Delivering Multichannel Customer Communications without Replacing Legacy Systems

By Steve Francis, President and General Manager, North America, GMC Software Technology

Feb. 28, 2013 – There has been a great deal of industry information about repurposing outputs from antiquated legacy applications in an effort to deliver modern customer communications management (CCM) over the years. However, there is too often little understanding of how best to approach it.

It is news to no one that insurance customers are changing how they want to communicate with their providers. Customers, sophisticated shoppers that they are today, are simply demanding more and more from a provider. More often than not, they will initiate the demand for that information – not just passively receive communications sent to them.

Repurpose – don’t reinvent

Insurance companies are looking for cost-effective, efficient ways to address this growing source of emerging power. The multiple channels of communication that are popular today weren’t even in existence 20 years ago when many legacy applications were developed. So part of meeting this communication challenge means examining legacy core system outputs and how they can be repurposed in order to deliver highly personalized communications through print, online, mobile, email and social media.

One response is implementing a customer communications management (CCM) strategy to utilize existing data and content resources in new and dynamic ways. Building and implementing an effective CCM strategy requires pulling relevant information from many of the organization’s disparate silos and repurposing it to flow through the different communication channels. Additionally, repurposing creates a flexible multichannel communications service that can enhance communications by adding content like full color advertising and logos and barcodes – to personalize, and deliver through any channel at any time.

Developing the CCM solution

For many insurance organizations, this will require working with multiple, isolated legacy applications and systems, and may involve the parallel development and management of multichannel communication applications in order to unlock data from obsolete print-centric software. Without a doubt, this can be a costly and disruptive undertaking.

Rather than moving forward with such a complex process, insurance organizations may want to take the holistic, evolutionary approach that circumvents the need to rebuild data structures, content and business logic, while recognizing and exploiting the value that exists in their current environment and legacy systems. This is achieved by designing a CCM solution with an open, integrated architecture that makes it easy to access all relevant information and pool the data contained in legacy and siloed front and back office applications, systems and workflows.

As part of this CCM strategy, insurance organizations will need the ability to mine their numerous data sources, which can include CRM, ERP, SAP, ECM and Web-based XML data. Combining the information you already have about customer preferences, life stage and previous transactions, provides a rich, multi-dimensional view of each customer that makes it possible to produce more relevant and finely targeted messaging and delivery of customer communications.

An insurance case study

A good example is an experience a global insurance carrier offering life and personal accident insurance went through recently. The company acquired a competing life insurance company. However, with the acquisition also came the challenge of integrating and rebranding its customer communications to ensure the newly acquired entity properly reflected the global company’s corporate identity and customer-centric approach.

The new company’s customer data was stored in multiple legacy systems in disparate corporate business areas. Generating documents using this data required manual processing by IT personnel as well as relying on support from several third-party vendors. Additionally, each line of business utilized a different process. All of these factors presented a challenge.

To achieve the brand consistency and effective customer communications and legacy modernization it desired, the global insurance company decided to look beyond the rebranding effort and turn the project into a more comprehensive and strategic CCM program.

Six weeks later, the result is a fully automated, end-to-end system for customer communications management, including:

  • Full rebranding of all customer communications
  • Significant cost reduction and faster turnaround
  • One solution for all communications and standardized processes across suppliers
  • More business user involvement, less reliance on IT
  • Control over value-adding activities and outsourcing the non-value-add, such as printing
  • No risk to existing core processes and systems
  • Broad scope for multichannel communications such as email, SMS and social media
  • Increased flexibility to easily change printing vendor if necessary
  • New and future changes can be achieved quickly, easily and at low cost

Reaping the ROI

Insurance companies that have embraced customer communication management have seen their investment pay for itself quickly. Repurposing outputs for more rapid and targeted customer communication offers benefits not just in small isolated areas of the company, but across multiple departments as well.

Those companies looking to improve communications cite their top three goals as:

  1. Improved customer service with more rapid and targeted communications
  2. Lowered costs through increased automation
  3. Improved quality and accessibility of customer data for cross-channel and department-initiated processes

In today’s difficult and highly competitive business environment, you must respond quickly to the market with personalized and relevant messaging that grabs and holds each customer’s attention. Taking the appropriate steps to allow for repurposing existing data and content helps streamline the customer communications workflow, as well as enables effective outreach to customers with information they want through the channels they prefer.

About the Author

Steve Francis is president and general manager, North America for GMC Software Technology, the provider of GMC Inspire, an award winning multichannel document output for customer communication management.

About GMC Software Technology

GMC Software Technology delivers the most effective solutions in the field of Customer Communications Management (CCM). With unrivalled experience in the industry, GMC has consistently demonstrated the ability to help businesses increase customer engagement across all touchpoints. The company’s CCM platform, GMC Inspire, enables enterprises to deliver relevant communications, at the right time, through the preferred channel for every customer – driving customer loyalty, acquisition and operational efficiency. For more information visit

Source: GMC Software Technology