Tracking letters, transactional documents and other materials throughout the production process and as they move through the USPS mail stream is critical. Most obviously, health agencies, insurance companies, and government bodies that distribute sensitive or confidential information must make sure that data is used correctly and deliveries are made on time.
Such tracking is also becoming more important for marketers, especially in an age of multichannel communications. Direct mail, for example, is an investment that has to deliver the desired ROI. Print/mail service providers must assure them specific pieces will reach the intended recipients at the right time to coincide with digital or other types of messaging. When personalization is factored into a marketing program, tracking is even more imperative.
Mail service providers have enhanced tools to provide just these assurances. During document production, they control creation and assembly with their Automated Document Factory (ADF). Once service providers turn mail over to the postal service, Informed Visibility (IV), a newly enhanced program from the USPS, delivers greater visibility and transparency into the status of mailed pieces.
Automated Document Factory
The first step in producing effective documents is ensuring data is properly managed and deployed. An ADF is a system that verifies the print/mail operation has properly prepared and accounted for every page, document set, and envelope. Equipment-mounted cameras scan documents as they are processed and compare them to data files of expected materials. Any discrepancy, such as a missing or duplicate page, causes the ADF to stop the machines and alert the operators.
Besides managing complex workflows on a piece level, ADF systems also help document operations track and manage jobs. The ADF makes sure the print/mail operation processes all work according to the schedule and serves as an early warning system should a machine show signs of impending failure. The ADF can automatically reprint damaged documents, ensuring every mailpiece is processed and delivered on time to the USPS.
How IV worksUnder the previous tracking system, the USPS scanned individual pieces of mail as they entered a postal facility and moved to various distribution centers. The system worked well for letters, but it often omitted flats—pieces of printed matter such as magazines, newsletters, or catalogs that enter the mailstream already bundled for delivery. This created gaps in the tracking system and prevented real time updates.
With today’s upgraded IV, individual mail still gets scanned as before via the Intelligent Mail barcode, but IV also scans containers or bundles of flats. When a container is scanned, the USPS tracks all pieces associated with that container based on information provided by mail service providers.
The IV process fixes the visibility gap with end-to-end tracking and provides precise estimates for when a piece will drop into a recipient’s mailbox. When a mail carrier arrives in an area to deliver the mail, his or her hand-held device records their location. Since the system knows what documents or products the postal service loads onto each delivery vehicle, IV can generate a near real time estimate for when an item will actually reach the recipient.
Benefits of IV
The benefits of real time tracking with Informed Visibility are many.
Mail service providers now have more tools to manage data and documents more efficiently than ever. For a detailed description of how Lanvera executes and distributes critical business communications securely and accurately through the entire document lifecycle, contact us today.
When they call, customers naturally expect their FI to be able to view any of these documents and answer questions regarding the information they contain. There’s only one problem. A collection of unconnected internal or external systems generate the documents delivered to customers’ homes. Customer service representatives don’t have a complete picture of all the paper and electronic communications sent to a customer on their company’s behalf.
Downgraded Customer Experience
The lack of centralized document repositories that hold all an organization’s paper and electronic documents results in a poor customer experience. Without all the information, customer service representatives can’t answer customer questions immediately. They put calls on hold while they hunt down the information, or they call the customer back. These responses are not acceptable to busy customers who just want an answer about a document from the organization that sent it!
A similar issue exists on the customer’s side. They may be able to access some documents via an online portal, but not all of them. Again, the disparity of document-producing systems makes it nearly impossible for FI’s to collect all the materials in a single place. Customers may have to log into multiple systems or bounce around to different areas of the portal to find the documents they need. In some cases, desired documents may not be available to customers at all.
This issue is becoming critical as more customers migrate to mobile or electronic banking. Paperless customers rely on online document archives when they need to research information about their accounts. Information must be available when customers need it.
