaction. Trust takes time to build, but can be lost quickly if not carefully maintained. As such, consent and preference management acts as one part of an overall CCM strategy designed to build long-term relationships with customers through effective and personalized communications.

For more details about balancing personalization and privacy in customer communications and the current landscape of cloud-based CPM solutions, Madison Advisors’ complimentary research brief, “Consent and Preference Management,” can be downloaded here.

By Amber Knight, Senior Project Manager and Analyst

The customer communications management (CCM) onboarding process is the first opportunity for your organization to connect with a new customer and is a key building block in the foundation of the relationship. An effective onboarding process not only gives your customer a clear path forward, but also supports the lasting first impression of a long-term relationship.

My experience in the field has uncovered 3 key considerations that support both a smooth onboarding process and customer satisfaction:

1. A clear map for the journey - Be a tour guide
2. Streamlined framework - Be prepared to modify as needed
3. Communication - The extra effort goes a long way

1.  A clear map for the journey
Be a tour guide

The first step to successful onboarding is to clearly define the journey.  Much like a tour guide, the project manager should provide an overview of the process and highlight key milestones to be expected along the project’s journey. Throughout the project, the map should be reviewed to communicate items such as current status and next steps. This should be presented in a simple and easy-to-follow visual representation of your organization’s standard process, so that customers  are not  overwhelmed or confused by what you have presented to them. Showing them a process map in the form of a flow chart can be a highly effective communication tool.

2. Streamlined onboarding framework
Be prepared to modify as needed

When it comes to onboarding a new customer, it is equally important that the framework is flexible and allows the team to pivot based on the circumstances that are unique to the project.

Keep it simple. Try to make processes as straightforward as possible, so that everyone can easily understand and follow. Keeping it simple supports more efficient and effective teams.

Expect the unexpected. It’s important to be prepared for the changes that will inevitably come up, so be prepared to adjust when and where needed. Your initial plan may be as accurate as possible, but it will almost certainly need some tweaks after you’ve worked with your new customer for a while.

Communication is key. Establish clear lines of communication and keep all business partners in the loop. This will ensure that everyone has all the information they need to make decisions with confidence, while avoiding confusion and misunderstandings.

3. Communication
The extra effort goes a long way

Empathy cannot be understated. It is important to remember that every customer has different requirements, expectations and experience. Being empathetic to their situation by understanding where they are coming from and adjusting your approach accordingly is a powerful relationship-builder.

Consider the impacts of the transition. Having experience with, or at least exposure to, organizational change management (OCM) can be a big advantage. Often CCM transitions impact several business units that are not part of the core project team. Identifying project champions to help promote a positive reception to future changes can be an effective way of proactively communicating changes to come. The idea is to think beyond the customer in front of you. Consider the upstream and downstream processes impacted. Ensure that communication plans include the customer’s internal and external stakeholders.

Ensure everyone is on the same page. Active listening and proactive communication can prevent confusion and support a clear understanding of what is being delivered…then it needs to be documented. Using a requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a great tool that supports these efforts.

A successful transition and migration project requires these two key things: Understanding your client’s needs and adapting to their needs with empathy, patience and creative thinking.

Looking to accelerate your implementation timelines? Do you have over-stretched resources?

Madison Advisors is here to help — from advisory services through managing a re-vamp of your onboarding process or project management office (PMO). Madison Advisors assists organizations in fully examining their CCM strategy with a focus on how CCM supports a positive customer experience and engagement.

By Richard Huff

With the growth in digital customer interactions, organizations have seen an exponential growth in customer data volume, especially during the pandemic as more customers adopted multiple digital channels for purchasing goods and services. Among the varied data are customer-chosen preferences and consent to contact, which is often distributed across numerous back-office applications with no defined path for utilizing those preferences in a collaborative way across the organization.

The proper management of customer data is critical to providing a good customer experience and meeting various state and regional regulations for data privacy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the European Union’s regulation for data protection and privacy. Although the U.S. lacks a national regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was enacted in 2018 and is a model for other states. A key aspect of both these examples is that the regulations designate the rights of any person living in its jurisdiction and must be followed by enterprises with customers in that jurisdiction. As a result, enterprises with a global customer base must meet overlapping global regulations for customer data privacy, which requires documentation of how the enterprise collects and manages customer data.

