By Sohail Malik
Producing compliant correspondence that also takes into account the customer experience can feel like an uphill climb, especially for heavily regulated verticals like healthcare, insurance, and financial services. Each year, consumers receive an estimated 50 billion pieces of correspondence, much of it mandated by federal and state regulations. Other regulations govern the content, format, and accessibility of customer communications, creating a complex maze of requirements that make producing user-friendly documents a challenge at best.
More often than not, regulations reflect consumer needs created by changing technology and evolving market conditions. When the United States Access Board announced that it will release updated 508 accessibility standards, a primary objective was to ensure that consumers can access content using mobile and Web-friendly technology. The decision reflected the reality that 60 percent of consumers now access digital media online using smartphones, tablets, and other mobile technology.
Staying on top of existing regulations while balancing corporate objectives to be customer-focused poses a significant businesses hurdle. When factoring in changing regulations, many businesses falter in their efforts to keep pace with new requirements and can easily regard these changing regulatory requirements as burdensome or overly restrictive. However, in the midst of this, companies may overlook is the opportunity that compliance provides to actually enhance customer experience. If you look at compliance as a response to consumer demand, businesses can turn mandates governing customer communications into an opportunity to use these required communications to generate user-friendly correspondence that is read and enhances the relationship with the recipient.
The Big Three
In order for businesses to turn mandates governing customer communications into an opportunity, companies need to overcome three challenges including inadequate technology, insufficient resources, and lack of expertise.
Lack of automation, decentralized assets and data management, and poor collaboration form the most common barriers to producing compliant, accessible correspondence. Gaps in technology can be costly, resulting in delayed time to market, impersonal communication, and limited delivery options. In addition, if companies don’t respond to regulatory updates in a timely manner, they risk non-compliance fines and penalties.
In many cases, companies want to upgrade technology, but lack the financial resources and personnel to do so. Legacy customer communications management (CCM) solutions can be expensive to install, maintain, and upgrade, and are slow to respond to regulatory changes, while in-house systems divert IT personnel from priority projects. Meanwhile, companies that rely on a patchwork of software solutions or manual processes may find it difficult to collaborate, because assets and personnel are segmented into departmental silos.
Industries and customers both suffer from lack of expertise. Many consumers are unaware of available resources to assist them in making informed decisions about essential products and services. Lack of expertise also compromises the ability of businesses to meet the needs of their consumers while complying with regulations governing format, layout, content, and accessibility.
Answer in the Cloud
To overcome these obstacles, companies must find affordable solutions that automate workflows and centralize assets in an integrated platform. The emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) into the CCM space solves many of the challenges associated with lack of automation, decentralized assets, and lack of resources. As such, SaaS CCM platforms represent an opportunity to generate compliant correspondence and enhance customer experience.
SaaS CCM platforms offer all the benefits of an integrated content library and automated workflows. Companies create, review, approve, produce, and deliver content from a single, integrated platform using role-based access permissions and a portal framework to ensure that only authorized users complete each phase of the content lifecycle. Solutions consultants can set up master templates to ensure that they comply with industry standards, while end users generate infinite variations from a single master application template. The agile nature of SaaS allows companies to respond quickly to regulatory and market changes.
Because SaaS solutions are delivered through the cloud, they don’t have the high upfront cost associated with legacy systems. Moreover, subscription model pricing allows companies to pay as they go, while scalability enables businesses to add or delete applications and services as needed. Businesses that don’t require an entire platform may soon have the option of purchasing document-specific application templates built by qualified solutions consultants.
SaaS also makes it possible for in-house personnel to focus on higher priority projects. Hosted solutions free IT departments from maintaining on premise systems, while intuitive Web-based interfaces allow non-technical business users to modify and update correspondence. If data security is a concern, companies have the option of retaining an industry-certified hosting provider to comply with HIPAA, GLBA, and other security requirements.
Automation and SaaS technology also facilitate consumer education by providing real time comparisons of competitive products and services and omnichannel delivery options. A broker working in financial services can generate correspondence on demand and educate customers about the benefits of different investment products as well as their consumer rights. Companies can also deliver correspondence to customers according to individual preferences.
By leveraging the power of automation and SaaS, industries can generate compliant correspondence that also enhances the consumer experience with easy to understand documents. The end result is a win-win situation for businesses and customers. SW
Sohail Malik is the business product manager for the healthcare vertical at Elixir Technologies. In his role, Malik is responsible for solution design and implementation for Elixir’s health insurer customers. Since joining Elixir in 2001, Malik has managed implementations for more than 40 plan insurers for applications that include ANOC, EOC, SBC, RxWrap, Formularies, Provider Directories, and Welcome Kits.
Sep2015, Software Magazine