Complete Communications Access
Fortunately, Lanvera has a solution. Customers of FI’s serviced by Lanvera can access all their documents, even those not created by Lanvera, in a single online repository. Our clients deliver superior customer experiences and they save time and money by handling customer calls more efficiently.
This is a revolutionary leap in customer communications management. Most document service providers don’t offer this functionality. They focus only on document operations. At Lanvera we view ourselves as a technology company first. Yes, we handle customer communications tasks for our clients, but we’re mostly focused on solving problems for them. Lack of a centralized document repository was one of those problems we wanted to tackle.
To learn more about how we can build document archives, including access to documents we don’t even produce, contact us. We’ll be happy to show you. Omni-channel document access will change the way you think about customer communications.
Many financial institutions struggle to integrate customer-facing applications. Program administration often resides in separate business units with little synchronization between them. Coordinated customer experience (CX) is difficult to achieve when the applications are running under separate software and accessing independent databases.
This situation came about as financial institutions (FI’s) scurried to meet rapid implementation targets demanded by top management and FI customers. To respond, information technology groups, and sometimes business units themselves, deployed standalone solutions that met marketplace requirements but resulted in a convoluted collection of uncoordinated systems.
As mobile communications became must-have’s in the FI marketplace, business units within FI’s contracted with outside development firms specializing in mobile apps. Time to market was the driving motivation. Now, application disconnections contribute to inconsistent branding images and customer experiences.
Making matters worse, some legacy FI systems are increasingly difficult to maintain. When regulatory changes or competitive pressures mandate new features, IT must find resources with the knowledge necessary to code and test the modifications. Given the maintenance headaches, IT might prefer to re-write the old code modules in a modern language, but there’s never enough time or budget. Patches and workarounds proliferate.
A CX Overhaul
FI’s need is a comprehensive overhaul that consolidates all the functionality in a single customer communications system. In many financial services organizations, customer communication frameworks can barely handle the communications challenges of today. Original programmers did not build dynamic on-statement messaging and channel preference, for example, into legacy document applications still generating transactional documents. Future communication technology developments are likely to present an even greater management issue for these aging computer programs.
A new comprehensive system for customer communications can generate plenty of benefits for FI’s. Unburdened by old technology, organizations can concentrate on what they want to communicate to customers instead of worrying about how to do it. Redesigned communications composed with modern software can allow FI’s to include interactive charts, add color, or enhance documents with details that improve comprehension and reduce call center traffic. Marketing teams can target their messages, test multiple versions, track results, and respond to rapidly changing conditions without waiting weeks for their turn on the IT priority list. New customer communication systems can deliver documents via the customer’s mobile device or other channels while maintaining consistent branding and functionality. Customers can start a process in one channel and finish in another while navigating within a contiguous environment.
Customers Demand More
Consumers expect companies to know their interests and anticipate their needs. Companies like Amazon and Netflix communicate with them on a personal level and they expect similar treatment from the companies that handle personal details like their finances. Financial institutions must step up their efforts in this area to gain customer loyalty.
Most FI’s, particularly small to medium size organizations, realize creating a modern, omni-channel customer communications system from scratch is a huge undertaking. They don’t have the internal IT resources to build, test, and integrate all the components. Outsourcing their customer-facing communications to a partner with brandable solutions already in place is often the only path that yields positive results within a reasonable timeframe.
Lanvera is a world-class provider of end-to-end outsourcing solutions for transactional and business-critical communications. We couple cutting edge technology solutions with industry expertise to solve the complex business challenges facing customer-critical document delivery. Lanvera lets clients provide data in any format while delivering documents via any channel, including print, mobile, web and ePresentment.
Our consultative approach, ongoing technological investments, and custom solutions provides FI clients with answers that satisfy their business challenges. We have been specializing in creating customized solutions for the creation and delivery of business-critical data on any digital platform and print for over 30 years.
By 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. This group is famously fickle when it comes to brand loyalty and they've been known to switch brands when a company makes a mistake or they aren’t treated as individuals. What does this mean for financial institutions? What must they change to earn loyalty from their millennial customers and avoid excessive customer churn?
