What to Do If Your Customer Communications Vendor Partner Fails You

Inflation, supply chain issues, and the lack of human resources are driving countless brands to skyrocket fees or change their contract structures. Add to these challenges the recent rash of data breaches, and you’re likely questioning whether your customer communications partner is the best fit for your organization.

If your current customer communications partner is raising rates, breaking contracts, experiencing data breaches, or is unable to meet your needs, it may be time for a change.

Once you’ve come to terms with the decision to switch vendor partners, it’s time to identify a cost-effective solution that fits your specific business goals. Equally important is finding a partner who can customize and scale their solutions should your needs change or if the marketplace shifts.

While determining your next CCM / CXM partner may sound like an intimidating process, we’re here to take some stress off your plate. Here’s a helpful checklist with some practical tips for selecting the right partner for your business.

7 things to consider when selecting a new CCM / CXM partner

Tip #1: Focus on YOUR needs first  

Don’t lose sight of your own needs. It’s easy to get caught up in evaluating vendors and trying on different functionality instead of concentrating on the specific objectives and priorities of your organization.

Before you engage new vendors, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the most inefficient processes in our business and what do we want to improve with a CCM / CXM system?
  2. What communications workflows do we lack and desperately need?
  3. What would we like to better understand about our prospects and customers?
  4. Who in our company is going to use the platform? How many users do we need?
  5. What other software needs to be integrated with the new system?
  6. What is our budget?

Tip #2: Determine your must-have features and functions 

Your CCM / CXM platform needs to deliver features and functionality that help you reach your organizational goals. If you’re not sure what your exact needs are, our friends at Madison Advisors, who specialize in offering independent market research and analysis of the print and electronic CCM marketplace, shared a list of the seven critical components of a CCM solution. They include:

Data management and processingThe collection, aggregation, standardization, and storage of data in a standard data model from a variety of sources, including core processing systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and external third-party sources.
Content managementA centralized repository that stores all the components necessary for the document composition process, including templates, business rules and variable text and digital assets such as logos and other images.
Customer profile and preferences managementCollection and management of customer profile information, delivery channel preferences, and customer consent for electronic interactions. This data is used to optimize the composition process to generate the output according to a customer’s predetermined delivery preferences.
CompositionThe process that combines data and variable content with document templates according to pre-determined business rules to create customer communications that are optimized for the delivery channel(s) based upon pre-determined delivery preferences selected by the recipient.
Omni-Channel Communications DeliveryDelivering communications in the appropriate format to a variety of channels, including print, email, web portal, mobile, tablet, SMS, outbound phone calls and social media.
ArchiveA repository to store all customer communications delivered for future retrieval and delivery to support customer service requirements and, to satisfy audit and regulatory requirements to show proof of what was delivered to customers.
Reporting toolsA user interface that provides users with full visibility into the entire communication workflow, including job status from point of file receipt through delivery. Standard and customizable reports should be made available through a reporting module and business intelligence tools are integrated to allow clients access to underlying data analytics.

Following their assessment of the O’Neil ONEsuite CCM / CXM platform, Madison Advisors concluded that it exceeded all seven of these critical components.

Tip #3: Engage vendors positioned to support short- to long-term success

In addition to making sure the platform fits the bill, it’s also important to vet the personality, values, and background of your prospective customer communications partner. Shopping based on features and function alone can lead you to partner with a vendor that might be difficult to work with, dishonors your contract or changes the terms of your agreement. These are common issues in the technology industry, leaving many businesses feeling slighted and skeptical.

You need a partner who can support your needs today, as well as in the future. You don’t want to find yourself in the same place a year or two from now.

Here are some questions to consider asking during your interview process:

  • What does onboarding look like for you?
  • What training and materials do you offer to help our team learn the platform?
  • Who can our team contact if we have questions or need support?
  • How often do you make updates to the system? What is your process for rolling out the changes?
  • How do you protect against data breaches or security issues?
  • Will our agreed-upon pricing structure remain the same? What circumstances would cause it to change?
  • Do you have any case studies that support your claims?
  • Can we speak to any of your current clients to understand their experience with you?

Tip #4: Verify platform integrations

This is one of the most important considerations when choosing a new CCM / CXM solution for your business. You’re not purchasing a CCM as yet another item in the collection of different work systems. You’re investing in it to help you streamline ALL of your business operations. That’s why it’s essential to ensure the platform integrates with other applications.

O’Neil ONEsuite is modular and flexible, allowing you to integrate it with other in-house platforms. It can also help you avoid spending millions on siloed software because it includes so many capabilities including Data Analytics, Preference Management, Composition, Content Management, Journey Orchestration, Campaign Management and Omni-Channel Delivery. It supports a broad range of uses across many business units.

Tip #5: Ensure configuration and training are available

A CCM / CXM solution does you zero good if it’s not properly configured. Further, it won’t help much if your staff lacks the proper training required to utilize all of its features.

So, when you’re considering the investment, make sure to ask how much it will cost to configure the solution to your needs and to personalize training sessions. Hopefully, they offer more than online tutorials.

A CCM / CXM system should complement your business and reflect your sales process, marketing strategy, and customer service activities. It’s important to choose a system that’s easy to configure. As for training, it is one of the most important factors of smooth platform adoption and implementation. It should be an ongoing, user-specific, and hands-on experience.

Tip #6: Look for industry-specific customization capabilities

Your industry is likely very specific. That’s why you need a CCM / CXM platform that’s used by companies and industries that are similar to yours.

By studying a vendor’s website, you can get a good idea of the types and sizes of companies they work with. You can also check third-party review sites, such as Madison Advisors or Aspire LeaderBoard, for reviews, references, scores, etc.

For instance, O’Neil’s ONEsuite platform caters its capabilities to the healthcare and finance industries. In healthcare, it helps organizations create and deliver communications such as ID cards, welcome/enrollment kids, compliance letters, provider directories and much more. For financial institutions, including banks, insurance firms, wealth managers, etc., ONEsuite allows you to generate policies, contracts, SOA’s, quarterly statements, welcome kits, and more.

A customized platform drives a better customer experience. Unfortunately, many CCM platform providers are ill-prepared to deliver the features and functions you need to improve communication and desired customer outcomes. You need a customer communications partner who knows your industry and can adapt its user interface to suit your most critical tasks.

Tip #7: Ask about security features

The effective storing and protection of customer data is more important than ever before. You need a platform with security measures that protects your valuable information from hackers or security breaches.

For example, if your customer wants to be removed from your database, you need to be able to honor their request and send a confirmation of deletion. Or, if your customer requests an electronic report of all data you store on them in your CCM platform, you’ll need to be able to generate that report for each customer individually.

O’Neil is here to help.

No doubt – CCM / CXM plays a critical role in any business’s success. It’s always a good idea to map out what your needs and requirements are along with your budget.

And, if you’ve recently felt slighted by your current customer communications partner, know that you have options! There are vendors who can check off all of the items on your must-haves wish list – and more.

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