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OpenText Exstream, Digital Transformation and Customer Communications Management

An Interview with OpenText Exstream, Senior Manager of Product Strategy
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

Last year Open Text Corp. acquired certain customer-communications management assets from HP Inc., an acquisition that certainly expanded and complemented the OpenText portfolio of software offerings.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to catch up with Avi Greenfield, EDP – Senior Manager of Product Strategy, to discuss his views about digital transformation and Customer Communications from an OpenText Exstream point of view.

Avi, a 20 year industry veteran, is focused on technology solutions that build business value, focusing on customer communications and content management strategy. As I mentioned he is a Senior Manager of Product Strategy for OpenText Exstream, responsible for understanding the needs of customers for managing business-critical communications in complex and demanding environments, and driving the direction of the Exstream portfolio to meet those needs.

Avi received his Electronic Document Professional (EDP) certification in 2012.


Skip: Avi, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts today.

Avi: You are welcome; we appreciate Xplor allowing us the opportunity.

Skip: For our readers who are not familiar with OpenText Exstream, can you give us your 15 second   elevator pitch?

Avi: OpenText Exstream offers the fastest, most reliable communications production engine to enable

digital transformation for companies. Exstream helps companies in a range of industries and sizes optimize customer engagement through the design and delivery of personalized, consistent, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications for better customer experiences across all channels. The latest version includes capabilities that enable users to create responsive, mobile-ready content; generate robust, interactive charts; perform controlled in-context editing; and better handle PDFs.

Skip: There is a lot in the media now about “digital transformation” and “digital business/digital economy” – what does that mean to OpenText and why is it important? 

Avi:  With 50% of the workforce expected to be made up of those who were “born digital” by 2020, digital communications are becoming more and more important and many companies are looking to move to a digital business model. A recent Gartner report states that 89% of companies will compete on customer experience and 90% of CEOs place CX as one of their top three priorities, so companies will need to be able to provide exceptional customer experiences across multiple channels to stay competitive in the future.

The Millennial generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and they have more than one trillion dollars in purchasing power. Companies need to adapt their customer communications to appeal to this highly digital and technologically advanced group. Digital transformation of your business will be critical and is much more than being able to send email or PDFs because these consumers want much more engaging experiences and access to their brands 24/7. They have the highest adoption and usage of mobile devices of any generation, and they navigate seamlessly between devices and channels, which means they expect relevant and consistent content, experiences and branding across all channels.

Skip: What is the impact of digital transformation on CCM?

Avi:  We see it driving a lot of demand for modern CCM capabilities. Digital transformation means rethinking business processes to meet consumer demand for frictionless multichannel interactions. This frequently means updating or replacing core systems of record and systems and engagement like CRM, billing, customer care, and claims for example. Most organizations already have multiple systems that are used to produce and deliver traditional and digital communications. So when they update those core systems, it’s a great time to consider whether their current CCM tools and processes are able to serve all of their enterprise needs for engaging customers in a way puts them at the center and gives them the freedom to engage using the channels and devices of their choice. We see this leading to increased investment in enterprise-grade CCM tools and also increased focus and organizational resources dedicated to producing and delivering timely, relevant, compliant communications.

Skip: Given these changes, and a shift to digital documents and communications, what steps can people take right now to take advantage of this?

Avi: In the digital age, it is critical for your company to move from traditional paper-based documents to engaging conversations across all channels. By delivering communications in the channels preferred by your customers and designing with digital in mind, you can turn your communications into a differentiator.

Your communications should use clear and concise language and be compliant, accurate, and controlled. All this requires synchronizing the right data with CCM software and the business processes that intersect with customer touchpoints.

Communications—whether traditional or digital—are the primary customer touchpoint for most organizations. The quality, timeliness, and accuracy of those communications have a huge impact on the consumer’s perception of your company. And the quality of a customer’s experience is the single greatest predictor of whether they will return and promote your company or defect to a competitor and malign it.

The design of any communication is important and can either drive desired behaviors, additional revenue or loyalty if done well. If not, it can undermine customer experience and create expensive call center inquiries. As far as best practices, five key things to consider when designing any communication are:

  1. Design for understanding – What do you want recipients to understand?
  2. Design to drive action – What do you want recipients to do or not do?
  3. Design for digital first, but don’t neglect traditional channels – Do recipients have a seamless cross-channel experience?
  4. Design to align business user profile with the business process – How do you involve business users? Do they own content and messages? Can they help personalize communications for the front office?
  5. Design customer-centric communications from the outside-in – What do you do to modernize your processes and systems of interaction to deliver on consumer expectations for seamless cross-channel interactions?

Skip: Those are five great points. Do you believe the investment in CCM worth it?

Avi: Not only is it worth it, but it is essential to positive business outcomes. Providing a better customer experience is shown to increase loyalty and lifetime customer value and can be a key source of competitive differentiation. Delivering interactions that are clear, timely, and easy to understand leads to higher customer satisfaction.

So there are many pressures and expectations on customer communications. Companies must respond quickly to changing markets and circumstances, while providing consistent, high-quality communications in the recipient’s language and preferred delivery channel.