Millennials are more likely to change banks or credit unions than other generational groups. If they have a problem, they aren’t shy about switching their accounts. However, studies also show the millennials are less likely to report problems to financial institutions! This suggests FI’s need to be skilled at identifying potential trouble spots and they must communicate effectively with their millennial customers to ward off negative experiences.
Examples might include predictive analytics that allow an FI to foresee credit score changes that might affect interest rates or warning customers about low account balances before they experience overdraft fees.
Making it easier to report problems is also a practical strategy for retaining millennial business. This generation uses a variety of communication channels so make sure they can voice their concerns via mobile apps, social media, text message, and email. FI’s obviously need to ensure they employ mechanisms to respond quickly to complaints or issues customers raise through these channels.
A Seamless Experience
A unified, personalized experience resonates with the millennial crowd. FI’s must continue efforts to combine isolated data repositories so they can leverage information gleaned from multiple customer relationships. Portals that offer customers access to financial products in a single environment can be a differentiating factor that encourages loyalty. Millennials are more focused on convenience than previous generations. They will welcome a unified dashboard where customers can retrieve all their financial documents on demand.
Mobile must be part of the strategy. Millennials use mobile apps to check on balances and transactions, transfer funds, or originate person-to-person money exchanges. These mobile activities must be quick and easy. This generational group abandons applications that take too long or require too much hoop-jumping to complete a task.
A Personalized Experience
After convenience, personalization is probably the most important aspect of millennial business relationship nurturing. Data must be accurate and deployed at every customer touch point. Millennials want to feel their FI appreciates their business and knows them as individuals. Otherwise, banking services become a commodity easily replaced by organizations the customers perceive as being different, such as branchless neo-banks.
An omni-channel experience is especially relevant for millennial customers. They want to choose how and when they communicate. Be prepared for conversations that begin in one channel but transition to others on the whims of millennial customers. Whether on phones, tablets, computers, or in the branch, millennials expect their historical interactions will be fully accessible and interconnected. Think of customer communications as a platform instead of a collection of vertically oriented pipelines of information.
Millennials may be un-enamored with conventional banks, but as they mature and their financial requirements grow, they will need the guidance and support established FI’s can provide. Very few millennials say they are confident about their financial acuity. By providing the frictionless environment the millennials desire today, FI’s can continue growing and nurturing their customer relationships. This will position them as the go-to resource when millennials need car loans, mortgages, investment accounts, or life insurance.
Financial Institutions often accomplish customer communication with a disjointed collection of software, systems, measurement schemes, and data sources. Frequently, FIs purchase or develop these communication systems at different times and by various groups across the enterprise. Predictably, the result is a mixed bag of offerings that may do the job individually but fall short of omni-channel customer relationship goals.
What FIs need is a single plug-in that can access all their systems and provide a modern and easily navigated customer interface. The source of the documents should not matter.
In many banks and credit unions, customers may encounter branding inconsistencies or cumbersome integration as they try to locate information or access documents associated with their accounts. As customers interact with the various systems, they will notice the differences. Customer experience improvements may require heavy IT support, causing organizations to find themselves behind the times and slow to react to new products, new technology, or brand refreshes.
The customer experience is even more confusing when inconsistencies occur among communication channels. For some FIs, identical information they deliver via the web, mobile apps, or on paper may vary in appearance and functionality.
Digital Document Access
One particularly challenging area is digital document access. Customers attempting to view their transactional documents or correspondence frequently access the data via a document archiving system. While highly efficient at storing and indexing large volumes of documents, the creators of these systems don’t always optimize them for end-user operation. Customers may face retrieval roadblocks when archive systems do not generate user-oriented indexes or they restrict selection and sorting criteria. Also, archiving systems don’t always capture important communication components such as regulatory notices or marketing information companies insert into envelopes when they deliver the original documents on paper.
