Working in Harmony – Part 1

January 15, 2015
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In the first of two articles, Giles Hill, Managing Director of Sefas UK, looks at the challenges organisations face in meeting the needs of everyone who communicates with customers.

Customer communications may appear to be a single discipline. But as anyone working in a customer-centric environment knows, it is in fact multi-disciplined and multi-layered.

It’s a bit like an orchestra - and everyone has their part to play. But while there can be some dazzling individual musicians, unless they play together, in harmony, the whole customer communications process can sound - well, out of sync. Within the different parts of the process, there are essentially two key types of player – experts and business users. The latter may include marketers, sales and others who ‘own’ the content that needs to be communicated to customers, while the former will typically include specialist production and composition staff, who create the correspondence and push the communications out there. The challenge is, given these diverse players, how do you meet the needs of everyone who communicates with customers?


Different players

Each part of the customer communications process plays it part, so it’s worth examining them in detail and exploring how to achieve harmony and coherence.


  • Business Users

These can include a wide range of individuals in different departments within an
organisation, such as marketing, finance, legal, and so on. Typically their challenges

  • getting the message out across all channels
  • reflecting the brand accurately and consistently
  • ensuring compelling content that resonates with customers
  • having clear and consistent messaging
  • being able to make last-minute content changes without expert help (i.e. IT or production)
  • ensuring compliance and accuracy across all channels.

There are various ways that these users can meet these challenges, including being
able to:

  • send correspondence via email, text, social media or post easily and quickly -
  • without having to create multiple versions
  • access composition tools from the desktop or even a portable device
  • easily add, change or delete content
  • ensure that content can be checked for compliance and accuracy, right up to the point of production and distribution.


  • Customer Services Users

Call centre and help centre staff are at the ‘sharp end’ of the customer communications process. Typically their challenges include:

  • communicating effectively with customers via multiple channels (email, web,
  • telephone, post)
  • being able to add value by personalising customer correspondence
  • ensuring they have the latest version of correspondence (regardless of format or channel) to deal with customers quickly and effectively.

Solutions include:

  • creating relevant and effective interaction with customers
  • personalising correspondence with changes in the CRM
  • enabling easy and quick access to the latest version(s) of customer correspondence
  • ensuring that all customer correspondence is secure.


  • Remote Users

Typically these include sales reps, agents, field staff, and so on. Typically their
challenges include:

  • adding value to correspondence by personalising the content
  • being able to quickly respond to a customer’s change in circumstances
  • ensuring they have the latest version of correspondence, wherever they are located.

Solutions include:

  • allowing personalisation of documents, including letters, proposals, quotes,
  • orders, and so on
  • enabling quick response to customer queries, in the media of their choice
  • accessing templates remotely to construct customer-specific correspondence.


  • Office-based users

These can include anyone in an administrative or customer information role within an
office. Typically their challenges include:

  • ensuring that the latest template is available
  • personalising the content securely
  • ensuring that correspondence gets into the post or arrives in the mailbox in the most efficient and secure manner.

Solutions include:

  • rapid and easy access to templates
  • ensuring that brand and content are current and consistent
  • reducing the burden of manual intervention - less letter folding, envelope stuffing and franking
  • taking advantage of economies of scale
  • having accessto correspondence from a ‘hot desk’, from a remote office, from
  • an iPad, and so on.


  • Expert Users

These are customer communications experts who have been trained in advanced composition toolsets. Typically their challenges include:

  • designing effective documents quickly and easily
  • enabling documents to be shared across multiple channels
  • ensuring that others accessing the template don’t mess it up.

Solutions include:

  • providing a simplified GUI, reusing frequently used objects, and working with robust and durable templates
  • reducing scripting to enable changes to be managed at point of need
  • treating pre-composed sources in the same way as data sources
  • enabling delivery through multiple output formats – the media of the consumer’s choice
  • providing remote access by business users with authorisation and approval workflow


  • Production Staff

Typically based in print/mail centres, typically their challenges include:

  • adding production-specific marks to track, trace and provide process integrity
  • optimising hardware by fully utilising assets
  • making correspondence accessible across e-channels
  • enabling people to proof remotely to speed change control procedures
  • allowing last minute changes to be applied securely.

Solutions include:

  • making changes post-composition easier and quicker
  • allowing business users to move, add, change and delete components in a controlled environment
  • retaining existing hardware with a platform that can interface with all ADF tools
  • building e-channel routes - managed through the same secure and efficient ADF process steps
  • enabling remote proofing for business owners
  • giving controlled access rights to content to allow true on-demand capability.


‘Singing in Unison’

Ultimately, what enables all of these disparate departments and individuals to ‘sing in unison’ as part of a cohesive customer communications strategy is having the right enabling solutions in place.

In part 2 of this series, we will explore those solutions in more detail.

For more information visit www.sefas.com

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