In customer communications, your business correspondence should ultimately improve the customer experience, providing content that engages the recipient in a consistent way. However, achieving this goal is often easier said than done.
It’s not surprising that many enterprises have lost track of the business correspondence inventory—all those pieces that have been created over time and what those pieces actually say. How to make sense of and maintain these large inventories of communications can be an overwhelming task. Part of the challenge is ensuring you’re reflecting and reinforcing your company’s brand while also ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
Many times, companies go through ideation phases where they dream up a new piece of correspondence and label it a “redesign.” That’s a loaded term; you need to go beyond applying a new coat of paint (the look and feel). Your “redesigned” communications should be meaningful, comprehensible, targeted and personalized, and that’s exponentially more difficult to achieve the larger your inventory.
Find the patterns
So, if it isn’t a traditional redesign that will fix this, what will? Rationalization. It starts with identifying what content you need that you can share and reuse in a consistent way. Set a course streamlining and reducing your correspondence content down to core chunks—for example, minimal sets of paragraphs that might make up a letter, or a set of letters, in such a way that they become your kernels in the system. These kernels are your foundation, the building blocks that you define once with a common voice and tone and deploy consistently to elicit the expected response you hope to get from the recipient.
In many cases, rationalization means taking a hard look at what we call “outlier bits of content,” things that might appear just once in 1,000 letters and asking, “Why did that paragraph only appear once? Was it really a situation where this company needed to say this at all? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no.
I am an engineer by training, so the concept of rationalizing content intrigues me, because it is really about applying the principles of pattern recognition. By finding meaningful patterns in content, you can reduce your communications inventory down to the minimum set of content “chunks” required to efficiently produce the correspondence in a way that meets the vision you have for a better customer experience. It’s about more than replication; think about it as revitalization. It’s about understanding your content puzzle pieces and having an intelligent way to assemble them to complete the communications picture. With rationalization in place, you can make communicating with customers easier—for them and for you.
(article originally published in Documentmedia.com)
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