There is also a critical need to maintain compliance and control over communications for legal and regulatory reasons. At the same time, business users are demanding more control over the content and faster time to market. And of course operational requirements demand timely, optimized output at the lowest possible cost. So having an enterprise CCM platform with the right organizational commitment and resources dedicated to it is essential to increasing profitability, improving customer experience, and mitigating risk.

Skip: Avi, I once again thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and sharing your insights. Anyone who would like more information can contact OpenText here.

About OpenText Exstream
Exstream is a multichannel customer communication management (CCM) solution that is proven to improve the customer experience and make customer interactions more profitable. It allows business users to create the communications for connected customer journeys using the delivery formats and channels customers prefer – including email, web and mobile.

This software solution powers the transformation of all of your data—whatever file sources, formats, and systems you use—into relevant and insightful customer communications. With on-premise and cloud deployment options, Exstream is scalable to fit the needs of any department or complex enterprise environment. Design and deliver consistent, personalized, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications with Exstream.


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Why is it so difficult to switch to digital?

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
July 20, 2016

According to IDC, a market research firm, by the end of 2017, two-thirds of the 2000 largest companies (ranked by Forbes magazine) will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy. Most already see digital transformation as a must. Moreover, 55% of those organizations feel the urgency to act within the year, at the risk of falling behind their competitors.

However, few of them have already completed the conversion. In fact, some have hardly begun.

That’s because switching to digital is no easy task, and here are the three main reasons.

Lack of flexibility in terms of communication
You have to be responsive in your communications in order to keep your customers. And to be responsive, you need to be able to easily and quickly change the documents you send them, based on their purchase history, geographic area, or even your current marketing campaigns.

You also need to be able to send those same documents digitally (email, web portal, EDI transactions, etc.)

Nonetheless, InfoTrends estimates that it takes an average of three months to make small changes to document templates, and twice as long (seven months!) to make major changes. Some examples of small changes to document templates include updating a company’s logo or a signature, or changing small segments of a text or paragraph. Major changes include completely re-doing the template, including the style, messages and branding.

An aging architecture
Do you sometimes feel trapped by your rigid systems that never seem suited to your organization’s changing needs?

Older systems rarely provide interactive or digital features, because they were designed long before the Internet played such a huge role in business.

For example, the inflexibility of many ERP systems complicates and slows down document updating processes. ERP systems don’t allow you to take into account the new trends in managing customer communications (modern graphics, Internet and HTML use). It gets very costly to make changes directly and requires setting up long-term projects, involving the cooperation of several departments in an organization (IT, operations, and finance).

Managing data from a number of sources
Over the years, a company puts many systems in place to meet the business needs of its various departments. The company ends up with several systems from different eras that often don’t interact well with one another. It would be quite costly to replace all of them for the purposes of data exchange.

Workers have often get into the habit of directly printing documents from each system to collect the information they need. What a waste of time and money when it would have been easier if the systems exchanged data automatically.

Not only do you need a middleware system that allows you to bridge the gap between your systems and retrieve the data you need, but you’ll also want to easily convert and standardize the data moving between systems, if necessary.


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

Going Digital at Your Own Pace

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
May 25, 2016

Going digital: everybody’s talking about it. For some people, it’s a no-brainer and has been reality for a number of years. Others are still struggling to digitize their business procedures. Any way you look at it, the future is digital. But making the switch is complicated.

In a perfect world, you would always send documents by email or publish them to the web. Not only would you be more efficient, you would save money.

Yet, most of organizations still do not send electronic invoices, even in simple PDF format! Customers are still requesting paper invoices and the employees are used to handling documents as they always have. Often, organizations do not have all of their customers’ email addresses. Small- and medium-size enterprises (SME) that began operations prior to the advent of digital, for the most part continue to use paper. Large businesses can afford to develop custom solutions and withstand the risk. SMEs that start up today put digital solutions in place from the get-go. But for medium-size enterprises that have been in business for a number of years, the risk is too great of placing the billing process at a disadvantage or weakening their finances by changing their procedures too abruptly. They lack the means to throw themselves into costly development projects and do not have the in-house resources to modify the systems in place.

Is your organization experiencing these problems?

There is, however, a way to remedy this situation without generating astronomical costs and up-ending your current procedures. Digitize your in-house procedures first. The transition will be smoother when you are ready to communicate electronically with your customers.

Here are some first steps that will make it easier for you to go digital.

  1. Set up an automatic digitization process for archiving your communications with your customers, such as invoices and other documents. Using a middleware system, you collect customer communications to digitize them and make them available as needed. This means that you are keeping electronic copies of all your records, even if you still do not send them to the customers.
  2. Have customer service employees routinely ask customers for their email address when speaking to them on the phone.
  3. Archive these documents in an .XML file and generate PDFs solely upon request for a copy. This takes up less space on your servers.
  4. Start by always sending PDF copies of current accounts in addition to the paper copy requested by the client. You won’t be abandoning paper right away but you will be starting a smooth transition.
  5. Once you’re more comfortable with the digital format in-house and your clients are used to receiving a PDF copy, it will be time to format your invoices so that they can be sent directly in an HTML email.

The right solution adapts to the processes you already have in place and does not require changing everything. Be careful with anything promising drastic changes; you need a solution that will adapt itself to what you already have.


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.