A Digital-First CCM Approach: 5 Ways to Prepare for the Shift from Paper to Digital Communications

There are a variety of trends and economic factors that have influenced the ongoing digitization of customer communications management (CCM). Whether it’s enhanced sustainability awareness, shifts in consumer preferences, rising paper and postage costs, postal service delays, or lingering COVID-19 effects, one thing is clear: Paperless is the future.

The latest data and research provide further proof:

  • COVID-19 era pushes digital transformation ahead: The shift to adopt digital communications was further accelerated by the pandemic. Digital-first communications have become the standard for healthcare-related experiences moving forward.
  • Environmental responsibility: Increased awareness of environmental social governance (ESG) practices motivate consumers to choose companies that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and protecting natural resources.
  • Cutting costs: In addition to the clear environmental benefits, many business leaders are looking to reduce the heavy costs of their paper trails. In 2022, global paper manufacturers reported price increases and direct mail costs will continue to go up as evidenced by a recent USPS filing to increase pricing. Other major carriers will likely follow suit.
  • Consumer preferences: Increased exposure to digital communications and the demand for hyper-personalized, hyper-connected and seamless experiences drives the shift to paperless mediums and channels. Plus, Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) grew up with the internet and expects communication to be digital. Not only is mobile their device of choice, but they spend an average of four hours and 15 minutes on their devices every day.

So, what does all this mean for industries that rely on print for critical interactions such as onboarding, billing statements, visit summaries, health plan documentation, etc.? While print certainly isn’t dead and has a place within the customer journey, it’s important for companies to align channels and delivery formats with the needs of their audiences.

Preparing for the evolution: Your top to-dos

Leading healthcare organizations are already going all in on digital CCM experiences. As we’ve reported in recent months, those opting for a digital-first, data-driven platform (e.g. O’Neil’s OneSuite) experience a host of internal and external benefits. These include decreasing administrative costs, fostering cross-functional collaboration, 24/7 access to digital content, and enhancing member or customer outcomes.

If your organization is undergoing a digital communication transformation, read the following tips to learn how to accomplish your objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible.

1. Gather your data

Healthcare companies often have various back-office systems containing customer information, including email addresses. Reviewing these data sources, consolidating them into one platform and ensuring you have gained proper permissions can help you identify new sources of leads primed for digital adoption.

If you don’t have email addresses or opt-in permissions, ensure that front-line salespeople, customer service staff, and other customer-facing team members are collecting them whenever possible. With new addresses, you can lead with digital-first or digital-only communications unless the customer raises any concerns.

2. Make the switch as seamless as possible

The top objective of communications digitalization is to make things easier, not harder; to make information readily available and accessible rather than late or complex. Thus, it’s important for any digital adoption campaign to make the switch from paper to digital as simple as possible. Step-by-step instructions and incentives can go a long way, as well as “going green” campaigns, contests, or giveaways.

Don’t forget that you’ll also need a communication strategy that helps customers understand the rigorous patient or member protection and data privacy requirements around your healthcare data, as well as how you’ll adhere to them within digital communications. Your customers will appreciate that you’re keeping their highly private information secure.

3. Prove the value

As soon as you get customers get comfortable with digital communication, you need to show them that these experiences are richer and more personal than paper can ever be. Instead of a generic subject line or introduction, include their first names and sprinkle in information that feels tailored to their needs. There’s nothing worse than getting a generic message.

4. Experiment with omnichannel

Even as digital adoption increases among your target audiences, don’t assume that e-mail is the only channel that customers care about. Consider running experiments or A/B testing across different channels, such as your member portal, mobile apps, SMS messaging, or video, to see which interactions garner the best response rates. The omnichannel capabilities of your CCM platform are critical.

Digital transformation requires a bit of trial and error, in addition to an understanding that what one audience or segment prefers may be different than the next one.

Again, it all goes back to understanding each customer’s unique needs.

5. Promote the self-serve experience

As leading healthcare organizations recognize the importance of respecting customers’ communications preferences, they are improving digital self-service in addition to implementing artificial intelligence, enhancing natural language processing, and automating important processes to provide a more effective, contactless customer experience.

Even internal employees who remain skeptical of digitization can be won over. With a holistic solution like OneSuite, each department can access the same information across all member/patient profiles. With this window into customers’ needs and preferences, they can identify lead conversion opportunities and provide a more seamless, customized experience.

Contact O’Neil As the leader in CCM/CXM technology, O’Neil can advise you on digital transformation solutions that align with your business strategies and priorities. Contact us for a free 15-minute consult or to preview our ONEsuite CCM platform.