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Customer Experience and Customer Communications Management Glossary Blog Feature
John Zimmerer

By: John Zimmerer on August 5th, 2015

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Customer Experience and Customer Communications Management Glossary

Customer Experience | Customer Communications | Technology

(Updated September 18, 2017)  As in any industry, we in Customer Communications Management (CCM) use jargon and industry-specific terminology, sometimes forgetting that not everyone uses these terms on a daily basis like we do, or with the same meaning. So here’s a brief glossary for your reference.


administrator: A person whose job it is to control the use of something; in CCM, a person who has the authority to add users, define permissions, and create and edit templates that end users can only use and, if permitted, modify

analytics: Discovery of meaningful patterns of information in data; in CCM, analysis of data pertaining to the creation, distribution and, ideally, consumption of customer-facing communications across all relevant channels

API: Abbreviation for Application Programming Interface – a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications; specifies how software components should interact

artificial intelligence (AI): The simulation of human intelligence and learning capabilities in computer systems

asset: (see digital asset)

audit trail: A detailed record of transactions; in CCM, the record of all communications edited, generated, and sent to customers

automation: Controlling a process electronically to increase efficiency, reliability and speed; in CCM, using pre-designed document templates, business logic, and reusable objects to generate large numbers of personalized documents without the need for human intervention on an individual document level, often involving the integration of line-of-business applications (e.g., customer relationship management) with CCM software

BPM (see Business Process Management)

BPMN: Abbreviation for Business Process Model and Notation – a specification for graphically modeling business and web service processes

business logic: Software programming that sets real-world business rules to determine how data or information can be created, displayed, stored, changed and shared; in CCM, the mechanism by which an end user controls document generation, from retrieval of customer-specific information and replacement of variables to the inclusion or exclusion of content and any channel-specific formatting

business process management: A systematic approach to improving an organization’s workflow to make it more efficient and adaptive; in CCM, the process of managing the submission, review, and approval of individual reusable objects or complete communications

business rules: Defines or constrains some aspect of business and always resolves to either true or false; intended to assert business structure or to control or influence the behavior of the business; in CCM, the term is often used interchangeably with business logic

business user: A software user who is a part of a line of business within an organization and not typically a technology specialist (such as marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, etc.)

CCM: Abbreviation for Customer Communications Management

CEM: Abbreviation for Customer Experience Management

channel: A means through which people can communicate with each other; in CCM, any pathway by which an organization and its potential or existing customers can communicate with each other including the web, chat, social media, telephone, SMS, print/mail, etc.

chatbot: A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users over the internet

CMIS: Abbreviation for Content Management Interoperability Services – an open standard developed by OASIS which allows software applications to access data within other systems in a consistent way

CMIS4DAM: Abbreviation for Content Management Interoperability Services for Digital Asset Management – an open standard developed by OASIS; an extension of CMIS that is being developed to serve the particular needs of digital asset management, with the intention of eliminating the need for custom integration by enabling standard protocols for digital assets to travel more freely and efficiently between different systems

CMS: Abbreviation for Content Management System

communications-as-a-service (CaaS): A term coined by Forrester VP and Analyst Craig LeClair to refer to cloud-based customer communications management platforms

component (see reusable object)

container: An isolated guest in container-based virtualization; container-based virtualization uses a single kernel to run multiple instances of an operating system. Each instance runs in a completely isolated environment, so there is no risk that one container can gain access to another’s files.

content: The substance of a communication; in CCM, this is usually discrete pieces of text (e.g., headline, paragraph, etc.), individual still (e.g., photo, illustration, etc.) or moving (e.g., movie, animation, etc.) images, or the totality of these elements in a rendered communication

content management system: An application that enables an organization to compose, organize, publish and maintain content from a central database that facilitates collaborative content creation

content services: Applications, platforms and components that refer to a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and number use cases across an organization

content services applications: Applications that are specific to vertical industries or specific horizontal use cases and provide a solution to a distinct, content-driven business problem; examples include correspondence management, case and claims management, contracts management and patient records management.

content services components: Content services platforms have a base set of services and microservices, and content services applications will be built using them. However in a services-oriented world, enterprises will no longer be tied to the idea of buying a package that does everything inside of it. These solutions may or may not have an end-user interface, but enhance the capabilities of content in some way.

