Article

Inside Marketing: 3 Paths to Managing Member Communications

businessman stands facing way from viewer and considers three arrows pointing to different paths
By Gautam Jit Kanwar

4 minutes

Finding the right balance between IT, business user and managed service provider involvement is unique to each credit union.

As credit unions continue to work toward digital transformation and the need to provide an omnichannel member experience, many face the challenge of how to handle the complexity of producing and delivering communications through the member’s channel of choice. Business-critical communications have become increasingly complex, with members now asking to receive them not only by print or email, but also (or alternatively) via SMS text and mobile.

To stay competitive, credit unions are seeking ways to effectively manage member touchpoints across a variety of channels. However, automating the process with comprehensive customer communications management systems—software that often integrates with CRM (customer relationship management) systems—can be expensive and not completely self-managing. That means reaping the rewards and earning the return on a technology investment still requires knowledgeable and experienced personnel to operate the system effectively. For many small- to medium-sized credit unions, this is likely where the greatest challenge lies.

What is the best way to manage a CCM system and all the advantages automation brings to omnichannel member communications? There are three approaches to consider: instructional, empowered and partnered.

The Instructional Approach

The first option for managing member communications is termed “instructional” because this more traditional method relies heavily on technical specialists receiving frequent and detailed instruction from the contributors and owners of the communications. Envision here the marketing department relaying their requirements for a time-sensitive marketing campaign to IT personnel who may not have much background in document design or production, let alone in legal or marketing matters. This approach may be the least desirable of the three, due to the significant differences in skills and expertise across all those involved, making constant “back and forth” a permanent feature of the process. Furthermore, operating or developing a CCM system is not the primary responsibility of a busy credit union IT department.

The Empowered Approach

The empowered approach is a newer trend in customer communications management. Here, technical experts in IT still administer the CCM system; however, it lies behind a user interface that allows document contributors and owners to manage their own content. In other words, the CCM system empowers business users to participate directly, while keeping the most technically demanding tasks in the hands of IT personnel. Extending the content management layer out to business users while integrating with your IT operations and processes resolves knowledge gaps in terms of messaging and greatly reduces the back and forth of the instructional approach. However, while the empowered approach doesn’t necessarily occupy more of business users’ time, it does require them to learn some technical aspects of document management. The most positive outcome of the empowered approach is those closest to the members will have full control over their document content.

The Partnered Approach

The third option passes CCM ownership to an outside partner, a managed service provider. As CCM solutions are being more widely implemented in credit unions, an MSP specializing in CCM brings a understands and is able to support the needs of both IT and member-facing staff while relieving them from tasks that may be peripheral to their roles. Similar to the way a business might employ an MSP to set up and maintain a telephone or email system, a CCM MSP will deploy, develop, maintain and operate your CCM software to optimize its usage and help you harvest the full member experience benefits inherent in the platform, including improved member satisfaction and loyalty and more—perhaps easier—cross-selling efforts. The best MSP partners elicit information by asking the right questions to all involved in the creation and development of member communications and provide expert consultation to those internal departments on the path forward. Managed services can be viewed as an investment because as the partnership becomes more integrated over time, the benefits of the relationship increase.

In the end, the right approach to managing your member communications depends on factors that are unique to your organization. You have specific member communication needs today and goals for tomorrow. Whether you accomplish them within your IT department, with the addition of business user involvement or tap into the advantages of managed services, it is important that the choice you make results in lowering costs, improving the value and accelerating time-to-market for your member communications.

Gautam Jit Kanwar is president of BelWo Inc., a global provider of managed services specializing in customer communications management delivery solutions that help companies meet strategic CCM goals, add value to every customer communication, reduce costs and significantly improve the workflows of mission-critical CCM processes.

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