Use Mail to Drive a Better Customer Experience
In this space one year ago, we talked about macro-trends impacting print and mail operations; the convergence of transactional and direct mail; the renewed focus on productivity services; regulatory and compliance considerations; and the consolidation of mail service providers. These trends influenced our industry throughout 2016 and continue to shape it today.
Looking ahead to 2017, I encourage you to review them and consider the challenges and opportunities they create for your business. As you evaluate them, I recommend you do so in the context of one more important consideration: What are you doing to improve the customer experience?
To me, customer experience is the number one area where print and mail operations need to focus in 2017. If you help your organization deliver an improved customer experience, you will almost certainly be rewarded. If you fail to do so, you will most certainly be penalized.
For many in-plant operations, this means holding yourselves accountable to a different standard and demonstrating value to your business partners in different ways. In the past, most operations were measured solely on how cost effectively they could process transactional mail. Today, they are also evaluated on how impactful and engaging their communications are and how much value they can add to the business in other ways. For those who are still being graded on the efficiency standard alone, you should demand, or better yet demonstrate that you should be measured on a broader set of criteria. Efficiency is essential, but we have much more to offer.
Here are four ways you can drive a better customer experience in 2017:
1. Use More Personalization
Personalizing your communications starts with knowing your customer. That means collecting and leveraging meaningful and accurate data. Ensuring you have the right lists, audience and information is critical. Good data can make your communication more engaging and help you avoid waste (i.e., sending an offer for a home equity line of credit to a renter).
Making bills and statements personalized, colorful and interactive not only reduces customer confusion, but it captures your customer’s attention and creates a vehicle for targeted marketing messages and additional engagement. Printing a personalized message on the statement and envelope drives higher open rates and can be a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool.
2. Take Advantage of Color Inkjet
For a majority of businesses, the capability to produce 100 percent variable data color print is no longer a luxury, but instead an expectation. Monochrome, spot color or color cut-sheet toner systems simply cannot produce the same results as digital color print. Your customers will see and react to the difference.
In 2017, the number of impressions produced on digital color printers will only increase. Over a five-year period, digital production print shipments and services are projected to grow by nearly 11 percent. Much of this will be in the transactional mail space, as declines moderate and consumers across all demographics continue to value paper bills and statements as a convenient and useful payment reminder and reliable record for their personal archives.
3. Leverage Productivity Solutions
Streamlining your workflow with integrated print and inserting solutions and leveraging software that promotes productivity are great ways to create an environment for future growth.
As the software that runs mail equipment continues to improve, we are able to obtain more timely and detailed information to improve productivity and predictability. Pitney Bowes’ Clarity solutions suite, for example, integrates and organizes data collected from sensors on production mail machines to support real-time insight, predictive analytics and prescriptive maintenance. Solutions like this will provide printers and mailers with a view of their operations and our industry on a micro and global level that was never before visible — from the performance of a specific motor on a single machine, to the productivity benchmarks of leading print and mail operations around the world. Look for these solutions to become more prevalent in 2017.
So, how does this relate to the customer experience? Quite simply, efficiency allows you more time to focus on the things that matter: meeting SLAs and driving revenue. The customer experience is improved by reliable delivery times and accurate personalization, including relevant and timely offers.
4. Choose an Omnichannel Approach
As physical and digital communications continue to converge, your bills, statements and direct mailings must be part of an omni-channel customer engagement solution. By continuing to anchor mobile, Web and video-based communications with an effective mail piece, we create more meaningful customer engagement. Leading companies are creating a tailored, seamless conversation with customers across channels and devices.
By investing in the latest capabilities, including interactive personalized video, companies are driving richer interactions, deeper personalization and greater access to information and options. Combining video technology with real-time data, for example, enables those companies to deliver billing statements in unique ways, providing a sound and motion experience to complement the mail piece.
Omnichannel communication also establishes a holistic brand and customer experience — a synchronized, connected journey across channels, including mobile apps, call centers, transactional communications, videos and websites. Together, these pieces create a seamless, targeted and relevant conversation that is tailored to each stage of the customer journey.
An exceptional customer experience is comprised of multiple interactions, so it is essential to think of the big picture. Collaborating with your marketing teams to deliver consistent, personalized customer communications across all channels; expanding your use of color inkjet printing; and leveraging software and the Industrial Internet to increase productivity and speed-to-market — these trends will help transform your customer communication strategies and provide a more meaningful customer experience. By keeping your clients’ needs at the forefront of your business strategies, you will be successful in the coming year and beyond.
Grant Miller is vice president, global strategic product management, at Pitney Bowes where he manages four distinct product families in the company’s global production mail business for enterprise-level clients. Grant holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Butler University. For more information, please visit www.pitneybowes.com