content services platforms: Integrated sets of content-related services, microservices, repositories and tools that support common enterprise content use cases. The set of services typically includes document management, search, indexing, categorization, capture, version control, workflow, records management, content analytics and more

context: The setting or circumstances of a given situation; in CCM, context may include the device, time of day, location, telematics of a customer requesting or receiving a communication, which may dictate content, channel, or other aspects of a communication 

CSS3: Abbreviation for the latest version of the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) specification – a method of specifying the display of content written in a markup language such as HTML; style sheets may specify font, color, margins and positioning and other formatting options

customer communication: The exchange of information between a company and its customers; an individual embodiment, whether in electronic (e.g., email) or physical (print) form, of this information exchange; also called customer communications

customer communications management: A set of software solutions that provide companies the ability to create, deliver, store and retrieve customer-facing communications through multiple channels and media; also called customer communication management

customer experience: The entirety of the interactions a customer has with a company and its products or services, along with the emotions those interactions evoke

Customer Experience Management: The set of processes used to track, monitor and organize interactions between customers and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle

customer journey: The steps a customer goes through in engaging with a company, including all the touchpoints involved in either the entire arc of their engagement or for the duration of a particular interaction

customer journey map: A diagram or narrative that illustrates the steps customers go through to engage with a company, usually for the purpose of analyzing customer experience from the customer’s point of view

customer lifecycle: The entirety of a customer’s possible engagement with a company, from awareness to discovery to evaluation to purchase to loyalty, advocacy and beyond

CX: Abbreviation for Customer eXperience

CX architecture: All the applications, services, platforms, systems, data, repositories and more that make up an enterprise’s customer experience management technologies

CXM: Abbreviation for Customer eXperience Management

DAM: Abbreviation for Digital Asset Management

dashboard: A user interface that organizes and presents information in a consolidated visual control panel for easy analysis and management of software performance

data integration: The process of retrieving and combining data from different sources in order to provide users with a unified view of that data

data mapping: The process of integrating data from separate databases by defining relationships between distinct data models to match and convert data across systems

data virtualization: The process of aggregating data from different locations in such a way that users can access a single virtual database of information that is not dependent upon knowing exactly where the data reside

digital asset: Any content or media owned/licensed by an organization, including text, graphics, photos, audio, video or animation; some may consider style sheets, layouts and templates among digital assets as well

digital asset management: Processes and software involved in organizing, storing and retrieving digital assets such as text blocks, images, videos and more

digital experience delivery: Creation, management and measurement of cross-channel digital customer experiences; often refers to a web-based software platform that facilitates the delivery of customer-facing digital communications

digital first: A philosophy of content creation that calls for optimizing the design of communications for delivery via responsive digital channels (i.e., web, mobile, etc.) over the page-oriented print channel; it does not preclude print as a potential delivery channel

DOCCM: Document Output for Customer Communications Management; see also Customer Communications Management

DXD: Abbreviation for Digital eXperience Delivery

engagetech: Any technology whose purpose is engaging customers

enterprise content management (ECM): The discipline and technologies of managing all enterprise content, including physical and digital documents, web pages, rich media, social content and more

enterprise data management: Creating, defining, integrating and retrieving data easily and effectively for enterprise-wide applications and processes

history (see audit trail)

HTML5: The latest version of a core Internet technology specification, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), used for structuring and presenting content in web browsers

interactive: Software designed to respond to the actions of a user (e.g., clicking on a chart or graph to receive more detailed information on the data therein); a process whereby an employee or a customer uses CCM software to create an ad-hoc communication

JavaScript: An object-oriented computer programming language typically used to create interactive effects within web browsers such as buttons or drop-down menus; in CCM, JavaScript is often used for writing business logic

