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Providing a Distinctive Customer Experience: The Power of Customer Communications Management

When it comes to customer communications, a personalized, multichannel experience is required.

Optimizing the customer experience has become essential for banks, and consumers expect to be able to interact with their banks quickly and easily — whenever and from wherever. To deliver on customer expectations, banks must enhance document creation and delivery capabilities to provide clients with a consistent, personalized experience across the expanding variety of channels. As document management has evolved into customer communications management, what's required for banks to produce and distribute targeted, relevant multichannel customer communications? And how can banks capitalize on advances in document creation, output and delivery?

For USAA, Customer Comunications Means Staying Connected

By Michael Baublit, Assistant VP of Marketing & Channel Operations, USAA (San Antonio)

USAA takes an outside-in view of the needs of our members — the men and women of the military and their families — and we strive continually to anticipate and develop innovative solutions to help meet them. Our goal is to build on our legacy of excellent customer service to make it simple and easy for our members to manage their everyday financial matters by providing access in any channel they choose to transact with us.

We invest in infrastructure that provides an integrated platform for the entire duration of a marketing campaign to ensure consistent, relevant and timely messaging to our members across all outbound communication channels. This interactive marketing approach incorporates customer and web analytics, centralized decision making, cross-channel campaign execution, and integrated marketing operations in a manner that can be automated and delivered across multiple channels, according to each member's preference. This approach helps ensure members receive the same exceptional, personalized level of service, consistency and quality, regardless of channel.

Today, USAA members can use their smartphones, tablets or the Internet to access their accounts, transact business and purchase many of our products and services. They enjoy best-in-industry service when they call USAA to talk with one of our representatives or licensed financial advisers, and they can walk into one of our USAA Financial Centers and enjoy the best of USAA in a face-to-face environment.

Customers Demand a Single View From Their Banks

By Marcia Wakeman, Partner, North American Banking Practice, Capco (New York)

Communicating with customers requires adept management of inbound and outbound messages across multiple channels — branch, call center, online, mobile and traditional mail — all while accommodating customer preferences. In the case of outbound communications, automated tools are essential for content authoring, workflow management, document creation, review and approval — including legal and compliance steps — and multichannel delivery. These tools can manage the content, branding and integration with customer data, all of which are necessary to create accurate, timely, and targeted communications to your customers.

Customers should be able to select different channels (e.g., email, text message, online, etc.) for different types of messages, such as account statements and balance alerts. The ability to manage their preferences, including unsubscribing from feeds that no longer interest them, is key to maintaining trust and customer loyalty.

In addition, financial institutions need to improve their management of inbound communications. More and more, customers want the ability to send electronic communications but find that their banks do not allow this. Banks need to invest in systems to automate the processing of customer-provided electronic documents and management of unstructured data.

As far as customers are concerned, there are no differences among business units within an institution, and they do not understand why the communications cannot be the same across the board. They don't know or care about channels, lines of business, or systems and database challenges. Customers expect you to bring the same knowledge to each interaction that they have; the individual or system providing service should have access to relevant communications — statements, marketing offers, service requests and historical interactions — on a time-sensitive basis.

Banks Must Present a Familiar Face to Customers Across All Channels

By Avi Greenfield, Product Manager, HP Exstream (Palo Alto, Calif.)

In order for banks to produce and distribute targeted, relevant multichannel customer communications, they must have targeted data about their customers; create targeted marketing messages for the communication pieces; and prepare and test documents using customer communication tools and solutions.

The most difficult part of distributing multichannel customer communications is preparing content so that it can be presented in channel-appropriate ways. From a distribution standpoint, it is important for banks to have back-up secondary channels to deliver customer communications if the first channel does not work. For example, if an email delivery fails, banks should send a paper statement along with a failure notification and instructions on how customers should update their email addresses.

Consumers and mobile workers have the devices and comfort level to transact electronically. While it's clear that Generation Y and Millennial users have little attachment to paper-based communications, studies show that as Baby Boomers retire from the workforce and have more time on their hands, they also are becoming much more comfortable with web and mobile applications. Coupled with the increasing costs of postal delivery, it seems clear that banks will be under increasing pressure to support more on-demand, electronic delivery of regular communications, including statements, in addition to other vital communications, such as notices and correspondence.

In order to continue supporting the vital print channel in addition to the increasing variety of electronic channels in a consistent and appropriate way, it is critical that banks address their cultures and organizational structures. Many banks have a multitude of tools, teams and processes to address their communications objectives. This has been compounded by growth through acquisition and a project-based culture in which point solutions are acquired to meet the narrow needs of a department or line of business without considering the impact to the broader organization. This leads to redundant efforts and an inconsistent face to the customer. It is important that banks develop enterprise approaches and solutions for communications in order to improve the impact and consistency of communications across channels while reducing the cost and efforts required to support multiple disconnected teams and technologies.

Digital Communications Raise Customer Expectations

By Sanjeev Malaney, CEO, Capsilon (San Francisco)

The ability to manage documents electronically rather than through paper changes the service expectations of the various parties involved — as the medium of doing business changes, so do the expectations for response time and the quality of the response. Hand in hand with electronic document management comes the desire to do business electronically end to end.

Banks must consider not only back-office efficiencies, but how they're serving their customers in the front office, since expectations for faster response times have gone through the roof with mobile and other technologies. Document management initiatives often begin with the back-office desire to gain efficiencies, but sales managers at many banks often become more excited about gaining the ability to collaborate and communicate electronically with their customers and partners, rather than taking on the project simply as an initiative to become paperless.

There are several trends in document creation, output and delivery that banks should watch. One is the ability to create structured collaboration, which enables banks to connect collaboration and workflow systems. Think of it as collaborative workflow, enabling banks to work collaboratively both internally and across organizational boundaries. Banks need to have the ability to keep an audit trail, so if there is confusion or something goes wrong — in the case of fraud or a miscommunication, for instance — a deeper dive can be conducted to find out what happened and quickly resolve the issue.

This ability gives banks the tools to keep up with and stay ahead of regulatory requirements. But banks must really look at the big picture when considering going paperless and embrace this as an opportunity to serve customers better rather than just focus purely on maintaining regulatory compliance.


Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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