Venture Resources

Customer Communication Management (CCM) Defined

Mark Lammers
by Mark Lammers

June 18, 2024

Although consumers see transactional communications every day, few people realize there is an established industry behind it. 

Customer Communication Management, often referred to as CCM, is the industry behind the curtains of the world’s most successful businesses, delivering both printed and electronic communication between a business and its customers. While marketing and sales communication uses advertising, direct mail, and social media platforms to promote and sell products, CCM focuses on the communications necessary for both the business and the customer, such as contracts, invoices, statements, notices, and letters. 

 

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How is CCM Different from Marketing Communication?

In recent years, the boundaries between the transactional communications and marketing programs within a company have been eroding. Marketing messaging, for example, can often be incorporated within transactional documents.  

However, there remain key differences between the two, in both function and format. 

  • While marketing enterprises often have specific start and end dates, transactional communications are run continually – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually – to keep the customer informed and responsive. 
  • As such, CCMs handle large amounts of sensitive personal data, classified as Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI). PIIs and PHIs can include information pertaining to loan foreclosures, past due payments, health statements, account balances, and contract obligations.  
  • CCMs rely heavily on this data to stay on top of critical transactions. Aggressive production deadlines are often 24-48 hours after input data arrives, to ensure communication between business and customer is informed and efficient. Conversely, marketing communications are built several months in advance. 
  • While marketing campaigns usually focus on marketing outputthe advertising product – businesses continually depend on CCMs to manage both incoming and outgoing transactions from the customer. This includes 100% fulfillment of all input records, post-production verification of mail/content sent, and business rule programming and testing. These processes involve frequent changes to document templates and content as technology, customer needs, and business goals continue to evolve over time.  

 

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Key CCM Workflow Steps


Key CCM Workflow Steps


Processing input data 
 

Most companies have a collection of internal information systems storing customer data, built up over decades of acquisition and expansion. 

Among the most challenging aspects of CCM manufacturing is processing this data, this wide variety of file formats and data types, to in turn produce communication output. A single customer communication piece may require data from two or more internal sources, and often needs to be managed and output within stringent deadlines. Other times, the input is a fully pre-composed PDF document instead of raw data, adding another layer of operational stress. 

Composing pages 

The processed input data is then used to compose the pages, in paper or electronic format, the customers will eventually consume.  

Key aspects of page composition include: 

  • Managing both raw and pre-composed data brought into the composition process and their corresponding templates 
  • Composing and proofing documents in a way that meets all requirements for the delivery services, including for USPS for mail, ISPs for email, and telecoms for SMS text 
  • Enacting programmatic changes to map how the variable input data is integrated into the static content template 
  • Creating the file of composed documents according to the requirements of the production and delivery  

Page output and delivery 

In the CCM industry, the primary delivery channels are print/mail, email, and SMS text; often, email and SMS channels are used in conjunction with online viewing, using portals or personalized URLs. These pages are composed for each channel from a single source and workflow – an “omni-channel” approach. 

In previous years, each channel had its own composition and workflow approach, creating a denser, more siloed approach. Omni-channel methods, however, have been proven to reduce costs and create efficiencies that better honor consumer delivery preferences. 

 

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Two Options for CCM Production

Companies take one of two approaches producing their CCM communication : either the document production is manufactured internally (the ‘in-plant’ option), or it is outsourced to a third-party provider.  

Not surprisingly, the in-plant option is used exclusively by large companies who have the excess capital resources to expend upon a production facility. Some companies with in-plant strategies have begun to look at third-party service providers for their print and electronic CCM needs, allowing them to better focus on and support their core business. 

 

 

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Government Oversight

Because CCM deals with sensitive topics such as payment denials, payments past due, contracts, financial statements, healthcare information, and foreclosures, there are considerable government regulations ensuring their security and compliance. Regulations concern issues like contract change communication deadlines; channel preferences management; the format, font, and size of documents; and language and accessibility requests.  