JCR: Abbreviation for Java Content Repository – a Java platform API to access content repositories in a uniform manner for storing or pointing to content and other objects (e.g., configurations) as defined in the JSR 170 (version 1.0) and JSR 283 (version 2.0) specifications; Apache Jackrabbit is one implementation of the JCR API

layout: The way in which content such as text or pictures are arranged on a page

martech: Short for “marketing technology”; any technology designed to perform marketing functions

master data: The most essential data that is key to the operation of a business

master data management: The process of linking all data sources into a single master file that provides a common point of reference

microservices: An approach to application development in which a large application is built as a suite of modular services; each module supports a specific business goal and uses a simple, well-defined interface to communicate with other modules

multi-channel: Communicating with customers across more than one channel (i.e., phone, web, mail, social media, SMS, etc.)

omni-channel: Communicating with customers across any and all channels customers may choose, particularly as customers transition from one channel to another during a customer journey (e.g., opening an email and clicking on a link, visiting a web site, downloading and printing a document, filling out and mailing in the document)

on-demand: Available whenever required; in CCM, on-demand refers to a request made by an employee, integrated application or customer to generate and deliver a communication through the channel(s) specified in the request

personalization: Customization on an individual level; in CCM, the ability to make even a mass communication relevant to an individual customer through the use of data mapping, business logic and contextualization of individual communications

predictive technology: Tools that can detect and analyze patterns in data so that users’ past behaviors can be used to predict likely future behavior

readability: The ease with which a reader can understand a written text

relevancy: Connected to the matter at hand; in CCM, making sure a communication is meaningful and applicable for an individual customer (e.g., sending dietary suggestions to a diabetic to help them control blood sugar)

render: To produce or make a version of something; in CCM, the act of assembling a communication into the final format

renderer: The agent of creation; in CCM, the software component that combines content (e.g., text, images) and formatting information (e.g., business logic, style sheets) to produce the formatted content in the format required for the intended channel (e.g., PDF for print or HTML for web)

reporting: Issuing a statement or account of activities; in CCM, pertains to the software’s ability to create a detailed account of customer-facing communications or related activities (e.g., edits made by an employee before sending, usage trends of objects or layouts, actions taken by a recipient)

responsive: An approach to designing digital communications, particularly web pages, to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience across a wide range of devices and screen sizes; also called responsive design

REST: Abbreviation for REpresentational State Transfer – a software architecture style that is a stateless, client-server, cacheable communications protocol; used for building scalable (or “RESTful”) web services

reusable object: Any element that can be stored (e.g., in the JCR) and managed as a single digital asset and used over and over again; in CCM, an individual layout, text block, image, style sheet, business logic, etc. or a compound element such as a letterhead which combines multiple objects that itself may be referred to as a single object and reused

SOAP: Abbreviation for Simple Object Access Protocol – a messaging protocol that allows programs that run on different operating systems to communicate using HTTP and XML

style: In document creation, refers to a predefined combination of font, size and color of text that can be applied to selected text

stylesheet: A method for storing and applying font and, in some cases, layout settings (e.g., font family, color, bold, etc.) in order to standardize appearance across documents

template: A pre-formatted file that serves as a starting point and guide for a new document; in CCM, includes layout and may include reusable object(s), business logic and other content, either editable or not, for personalization of the resulting document

touchpoint (see channel)

UE: Abbreviation for User Experience

user experience: The overall experience of a person using an application or digital product such as a web site or mobile app; sometimes refers to the emotions evoked by the relative ease and effectiveness of the user’s interaction(s) with the technology and content

UX: Abbreviation for User eXperience

WCM: Abbreviation for Web Content Management

web application: Any program that runs in a web browser (also called web app)

web content management: The process of authoring, administering and publishing content, most commonly to a web server

web content management system: The application used to create, manage, store and publish web content, commonly using HTML5 and CSS3

web services: A standardized way of integrating applications using open standards (e.g., XML, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI) over an Internet protocol backbone

XML: Abbreviation for eXtensible Markup Language – a WC3 recommended way of assigning meaning to data in a text-based format that is both human- and machine-readable

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About John Zimmerer

John Zimmerer is the senior director of marketing at Topdown, where he leads market research and outreach efforts for the company's customer communications and customer experience products. Most recently, John has been researching and writing about the future direction of the technologies that power customer experience, and is regarded as a thought leader in this area. John has nearly 20 years of software product marketing experience. His areas of expertise include market research, analyst relations, public relations and digital marketing.

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