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    What to Look for in a CCM Vendor

    Managing customer experience at a time when consumer empowerment has never been higher, managing the often-complicated nature of internal information systems of input data, managing the never-ending dictates of government rule-making bodies… Undertaking an enterprise CCM program is tough for any business.


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    Faced with these intertangling challenges, companies need to either handle production themselves or outsource it to a third-party provider:

    • For those doing the work internally, they need a top-tier platform that manages pre-production tasks such as data processing, page composition, production-ready electronic and print output files, and change management. Such a provider, Neps as an example, needs to be well-versed in best practices and an expert in collaborative assistance.
    • For those outsourcing the entire production workflow, they will need both a pre-production and production provider to handle all stages within the CCM workflow.

    Whichever path they take, both need outside help. We’ll identify what to keep an eye on when partnering with a CCM third-party provider, regardless of production needs.


    The Best CCM Attributes

    While it’s important to assess the capabilities of a vendor, the complexities within CCM programs make them inherently risky. Look beyond just capabilities; examine their foundational attributes. It’s easy to overlook these attributes or convince yourself they don’t matter that much. More often than not, though, it’s these qualities that separate excellent providers from inferior ones.

    • Financial strength: Unlike the one-off, ad hoc nature of marketing communication, most CCM programs run continuously, and thus have archives and histories going back years, sometimes decades. It’s imperative a CCM services provider is well situated financially to be there for you several years down the road.
    • Compliance and legal expertise: Because CCM programs involve considerable liability from government policies and laws, a provider that has extensive experience with and legal support for writing Master Services Agreements and Statements of Work specific to the CCM industry should be a top priority. These documents form the risk management parameters that are critical to successful ongoing CCM programs.
    • Thought leadership: Now that the CCM industry is well into its digital transformation, it’s imperative you work with a CCM provider that stays on top of technology changes. Time and again, we see how changes coming from digital transformation bring significant efficiencies and cost savings to companies; delivering the newest digital advances in your CCM platform helps keep your business competitive.
    • Consultative practices: While the day-to-day operational challenges are the primary focus of a CCM service provider, it needs to be blended with long-term strategy and planning. Because enterprise CCM programs carry such large price tags and risk, the relationship between a company and its provider can’t be just transactional; it requires an equal dose of strategy and consultation.
    • Client support: Even when print production isn’t happening, online customer portals, data inputs, electronic delivery, and security systems are fully operational and require constant 24/7 attention. A top-tier CCM provider will provide a plan for off-hour coverage and alternative support measures without charging additional fees.

    The Must-Have CCM Capabilities

    neps blog graphics_vendorIn addition to the aforementioned attributes, a service provider’s capability in comparison to your business needs is essential in determining which one you’ll want to partner with.

    For companies undertaking internal print manufacturing services, their third-party service provider must handle the trickier steps of pre-production workflow. An external partner with superior capabilities is one that has:

    • A proven CCM platform: Given the intricacies and demands of pre-production, including data processing, page composition, and file output for multiple delivery channels, it’s essential the partner has a platform solution with a seamless integration and automation process.
    • A high level of self-service tools: While a top-tier CCM platform automates the pre-production workflow, you’ll still want to retain control. A top-tier platform will have self-service capabilities, allowing you to monitor the workflow in real-time, intervene as needed, approve composition, review reports, and maintain other functions.
    • Technical content management expertise: With a highly granular understanding of input data and its translating forms, CCM providers can identify how the output can be simplified and optimized. A provider can assess, for example, whether a collection of duplicated forms could be consolidated into fewer ones, and in many cases they can. Neps' Clear™ Optimize service does exactly that, and it has been proven to deliver efficiencies and reduced production costs for clients.
    • A long track record working specifically with CCM pre-production: As is the case with any partner providing software and technical services, a provider should have a long track record of success in order to better ensure yours, especially in areas involving high levels of risk like legal mandates and data security. Neps has focused on CCM pre-production solutions for nearly thirty years and has received industry recognition for its success, notably the Technology of Year 2020 from Xplor International.

    For companies without internal print manufacturing capability searching for a reliable third-party service provider, look for those that have:

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    • Omni-channel print & mail, email, SMS text delivery: As we discussed in our CCM Trends article, the delivery channels print & mail, email, and SMS text were at one time managed separately, often with their own data, design, and output teams. With the advent of more sophisticated page composition engines, however, it became possible to manage them from a single compositional source, giving way to the "omni-channel" approach. A top-tier CCM provided will be able to compose, produce, deliver, and report from an "omni" source across all channels.
    • Digital solutions for document search & viewing: Digital solutions closely related to CCM communications are oftentimes best delivered, or at least enhanced, by CCM providers. Some examples of these types of communications include electronic payment integration for invoices and statements (often called EBPP), and the archiving, searching, and presenting of electronic documents for consumers and call-centers.
    • Self-service capability: Just because a company uses a third-party partner to provide CCM services should not mean that that their access or control over their workflow is limited. Your provider should have online capabilities to enable oversight, including tools that allow reviewing and approving proofs, removing unwanted input records prior to production, adding ad hoc messages to an invoice or statements, and viewing electronic documents online.
    • Language translation and ADA communication services: We live in an era of heightened awareness surrounding racial- and disability-related equity issues. The services that cater to these issues are often implemented not solely for the benefits it provides to their customers, but also for legal compliance from government mandates. A client should not need to find an additional specialized partner to fulfill these services; they should be a standard part of any CCM workflow.
    • Business continuity: Many customer communication programs have mandated deadlines for delivery; for example, a change to contract terms may need to be mailed to a consumer within 48 hours of the change. The mandate doesn’t pause if there is an unexpected interruption to production. A top-tier CCM provider will have the continuity infrastructure in place to ensure service level agreements are met regardless of external circumstances.

    Neps not only checks the box on each of the attributes and capabilities discussed in this article, they excel: they are recognized as industry leaders for their cutting-edge solutions, their close, strategic relationships with their clients, and their commitment to the feedback needed to help their enterprise CCM programs succeed.

    The CCM service model is a dynamic one, changing alongside its competition and its consumers. What won’t change, though, is that Neps will continue to listen to its clients and provide the solutions that work for them.

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