By: Leigh Segall, CMO at Smart Communications

We’ve just wrapped up INNOVATE 2021 and one thing is for certain: for Smart Communications customers, partners and digital-savvy enterprises around the world, the future is indeed SMART.

Attendees walked away with a deep understanding of a wide range of topics, including:

  • Exclusive insight into the Smart Communications product roadmap
  • Tips and inspiration from successful Smart Communications customers
  • Strategies for optimizing customer conversations in a post-pandemic world
  • Insight into how to take the next step in digital transformation


In this post, we recap the key takeaways from the two-day, virtual event. If you want to re-live some of our favorite moments, read more below and check out the sessions on-demand. 

Customer Expectations are Forever Changed

Customer expectations have been on the rise for quite some time, and the pandemic has only accelerated their increasing preferences for a digital-first approach. In fact, nearly 40% of consumers in the U.S. indicated they changed their preference from direct mail to digital communications due to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. James Brown and Simon Tindal, CEO and CTO at Smart Communications, discussed this and more to kick off the event.

“We don’t need to remind you that a lot has happened in the last year,” said Brown. “The pandemic had a major impact on our health, our families, our economies – and our businesses. We had to shift to remote work overnight, old processes needed to quickly change and we had to find new ways to ensure productivity and collaboration.”

“The way we interact with customers dramatically changed as well.  Not only did consumers become more comfortable with digital transactions, many of them began to rely on them solely for their shopping, doctor visits, banking and more,” Brown continued.

Needless to say, we won’t go back to the old ways of doing things any time soon. The way businesses engage with their customers is forever changed – and digital interactions are here to stay. 

Transformation is a Continuum

Throughout the event, we heard from a wide range of customers and partners. These companies spanned a variety of industries and geographies, but one theme was consistent throughout: when it comes to digital transformation journeys, we’re just getting started.

“We have been on a path of refining and redefining systems and one area that has been of great interest to us is our forms platforms,” said Daniel Saffioti, Director, Solution and Project Services at Western Sydney University.

Hagerty is on a similar transformation journey, as Nick Cassell, VP of Product Development, shared, “When we started to look at SmartCOMMTM, we were looking at not only a document engine, but we were looking at our entire insurance ecosystem and infrastructure, which was built 15 years ago. So, we were starting to want to make this digital transformation to more modern systems that could benefit our members in a much better way.”

He continued, “The ability to tailor our communications to our members, to their passion, to what they love and want to do every day is really going to set Hagerty apart from the rest of the automotive industry, and the insurance industry moving forward.”

Across the board, customers and partners alike shared that transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and that it’s a continuous journey. For those who have effectively implemented and executed on a digital transformation journey, however, technology has been central to their success.

Technology is the Foundation to Omnichannel Customer Journeys

Effectively managing the customer experience is an age-old challenge for enterprises. But in today’s digital-first era, businesses must have the right processes and infrastructure in place to set themselves apart from a very crowded competitive landscape.

86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience

“Customer experience management is all about optimizing the perception that customers have about your brand, and that perception is formed by the customer, looking back at all of the previous touchpoints and interactions they’ve had” said Kaspar Roos, Founder and CEO of Aspire, and our day-two keynote speaker.

But once you’re effectively managing the customer experience, how do you improve it?

Roos told us to “focus on ease, effectiveness and empathy.” Below, we break down what each of those means for technology and the customer experience:

  • Ease: Ensure that communications are easy to understand and navigate. If it’s a digital interaction, it should be easy to switch between channels to offer a true omnichannel experience. There is a lot of technology innovation in this area, particularly surrounding content intelligence, where you can leverage AI to identify redundancies, duplicates or jargon.
  • Effectiveness: Effective communications are relevant and achieve their intended purpose, and the best way to accomplish this is to build in increased personalization. Technology – more specifically orchestration capabilities – enables enterprises to send more tailored communications.
  • Empathy: In customer communications, it’s critical to understand customer preferences and remove potential barriers. Enterprises that employ more personalization through videos, visual chatbots, bidirectional communications and more are likely to increase customer engagement and retention.


So, what does the future hold for enterprises around the world? Roos stated that “Cloud is pretty much going to be the way forward.” He indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated cloud adoption and that as we prepare for a post-pandemic world, “the companies that are much more customer experience focused are much more open to the cloud.”

Around the world, business leaders are facing a wide variety of challenges – some that have been around for a while, and others that emerged more recently as a result of the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the opportunity for enterprises to adapt and evolve their customer conversations to become true competitive differentiators has never been greater.

Throughout INNOVATE, speaker after speaker reiterated that it’s time to rethink customer engagement, shifting away from one-way, transactional communications to two-way customer conversations, and that the best way for companies to succeed is to invest in cloud-based solutions that optimize the end-to-end customer experience.

At Smart Communications, we are continuously working toward a SMARTER future. Our customers are the ones who motivate us day in and day out, and we hope that – regardless if you joined us live or are checking out INNOVATE on-demand – you feel inspired to take your customer conversations to a new level. We hope to see you in person next year!