Enterprises presenting clear and unambiguous forms to collect customer consent and detailed customer communications preferences earn their customers’ trust. The more transparent an enterprise is in its data collection process, the more comfortable customers are sharing data. Proper management of customer preferences across all forms of communication allows organizations to present products and services that would be of interest to a customer while hiding those that the customer already has or in which the customer has no interest. For example, a customer with property and life insurance policies with the same company would view life insurance mailers included with the property insurance arm of the organization as irrelevant and wasteful—and possibly annoying.

Madison Advisors has seen strong interest from its enterprise clients in best practices and solutions for customer data management. A survey of these enterprises found that most lacked a centralized customer data repository—a single system responsible for maintaining all customer preferences and consents. While many rely on a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, these fail to account for website and mobile application preferences.

Solutions for consent and preference management (CPM) have been available for many years, but adoption in the U.S. has been slow. Primarily software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, the offerings include pre-built application programming interfaces (APIs) with which to extract customer data from common back-office systems, such as CRM systems. The solutions also enable enterprises to build custom APIs to connect to older or less common applications still in use. The CPM solutions record all changes by customers to their consents and preferences regardless of the application or channel used by the customer.

With the passage of new regulations across more geographies and increased use of digital channels for customer communications, the issue of CPM will become more complex. Madison Advisors considers CPM to be an integral component for improved customer experience and expects enterprises that don’t add CPM to an overall CCM/CX strategy to face greater business and legal challenges. Later this fall, Madison Advisors will publish in-depth research on the CPM market and available solutions.

By Richard Huff

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes for big headlines. Applications such as ChatGPT offer the ability to “write” term papers and also stand as one of the drivers behind the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike. AI impacts all aspects of modern life. In the context of customer communications, AI provides a number of benefits and its integration into applications can deliver remarkable results.

For an enterprise seeking automated document processing, AI uses advanced versions of optical character recognition (OCR) to classify a document by reading metadata and eliminating the need for manual verification and sorting. In addition, an AI-powered document scanning solution accurately extracts the contents and automatically converts the documents, which then enables users to access the document on any platform. The joint power of OCR and AI speeds up the document management process and reduces human interaction and error.

Once the document has been captured and categorized, AI-driven systems streamline and automate business workflows by routing documents to the necessary departments or individuals. The elimination of paper-based workflows enables enterprises to support work-from-home and distributed workplace environments. Industries with the highest percentage of paper-based workflows, including healthcare and insurance, faced the most difficult challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees were unable to come into the office.

For enterprises with volumes of legacy documents, new AI-driven software analyzes existing documents with unsupervised algorithms that enable the software to create new content using existing content. Alternatively, the software can devolve the legacy documents into content elements and organize the content for re-use. For example, a collection of claims approval letters, which share a significant amount of the same legal language, can be converted from a dozen or more unique document templates into a single template with a small set of selectable text.

AI-driven software tools also transform content. The tools proofread the text to ensure it is grammatically correct and also simplify the text by tuning it for a given reading level, streamlining the formatting and suggesting alternatives. These tools enable enterprises to quickly refresh decades-old content without laborious manual editing processes.

For digital-first customer communications, such as blogs and chatbots, AI tools analyze content and customer data across business lines and generate communications for the topics in which most customers would be interested. AI tools also cleanse customer data by merging data and preferences from multiple sources to deliver a single view of the customer. The result is more effective customer interactions and improved click-through rates.

With new and emerging AI-powered software, enterprises will be able to create an improved customer experience while, at the same time, reducing the manual labor involved in CCM. By investing in AI-powered CCM tools now, enterprises can both reduce costs and grow market share through an improved customer experience.

Over the past two decades, Madison Advisors' industry-neutral expertise enables enterprise organizations, service providers and technology providers to achieve their strategic objectives around today’s evolving customer communications management (CCM) requirements.
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