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John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on April 21st, 2014

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What Is "Interactive" DOCCM?

CLIENT LETTER | Interactive | Customer Communications | Technology

We've noticed some of our fellow DOCCM vendors and even a few analysts have been using the term "interactive" (with respect to customer communication management) to mean different things at different times.

To us, "interactive" has always meant "the ad-hoc process of creating personalized customer communications". An employee or customer interacts with a template to personalize it; selects the appropriate content and attachments; and sends it over the customer's preferred channel.

Forrester Research has historically distinguished "interactive" from "on-demand", in terms of document creation. We agree; to us, "on-demand" refers to a means of initiating document creation, such as using a web service API. That said; we can see an argument for "on-demand" applying whether or not customer communications are generated automatically, i.e., whether or not subsequent user input is required.

Further, we agree with Forrester that there's a distinction between "interactive" and "high-volume batch", as generating documents in a batch generally precludes user interaction.

Correspondence often requires quite a bit of user input, so we commonly refer to what our product CLIENT LETTER® does as "interactive customer communications management", as opposed to our INFORM® product (no longer offered for sale), which is used to design and generate structured communications, whether initiated on-demand or run in high-volume batch jobs.

interactive-CCM-user

Changing the meaning just creates confusion

We find the term "interactive" most often redefined by vendors who have traditionally served the structured (also called transactional) marketplace. These vendors have begun to use the term "interactive" to refer to the content in customer communications, rather than to the communications themselves.

You may have heard of "interactive statements". The term refers to structured documents that include dynamic content. The most frequently used example is a chart or graph in a statement, which the customer can click on to isolate the related data presented elsewhere in the communication.

We see this as a feature of customer communications, not a new type of customer communication.

We applaud the move toward making structured documents more visually appealing and useful to recipients; however, we disagree with bending the established definition of "interactive".

Frankly, with the increased adoption of electronic distribution channels and the need to engage customers, we expect most, if not all, customer communications will eventually include content with which the recipient is encouraged to interact. You can use our software to include dynamic content and encourage customer engagement, whether you are interactively creating customer correspondence in CLIENT LETTER or generating a batch of statements using INFORM. No change in definition required.

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