Once upon a time, there was a thing called output management...

Once upon a time, there was a thing called output management…

The death of a hero—classic output management has become a thing of the past

“Many people may find the statement ‘classic output management is dead’ provocative, but we stand by this statement because, after all, it included:

  • the rendering of documents (optical processing of data for the purpose of human readability)
  • post-processing of the documents (sorting/merging/splitting so that they make sense)
  • insertion of the documents into envelopes (postal processing of bulk mailshots)
  • franking of the mailshots (including their optimization for the purpose of cost reduction)
  • output of the documents to diverse printers
  • transmission of the documents to other channels (e.g. to the classic archive)
  • quality assurance in relation to the content & delivery of the documents produced (e.g. by means of regular testing—are they arriving at their destination & do they have the correct content?)

As you can see, we have already focused on two words:  classic DOCUMENT and classic ARCHIVE.

It has been a long time since customer communication was focused on documents, though. Some have been expanded and some have been completely replaced by the new eChannel solutions, ranging from email to Facebook Messenger messages. On the one hand, this took place because the volatility of the market required it and customers have become more demanding about how they would like to receive their specific solutions and information. On the other hand, it took place because companies meanwhile regularly consider which communication formats match their image. The objective of BECOMING SMARTER spurs us all on, after all it is not only a recipe for cost saving but in addition an important marketing tool.

So, with the old document-focused approach, we would quickly run into difficulty. After all, documents are always tied to rules and format templates that are no longer permitted in the new media—for example, nobody needs a letterhead in a Facebook message. So should modern output management not be able to take action without being constrained by these? That means, comply with the rules when necessary and ignore them when compliance is obsolete.

It’s time for a new all-encompassing approach

Customer communication within the company is always based on the following three points, which are mutually influencing:

  1. Communication medium

    In this case the following questions are posed:

    • How do I communicate with my customers and via which channels?
    • How innovative & SMART do I need to be to do this?
    • Which traditional customer requirements do I still have to be able to deal with?

    From this it can then be concluded which new and traditional communication formats have to be jointly integrated into the company.

  2.  Corporate processes

    In this case the following questions are posed:

    • Who are the people who actually communicate with the customer?
    • …and when do they do it?

    From this it can then be concluded who in the company, when and in what way they require access to the messages sent to customers.

  3. Architecture of the IT system landscape

    Ultimately, an IT system is required that will actually make all of this possible. However, the systems become more complex, if they are also supposed to meet the traditional and modern requirements at the same time. 

To sum up, then:

When we have information sent to customers in different formats and different ways, do our IT systems enable us to do it all smoothly? Now, at the latest, it becomes clear that we are talking about more than just classic output management.

What we have not yet taken into consideration sufficiently, though, is the customer experience in the whole process and the complexity of all these information flows (internal and external).

The new hero: Business communication management

Business communication management is our new hero because, in addition to the actual information we want to communicate, it also takes into consideration the customer experience and the paths covered by our information.

So it can do much more than classic output management and it is an all-encompassing communication strategy that affects the entire company. In summary, it can be said that it consists of the following 3 sections:

  1. Modern output management

    On the basis of the classic variant, modern output management also has to integrate the new eChannel formats—in addition to the traditional communication formats—and optionally enable switching back and forth between them without causing a lot of work and huge costs.

  2. Information workflows

    In this case the different paths that information takes via the various channels to the customer are finally taken into consideration. For all channels, comprehensible and standardized paths are defined that should be transparent and adaptable. These workflows not only take into consideration who receives what information and when (i.e. externally) but also who has access to it previously and when (internally).

  3. Customer Experience

    Finally, the well-being of our customers also has to be integrated into the whole procedure. After all, they want to have individual solutions that are exactly tailored to their needs—nobody wants to feel like just 1 among 10,000 others.

… and now you know why we are able to say with absolute confidence:

‘Classic output management is dead, because the future of corporate communication lies with business communication management!’

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by Markus Gruber written on 20. September 2021