By Wayne Toms, CEO at GhostDraft
Businesses that rely on communicating to thousands of customers, often at the same time, have had to make use of document automation in one form or another. Insurers, banks, medical schemes, conveyancers, among others, have some kind of system in place to generate thousands of customer communications in the shape of policies, policy updates, wills, benefit statements, and much more.
However, the world is not the same as it was just five years ago, never mind a decade ago. Customers have changed. Everyone not only has a smartphone, and they are increasingly using it as their primary means of shopping and doing their business. As such, they expect more from their insurers, banks, medical schemes, and others. They don’t want friction and they want their contracts, claims, policies, benefits and all other correspondence to be quick, clear, personalised and even interactive.
In other words, customers have outgrown classic document automation.
To remain relevant and competitive, businesses have realised that digital transformation is core to their business’s prospects. They appreciate that they must build exceptional customer experiences that drive growth and retention, and they must actively pursue cost reduction and operational efficiency. To achieve this, they simply must change their business systems and optimise their people and processes.
The problem, though, is that legacy systems and the processes they support are very much hardwired into the very DNA of many businesses. And so, it’s not for a lack of appetite that organisations do not update their customer communication, but out of the perceived monumental task of baking new technologies into their legacy back-end systems.
However, unlike something as specific as legacy document automation, the concept of customer communication management (CCM) has evolved into its own rapidly growing IT services subset. CCM affords businesses the ability to keep up with customers and gain a competitive edge by entirely redefining speed to market best practice.
By way of example, research in the insurance industry has found that it takes insurers an average of eight months to bring simple new insurance products to market, and about four months to introduce modified products. As anyone in the industry would attest, much of this time is spent testing and retesting as the product is coded into insurer systems. It’s unfortunate, because these products can be brought to market quicker than ever imagined.
This isn’t just theoretical, it is proven. A local bank that uses GhostDraft received an instruction to update terms in one of its products. A process that should have taken weeks was finalised, deployed and live in a few hours. That’s the power of CCM done well.
Just how has technology evolved to this point? A modern CCM platform such as GhostDraft does not need to replace or be molded into the code of back-end systems. APIs create a separation layer, allowing the platform to have a light footprint in the organisation – It can communicate with any system and live alongside legacy systems. Another fundamental shift is that low-code and no-code design means that IT is not the driver and business users can implement changes themselves, while the processes are automated.
While digital transformation is notoriously complex and expensive, doing nothing costs even more. However, to mitigate the complexity and cost, businesses would do well to disaggregate the journey into a series of manageable initiatives. This enables them to deliver benefit and value to their customers quicker, while at the same time building out a flexible set of systems that can be used in the future to adapt to both customer and business needs.
Rather than reengineering or radically altering core systems, it’s important to appreciate that existing CCM platforms such as GhostDraft have been specifically designed to understand and work with other systems.
What should businesses look for in a CCM platform?
Customer-facing solutions that provide a personalised interface, usually through a browser or app, to guide customers on a simplified interaction journey. They should present and collect information, and they must have the ability to support online delivery of documents as well as live interactions.
Similarly, employee-facing solutions that enable business users with an easy to use interface that reduces touches, increases team collaboration and speeds up business activities. Platforms such as GhostDraft have the ability to automate the process of converting building templates and deploying them for immediate use.
Content solutions that are delivered to customers in a way that is personalised for their specific needs. The content is online-enabled and often includes multimedia, with live links to other useful content and may even include interactivity options. Being data-rich, it can deliver personalised experiences as well as collect important information to assist with future decision-making.
And lastly, a good CCM will be designed so that everything we’ve just discussed can work with the business back-end through a simplified integration layer. It needs to be API-open to enable this easy communication, cloud-based for ease, speed and scalability, and all of this must be possible with little or no code needing to be written. CCM has shifted the customer communication paradigm from document automation to an intelligent, dynamic suite of solutions.