Third party documents just add to the ePresentment challenges. When customers must access a third party website to retrieve certain documents, the original company loses control over branding and presentation. Sending customers to another domain is risky. Customers may fail to return.
Difficulty with online document access dampens customer enthusiasm for eAdoption. Organizations have learned they must offer added functions and relevancy to wean customers away from paper documents. Hard to find PDF versions of printed pages served up by document archive software deliver little added value and so offer no incentive to turn off paper.
Plugging into All Systems
Fully featured ePresentment goes beyond the basic functionality provided by common document repositories. Whether documents are generated by a core application for billing and statements, correspondence applications, or a CRM, the customer experience should be the same. Comprehensive solutions like Lanvera’s ePresentment platform deliver these capabilities and more.
In the Lanvera ePresentment system, document retrieval and viewing methods are consistent across all devices, using a mobile-first approach. Filtering and downloading processes are easy and familiar, removing the confusion and frustration a patchwork collection of applications sometimes forces upon end-user customers. Customers may view even third party documents via the Lanvera platform, keeping the original organization in full control of the customer experience.
With built-in integration, companies can manage the ePresentment customer interface themselves, without relying on their vendors to make changes associated with branding or regulatory requirements.
Building customer communications integrated with all enterprise systems from scratch is a huge project. Electronic presentment solutions with plug-in capabilities allow companies to provide their customers with a rich customer experience without re-designing every system that generates customer-facing documents.
Let’s face it, delinquent payments are a problem for most businesses. Oftentimes, a customer will make an honest mistake and simply miss a payment. Other times, they will actively avoid you. Managing the revenue cycle can also prove difficult when you are competing with multiple other monthly bills customers receive electronically and via USPS.
While there are plenty of good strategies for collecting the money your business is owed, it doesn’t have to come to that. Here are Seven Ways to Get Paid Faster through the use of your business-critical communications:
1. Have a clear call to action (CTA): Show your customers exactly where they need to go to pay their balance. The CTA should be eye-catching so the customer not only sees it, but is compelled to read and act. When you clearly state exactly what you want your customer to do, it takes out the guess work and encourages an action on their part.
2. Use color: Adding color to marketing messages can increase engagement rates by up to 42%. And not only that, the addition of color can actually aid in improving your customers’ memory. Studies have proven that color can help people process and store images more efficiently than black and white, so by adding color to marketing, customers are far more likely to not only read, but retain your messaging and be more inclined to act upon it.
3. Make it convenient: According to a recent Federal Reserve survey, roughly one-third of consumers and three-quarters of businesses expressed willingness to pay a fee for payments that have faster availability to the payee. Offer an online invoicing process with the ability to pay online. An automated billing system will "ping" your customers until it shows the invoice has been paid. There is something to be said for having an automated process performing the follow-up for you!
4. Be polite with your language: While it may seem unimportant, adding lines such as "Thank you for your business" and "We appreciate your timely payment" positively reinforces the relationship you have with a customer. Be nice, and they just may return the favor. In fact, a recent study found that a simple "please" or "thank you" can increase your chances of getting paid by 5%.
5. Specify payment timelines: If a bill needs to be paid within 14 days, be sure to list this on the document. Also list if there will be a charge for late payment and how much the charge will be. Give your customers and clients as much information as humanly possible.
6. Utilize incentives: Beyond motivating payment with late fees, try positively incentivizing customers to pay you early. Incentives might include a 1 to 2 percent discount if payment is received within a specific “early” time frame. Consider offering future discounts, credits, gift certificates or merchandise as possible incentives. In the end, you’re saying thank you for making that payment a priority. It’s rewarding your customers for their business, increasing their loyalty, and helping you get paid.
7. Keep open lines of communication with customers: Oftentimes, when people have not paid, they do not realize it. Sending a simple automated email reminder to customers can go a long way. Part of the value of an email reminder is that it reinforces your relationship with the customer and provides an opportunity to engage. Use the email reminder to create an open dialogue with clients, providing them with a sense of security and comfort.