These regulations are established and enforced mainly by the federal government but can come from state governments. Each of the federal regulatory agencies have different compliance focuses, whether it’s equity markets, hospitals, retirement pensions, retirement accounts, or term disclosures. Key agencies include: 
  • CFPB – Consumer Finance Protection Board  
  • CMS – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid 
  • SEC – Securities Exchange Commission 
  • DOL – Department of Labor 
  • OCC – Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  
  • FTC – Federal Trade Commission

 

 

Government Oversight

Digital Transformation of CCM

CCM strategies continue to shift  from print media and toward digital delivery, though at an evolutionary pace rather than a total upheaval. There are several reasons why print & mail remain a prominent delivery channel amidst technology advances:

  • Regulatory mandates (particularly from the CFPB) require hard copy notices to be used for hallmark events such as a property foreclosure, loan default, or payment past due communications. Electronic communication is still used in this setting, but only in parallel with the required hard copy communication. 
  • Because most CCM communications contain PPI and/or PHI content, there are elevated concerns around the privacy and security aspects of electronic delivery
  • Consumers often want paper records for key documents such mortgage and escrow statements, health billing, and student loans; in fact, research shows that the majority of consumers want both electronic and paper versions of key financial and healthcare documents.

Although total digital transformation is happening at a much slower pace than one would want or expect, digital channels continue to gain ground in the CCM channel mix. 

 

 

Digital transformation of CCM

The Expertise to Run CCM Programs

To successfully navigate and manage these challenging CCM requirements and regulations, a broad variety of specialists is needed. Their expertises concern:  
  • Legal regulations and compliance 
  • Technology infrastructure, including security and business continuity 
  • Data input processing 
  • Page output composition 
  • Business rule gathering and requirements 
  • Change management infrastructure 
  • Service staff management for each industry vertical 
  • Self-service online tools 

The ever-growing range of expertise required to successfully manage enterprise programs has led some companies who had been running production internally to utilize third-party providers.

 

 

 

The Expertise to Run CCM Programs

Customer Communication Platform

Whether managed from an in-plant approach or external service provider, a top-tier CCM platform has gone from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. 

However, given tight compliance deadlines and complex pre-production steps, there is only one path to success: a CCM platform that vigilantly integrates, automates, and reports throughout the process.  

A successful CCM platform should, at the most basic level: 

  • Intake and process the many variations of input data from multiple information systems 
  • Compose and distribute documents for multiple delivery channels, including mail, electronic, and online viewing 
  • Prepare files specific to the manufacturing delivery process, whether it be a specific production print, electronic document, or an electronic archive used for online search/display solutions 
  • Provide real-time status information to both the business and the customers that the process is unfolding properly
  • Utilize self-service tools to quickly adjust documents as needed during data processing and page composition
  • Create an online interface and supporting functionality that allows the average user to manage changes between production runs

For more in depth information about CCM platforms, please read our blog, Discover The Benefits Of A CCM Platform

 

Customer Communication Platform

Ready to Implement a Customer Communication Management Strategy?

If it's time to implement a customer communication management strategy, we can help.  Venture Solutions offers comprehensive customer communications management options that drive digital transformation through omni-channel delivery, focusing on personalization, automation, and user experience.  

Our CCM solutions help organizations realize the benefits of omni-channel delivery, including reduced costs, improved customer experience, and greater operational efficiencies. Our omni-channel CCM solutions include:  

Venture NSite™: A unified technology platform that empowers your business to compose, edit, proof, and approve synchronized communications in real-time across multiple channels through one user-friendly interface. With role-based user access, simplified workflows, 24/7 visibility, iron-clad data storage, and secure deployment, it's a seamless CCM experience. 

Venture Access™: Our innovative self-service customer communication portal offers companies total transparency and control of their critical communications. Venture Access™ lets you see all your customer communications in one place, so you know exactly what's happening as it happens. From ad hoc custom messaging to fulfillment and delivery tracking, statement archives, and detailed reports, Venture Access™ makes it easier than ever to manage your customer communications. 

Venture Editor™: A user-friendly, self-service customer communication tool that centralizes the creation of omni-channel communications. Avoid the added costs of elaborate programming and composition software by streamlining processes through Venture Editor's™ sophisticated automated workflows.  

Clear Communications™: a professional service that creates positive customer experiences and maximizes ROI with every letter, statement, email, or text delivered. Because the effectiveness of any CCM communication hinges on clarity, Clear™ enhances message intelligibility and impact, thus increasing customer engagement. 

Clear Optimize™: an AI-driven tool that identifies shared content across document sets. Once identified, Venture Solutions evaluates them for two outcomes: either consolidating them into one common document or identifying ways to standardize on a common change. 

TransForm™: a solution that transforms your fillable forms process into one that increases user engagement and data useability and decreases operating costs. It transforms a one-directional interface that often requires manual processing into an intelligent interview-style interface with automated processing and integration points. 

Let's collaborate! Contact Venture Solutions today to enhance your customer communication management strategy.  

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