November 26th, 2020

Effective customer communication is a priority for running a successful business, so it’s no wonder Customer Communication Management (CCM) solutions have become increasingly popular with business-to-business (B2B) organizations. But with all the CCM tools in the market today, it’s easy to get distracted. In fact, many organizations neglect to consider that they may not need a special customer communication management platform to achieve their goals.

Yes, you read that right. CCM tools can be great, we won’t tell you otherwise. But if you’re a B2B organization looking to simplify and improve communication with your customers, this starts with your EDI provider. After all, good teamwork is the foundation of running a highly efficient supply chain. This requires you and your customers to be on the same page at all times, giving them a top-notch customer experience so they keep bringing in the business.  

A Great Customer Experience Starts with Your EDI Provider

Whether you’re implementing a complete B2B EDI solution for the first time or simply want to switch providers, the most important thing is that you’re able to meet all of your customers’ EDI expectations. The next thing to consider is a solid, two-way communication strategy that enables both you and your customers to stay informed about anything and everything that may affect one of your supply chains.

As already mentioned, a CCM tool is always an option, but it’s not an absolute must. With the right EDI solution, you should be able to effectively communicate with your customers about everything supply-chain-related without having to add to your technology stack.

What is Customer Communication Management (CCM)?

From a software perspective, CCM enables organizations to centralize communication with customers across a wide range of channels, both analog and digital. It includes printed documents, emails, PDF attachments, interactive documents, SMS text messages, and more. CCM tools in the market today originated from the need to increase customer engagement. This began with sending highly personalized messages.

The Customer Engagement vs. Customer Experience Debate

Although customer engagement is more traditionally viewed as a business-to-consumer (B2C) priority, CCM tools and (cough, cough) EDI solutions can also help B2B organizations improve in this area. This has its benefits.

It’s an all-too-common trend that as a business grows, communication with customers tends to decline. As a result, customer satisfaction goes does with it. This directly relates to customer experience, as communication often becomes impersonal and is seen as something mandatory rather than as a means to really connect. For B2B organizations, a healthy supply chain (and a successful business) depends on high levels of customer satisfaction and a good customer experience overall. This begins with establishing regular, thoughtful contact with all of your customers.

Ensuring a good customer experience is especially crucial in saturated markets, or those with less unique products and/or services. The more generic your products and/or services are, the more important it is to distinguish yourself from your competitors in terms of customer satisfaction. This is exactly why customer experience wins in the customer engagement vs. customer experience debate. If customer satisfaction is low, there will be no engagement. Your customer will simply choose another supplier.

Manage Customer Communication from Your EDI Portal

When choosing an EDI provider for your company, it is important to take into account the options you have to interact with your customers and how you can manage those communications. You will undoubtedly need to communicate supply-chain-related information to your customers, and you’ll want to make sure you both have a good experience in the process. For example, you might need to inform individual EDI portal users of scheduled maintenance, or a price change regarding a product or service. Or maybe you just want to wish them a happy holiday season. 

The nice thing about communicating with your customers directly from your EDI portal is that users can easily be segmented into relevant groups. For example, by EDI services used, portal role (e.g. admins), geographical location, and more. You can send personalized messages to these groups via email, or even provide in-portal notifications. The same holds true for one-to-one communication.

Connecting the Dots

Effective communication management in your supply chain saves time, increases efficiency and, if all your customers are well informed, postively impacts customer experience. That being said, it's hard to imagine that a company would opt for an EDI solution that doesn't have these features built-in.

You can read our latest release notes to learn more on how we continue to develop our FLOW Partner Automation platform to, among other things, contribute to an excellent customer experience for your all your customers.