Interested in using your transactional documents to influence speed-to-pay? Click here to learn more or contact us for a demo.
According to NFCC’s Financial Literacy Survey, roughly 1 in 4 U.S. adults do not always pay their bills on time. Depending on where your business falls on the priority scale of all the monthly bills your customers receive, it is inevitable that many of your customers will make late payments, or even skip payments altogether. Here are four steps to better billing that will encourage your customers to pay you on time, or even early:
1. Offer convenience. A recent Pew survey reported that nearly three in ten adults say the most common way to they take care of their regular monthly bills is by an online or electronic payment. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve has found that roughly one-third of consumers and three-quarters of businesses express willingness to pay a fee for payments that have faster availability to the payee. The best way to cater to this need is to implement an online invoicing and payment process. An automated billing system not only gives your customers easy access to their bills and the ability to pay, but can also be set to send your customers friendly email and SMS reminders.
2. Communicate a clear and colorful call to action (CTA). Adding color to messages can increase engagement rates by up to 42%. Additionally, color can aid in improving your customers’ memory. Studies have proven that color can help people process and store images more efficiently than black and white. By adding color to your CTA, customers are far more likely to engage and pay their bills. Try orange or another bright color! According to QuickSprout, orange CTAs boost conversion rates by about 32.5%, and red CTAs boost conversion rates by about 21%.
The CTA should be eye-catching so your customers are compelled to read it and act. When you clearly state exactly what you want your customer to do, it eliminates guesswork and encourages action.
3. Be consistent. Consistency is key to your customers knowing exactly where to find their balance each time they receive their bills. Online and printed bills should be identical, making it easy for your customer to quickly scan their bill to find how much they owe and when they need to make their next payment.
4. Utilize Incentives. Try positively incentivizing customers to pay you early. Incentives might include a 1 to 2 percent discount if payment is received within a specific timeframe. Early payment rewards work particularly well for companies you are billing that have a separate accounts payable department. In fact, they tend to cut checks first when they see incentives for early payments.
To learn more about how to optimize your billing and increase the amount of on-time and early customer payments, contact Lanvera today.
Robots are taking over our jobs! *Cue Chicken Little*
In all seriousness, new articles surface weekly discussing how FinTech (an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient) will affect the financial job market- specifically retail banking- in the coming years. The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently released an article entitled “Citi: Technology Could Cost Two Million Bank Employees Their Jobs.” In this article, the author discusses the latest Citigroup report, which claims that retail banking automation could take over 30% of the banking jobs across the U.S. and Europe within the next ten years. The report lists 2006 as a reference point, citing that bank employment has declined 2% annually within the past decade and could very well accelerate to 3% annually over the next. Forrester Research estimates that automation will dislodge 22.7 million jobs by 2025. Those estimates, coupled with Citigroup’s report, means that about one tenth of those job displacements will be from retail banking.
Most studies show that production, customer service, office and administrative jobs will be among the first occupations to be completely taken over by technology. Furthermore, bank teller positions clock in at a 97% likelihood of being fully automated within the next twenty years, according to BBC.com. Basically, any job that does not require empathy such as social workers, nurses, therapists, and psychologists will be less likely to remove the human element. This will provide most banks with a more cost-effective way of serving customers, but has many employees worried that they will be replaced. However, there is a silver lining!
THE SILVER LINING
CNN Money states that “For a century and a half, computers, machines and robots have created more jobs than they have destroyed.” If history repeats itself (which it always does) the rise of FinTech will not create a job deficit as long as the market continues to adapt and mature. Bank branches will morph into a more advisory and consultative space rather than mostly transactional.
For banks that want to utilize their current employees in the future, a good practice would be to conduct an internal survey on a quarterly or biannual basis in order to better understand each individual’s strengths, weaknesses and goals. This will aid branch managers in training staff to expand their skill sets for better adaptability to future technological advances.
