Sean Sim, Managing Director of Customer Centrics, believes that the only form of sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to deliver great customer experience, and at the heart of great customer experience is great communications.
With this belief, Australian consultancy Customer Centrics offers simplified, personalized, and digitized communications solutions to its customers, dramatically improving their customer experience and driving operational excellence. The company has developed a communications transformation framework to deliver upon that. “We’ve developed a proven methodology that delivers a complete communications capability uplift,” says Sim. The framework covers considerations for people, process, technology and governance.
Customer Centrics initiates its programmes with Discovery—an engagement to assess current capability maturity, the desired future state and why, revealing each client’s gaps, level of importance and urgency leading to a transformation roadmap. This process enables Customer Centrics to determine any programme’s scope, time, cost and benefits. “We developed the assessment model covering all critical data points and we can complete this stage at speed,” Sim says.
The actual transformation is then performed in two streams almost simultaneously—the creative and content stage, and the technical implementation of the communications into enterprise customer communication management (CCM) platforms. “Almost all of our engagements now include a strategic sourcing piece where the transformation includes a complete technology refresh.”
The Creative stage focusses on the language and template designs: the approach taken to improve customer experience by delivering personalized, digital customer experiences. This is complemented by an information architecture that is both operationally efficient and compliant.
“We have a five-pillar process that enables us to do this in a very structured manner,” says Sim.
Another outcome of this stage is template rationalization.
“Most organizations look at this as reducing template numbers only. Our approach is to reduce the number of templates by making one template to do the job of many. Typically we would deliver reductions of around 60 percent, but if the client operates a multi-brand, multi-product scenario this can rise well above 80 percent. This has the immediate effect of reducing the template implementation costs of a programme by the same amount in addition to reducing on-going communications operational costs by about 20 percent.
In a business environment where the customer is the product, you need to be able to personalize your communications to the individual level
In the Technical implementation stage, the company has an end-to-end capability. One of its unique differentiators is the detail they go into when developing the business and technical specifications of the templates themselves.
“In the new world of delivering personalized, channel of choice experiences,” says Sim, “it’s critical that the core tenets underpinning the transformation are carried through to the build. No ambiguity. Failing in this area means you just recreate what you had, but in more modern technology.” Customer Centrics is armed with a team of CCM technical experts that enable the company to deploy industry-leading CCM platforms such as Quadient Inspire, Smart Communications, and OpenText Exstream.
“Our clients openly acknowledge that we are leading both innovative thinking and delivery in this critical customer experience discipline,” stresses Sim. This statement was justified when Customer Centrics was called upon to consult to a major Australian Federal Government department on their communications transformation programme. Customer Centrics worked closely with the department’s project team defining the scope, priorities, language, design styles and project methodologies of the programme. Where the department had managed to deliver just one template in the previous year, Customer Centrics delivered 60 in just six months. In those six months, the consultancy rationalized more than three hundred templates for the department, simplifying and optimizing their communications.
“Many organizations have huge volumes of customer analytics data, but lack the ability to use it to personalize their communications,” says Sim. “In an environment where the customer is the product, we’ve developed a personalized approach where everything from a simple SMS to a complex life insurance policy is tailored to the individual.”
Even though the significance of customer communications to customer experience is growing, there is still a perception that these aspects are either non-critical, easy to perform in-house or something that a copywriter from an advertising agency can do.
In reality, communicating effectively using CCM systems across multiple brands and through multiple delivery channels is a complicated process that requires clever design, clear writing, and detailed technical specifications. To succeed, an organization needs to combine all of these aspects, and this is what Customer Centrics does. Currently, Customer Centrics is considering numerous possibilities such as artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and other customer-related disciplines that will drive increased value from the company's core work.