By Jeff Mills, Vice President, EMEA, Messagepoint, Inc.
Banking today continues to undergo far-reaching changes due to the adoption of digital technologies, particularly when it comes to customer communications. Surveys show that for most customers, digital devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops have become the primary means of communicating with their bank, lender or financial advisor. While these technologies offer significant advantages in customer communications, such as the ability to deliver immediate responses or establish a two-way dialogue, they also present challenges to organisations seeking to provide a cohesive customer experience across all channels and platforms.
For banks, mortgage lenders, investment firms and other financial enterprises where establishing and nurturing a trusting and long-term relationship with clients is important, finely-tuned, interactive communication capabilities can be invaluable.Commonly in the adoption of digital communications platforms and technologies, however, the focus is on the technology and channel itself, with little attention being paid to the content.While Marshall McLuhan may have believed that “the message is the medium,” research has shown that it is the content and the message itself that has the power to influence a customer’s emotional reaction to a communication and build or destroy the loyalty that financial services firms rely on to add to their bottom line.
Centralise content management
Many large banks and financial institutions have volumes of content that have been created over the years but are unable to harness this in order to improve consistency and quality of customer communications. One key reason for this is that the content has been generated by different departments within these organisations and is stored in isolated silos. This also leads to a cycle of authoring and re-authoring the same content over and over again, wasting time and resources across an enterprise. The adoption of digital technologies has only exacerbated this issue, as content is now often created and stored, not only in departmental silos, but also now in technology silos, with print being separate from email, which is separate from chatbots, and so on.
For any organisation seeking to create a cohesive customer experience and digital experience, they need to turn their attention to how they manage the content that is the foundation of customer communications. Ideally,organisations should adopt a means of centrally managing the content and pushing out the communications from a central hub. Many organisations are looking to modern customer communications management (CCM) solutions that both support omnichannel communications and offer advanced content management capabilities to act as this hub. More advanced CCM solutions will also enable content sharing across communications so that you can centrally manage logos, content information, calls to action, legalese, product descriptions, etc. This not only makes it easy to create consistent omnichannel communications but it also greatly streamlines change management processes to rapidly increase time to market.
Optimise your content
As organisations look at centralisation though, a key barrier is the overwhelming idea of sifting through an enormous volume of legacy content that exists. Often the content has not been maintained over the years and while some of it is relevant, someone needs to sort through what is still relevant, up to date and useful. This is no small task for most.
The first step is to understand what you already have in those silos. Reaching a clear understanding of that content and migrating it into a modern environment will make managing and utilising it across channels more manageable.We recommend organisations begin by analysing the content to eliminate outdated information, identify inconsistencies in messaging, branding and formatting; and identify duplicate content and similar information. It is critical that content authors and experts from your internal departments participate in reviewing the results of the analysis and lead the cleanup effort to ensure consistency across the enterprise, clearly define brand and messaging standards, and align the content to the standards. While you can execute this step manually, it can take months of hard labour to sort through the content. It is far more efficient and cost-effective to utilise purpose-built content analytics tools.
Another consideration is reviewing your content to ensure it is clear and concise, and whether it’s appropriate for the various channels for which it needs to be used. Many aspects of your content can be shared across print and various digital channels and this helps to create consistency in your customer experience. That said, it is key that your teams examine and re-think other aspects of the content to create channel specific versions. When examining the content, you should also ensure it is written in plain language. Consider whether you are using legal jargon or technical terms that need to be defined?. Is it concise?Are you sending the right message,the right sentiment and does it resonate with your audience in the way you want it to?
Intelligently manage your content
Once your content has been updated and is ready to be centrally managed in a hub, consider even more advanced ways to intelligently manage your content and customer communications to avoid simply duplicating past activities.One key strategy is to deploy a parent/child type communications touchpoint structure in which multiple communications share and are built from a single common template. For instance, you may have a library of 90 written and approved customer-servicing emails which share a common base structure. Typical approaches would have you manage those emails as separate templates and communications. Instead, by creating one “parent” template that can pass down its core structure, format and key pieces of content to 89 “children” that each contains its own unique content you can greatly streamline change management and the creation of new communications. This type of content management also supports the overall goal of creating a consistent customer experience.
As banking and financial services migrate increasingly to the use of digital technologies, simply keeping up with the competition is a significant concern. Customer convenience and satisfaction has become critical to remaining in the game and differentiating your organisation from others.By focusing time and attention on your content and not just the technologies used to deliver your messages, you can ensure successful digital transformations and the consistency that is essential to driving substantial increases in customer trust, loyalty and revenue for your financial institution.