In an effort to meet the demands of digital-first customers, reduce expenses and improve efficiencies, Bank of America has recently opened three completely automated branches in Colorado and Minnesota. These branches include ATMs, as well as video conferences with employees from other branches, according to Bank of America Spokeswoman, Anne Pace.
“We are literally automating every single thing,” said Dean Athanasia, co-head of consumer banking. “Paper handling in the middle office, we want to take out. We want to streamline the transactions from front to back office – make it completely seamless – and that goes to auto loans, mortgage, credit cards, deposits.”
The banking conglomerate’s move toward a more automated, self-service model is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a more streamlined, cost-effective and digital-first customer experience; and it is the exact path most other financial institutions are following. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently released an article titled “Citi: Technology Could Cost Two Million Bank Employees Their Jobs,” claiming that retail banking automation could take over 30% of the banking jobs across the U.S. and Europe within the next ten years.
Most studies show that production, customer service, office and administrative jobs will be among the first occupations to be completely taken over by technology. Furthermore, bank teller positions clock in at a 97% likelihood of being fully automated within the next twenty years, according to BBC.com. Basically, any job that does not require empathy such as social workers, nurses, therapists, and psychologists will be less likely to remove the human element. This will provide most financial institutions with a more cost-effective way of serving customers.
What does this mean for your business?
1.Personalization is Key
62% of millennials report that brand engagement is more likely to make them a loyal customer, according to USC Dornsife. Because the actual in-person element is being eliminated, it is important to consider that each of your customers wants to feel special- which means that blanket messaging will no longer cut it if you want your business to be successful. Instead, customers want an experience that is unique to their individual preferences. The transition to more hi-tech, less touch strategies will force financial institutions to personalize all communications, including electronic and print customer documents. If your documents are consistently formatted and optimized for readability, easily accessible through any platform or channel and personalized to individuals instead of your customer base as a collective group, you will create the memorable and engaging experience customers crave.
2.Your Vendor Relationships Matter
According to Biztech, when you choose the right document services vendor, your organization can save up to 30% annually. When it comes to user-friendly digital applications, the best defense is a great offense. Be sure to align yourself with a document services vendor that has a digital roadmap and is heavily invested in technology that can help you address your customers’ digital demands.
Interested in learning how Lanvera can help guide your customer communications in today’s digitally driven world? Contact us today.
With the continued emergence of fintech, the competitive pressures innately forced upon businesses to improve the online customer experience continue to grow rapidly. By 2020, it’s estimated that your customer will manage 85% of their relationship with your business without human interaction, according to Walker Information.
Many businesses have adopted a self-service online model, giving customers more control over their accounts and transactions. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, where many fall short is the “set it and forget it” mentality. The result? Potentially frustrated customers, increased customer service calls, decreased retention rates, and lost sales opportunities.
Thankfully, there are solutions on the market geared toward improving an organization’s online UX. Electronic Presentment (ePresentment), for example, is an application that can help you satisfy today’s needs with the capabilities of facing tomorrow’s challenges. Here are some tips to ensure your ePresentment is cutting it in today's technology driven world:
1. Personalize. Studies show that customers react positively to personalization. Why? Because they like to feel valued as individuals rather than just numbers.
2. Utilize Dynamic Messaging. You have so much customer data at your fingertips- now it’s time to put it to good use! Age, income, geographic location, and marital status can help you deduct if your customers are eligible for your other services. From there, you can display messages and ads that are relevant to each customer.
3. Be consistent in design. Your ePresentment design should look just like it is part of your home banking site, giving the customer peace in familiarity.
4. Provide interactivity. Including interactive marketing messages and direct check view access are both capabilities that are enhanced through ePresentment. Marketing messages that can be clicked on for immediate access to offers are extremely beneficial and allow for a more pleasant UX.
By implementing the above tips, you can enhance the user experience and keep your customers coming back for more. To learn more about ePresentment and how it can help your organization, click here.