We all know marketing communications are going digital. In the rush to embrace new technology, marketers have ignored other, more traditional means of reaching audiences. Transactional documents are one of those channels marketers often overlook. These are important touch points and not leveraging their potential is a missed opportunity.
Thankfully, that’s changing. In recent years transactional documents have revived as effective marketing tools. Driven by new data analysis technology, marketers are leveraging communications via transactional documents to create meaningful customer interactions. Often referred to as transpromo – a combination of transaction and promotional content – documents such as financial statements, invoices, health or insurance statements, and others, are excellent vehicles to upsell, cross sell, and engage.
First, a few basics.
The Benefits of TranspromoDuring a time of email backlash, and messages on other platforms that often miss more than hit, transactional documents offer several advantages that make them standout marketing tools. Let’s look at some of them.
A key to triggering the benefits of transactional documents is the ability to mine and manipulate data. Today’s document outsource providers offer data assistance in addition to printing. Ask our experts how you can leverage the power of transactional documents by adding data-driven messaging to material you’re already sending to your customers.
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.
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.
Many direct mail or graphic arts companies process transactional documents as a sideline to their core business, but they aren’t the best choice for producing critical customer communications. The skills necessary to produce direct mail, forms, publications, or packaging differ from those necessary for high-volume printed and digital transactional documents. Be careful about choosing a vendor to handle essential customer touch points like bills or statements. The company that prints your business cards may not be the one best suited to process complex personalized communications for you.
All customer communications are important, but highly personal documents that include sensitive data such as financial information come with added responsibility. Service providers creating these documents must make sure they send every physical page or digital image – such as email, SMS and ePresentment – to the right person and they deliver the material on time. Best practices dictate document service companies track the personalized material as it proceeds through the production and delivery steps.
Requirements for direct marketing communications are not nearly as rigorous. Consistently performing at the level necessary to handle transactional documents and communications require a different mindset than one normally finds in shops that concentrate on graphic arts or direct mail applications.
Two Definitions of Document Quality
Communications like invoices, statements, notices, or tax forms are filled with information meant for a single individual. Failing to get the information to the right person or accidentally revealing private information to the wrong person can have serious consequences. Organizations can face regulatory infractions, fines, lawsuits, and damaged reputations. Transactional document processing providers build safeguards into their workflows to prevent data and document integrity errors from happening or to catch and correct them before they leave the building.
Document quality has a different meaning in graphic arts and direct mail shops. They are more concerned with details associated with the images, like registration and color, than the integrity of individual documents. Organizations specializing in direct mail will discard damaged or corrupted documents. The industry accepts a certain level of spoilage. Reprinting or re-generating documents rarely happens in such environments.
More Transactional Document Considerations
Delivery channel preference management is another area to consider. In graphic arts and commercial printing applications, customer-specific distribution decisions are not dependent on a variable stored in a customer database. Commercial printers ship finished materials to their customers or send them all out via postal mail. Also, processes for delivering important messages through secondary channels don’t exist. If a recipient doesn’t open an email communication within a certain time period, for instance, direct mail companies rarely print a physical version and send it to the customer’s postal address. Printing companies often won’t know when delivery attempts fail and lack a procedure for notifying their clients of these events.
Transactional documents often feature variable page counts. A financial statement for one customer may be one page, but the next customer’s statement might be five pages. To ensure every customer receives all their printed pages, transactional document service providers develop controls to count the pages as they create them. Automated systems then communicate this information to the finishing equipment. Duplicates or missing pages sensed by folding and inserting equipment causes the machinery to stop and report an error or divert the mailpiece for special handling. This level of quality control isn’t necessary in the graphic arts and direct mail world where physical characteristics of all the documents in a job are essentially the same.
Specialist of Singe Source Provider?
By choosing an outsource customer communications supplier that specializes in transactional documents, companies can be assured their vendor understands detailed document production processes. These companies have developed reliable and consistent production workflows that account for every component of every message. They have systems for re-generating damaged items, and know how to distribute each message through the physical or digital channel each document recipient has selected.
Before turning your critical customer communications applications over to the company that creates your marketing materials, be sure they have invested in the behind-the-scenes software and hardware appropriate for the documents they are asking to handle. Visit their facilities and get a feel for the company’s culture. Ask them how they handle damaged documents. Review their processes for tracking all your documents through the production process. Some companies have these procedures in place, but most do not. It’s not worth the risk to turn your most important customer touch points over to an organization unprepared to ensure every message they generate on your behalf protects your organization’s image and reputation.
When it's time to evaluate communication and document providers, the process of comparing pricing from current and competing providers proves to be a difficult task. Each provider may offer a different menu of services and price schedule, throwing off any opportunity to compare "apples-to-apples" unit costs. Invoice line item evaluation can be time consuming and confusing.
Outsource providers bundle services differently. Some quote a single price for printing and inserting a document. Other organizations separate those operations on their invoices. Companies may quote ePresentment as a flat rate or by the image. Tiered prices change when volumes fluctuate. Some service providers charge extra for receiving and storing items such as pre-printed inserts. Others don’t. Still, other document service providers may replace inserts with full-color “onserts” printed as part of the documents themselves. Onserts may be billed separately, or not mentioned at all on price quotes.
Outsource service providers add value at different points in the document production workflow. It’s not just the pricing that’s important. Companies must consider the benefits of working with each prospective outsource document vendor. Can an outsource provider enhance your documents? Add functionality? Improve deliverability? Lower customer service costs? Do they handle document composition or must you supply print-ready files? Document service companies can enrich your customer communications in dozens of areas. Added value must be part of the calculation.
The greatest financial benefits of working with one service provider or another may never be evident as details on the service provider’s invoice. Savings in postage, paper, or printing are relatively small compared to the positive impact an outsource vendor can have on their client’s objectives for customer retention, lifetime customer value, or customer experience. Document improvements such as upgraded design or user-friendly online self-service portals reduce client operating costs. These changes lessen the volume of calls handled by a client’s customer service department, increase customer retention, improve cash flow, or promote upsell opportunities.
Outsource service providers add value by:
Choosing the right outsource document service provider involves more than an invoice comparison. The most important selection criteria is determining how each prospective vendor can improve your business. What do they offer that enhances the customer experience, lowers operating costs, or achieves other business objectives? Price will always be a consideration when choosing vendors, but the line items on a price list don’t tell the whole story. Today, organizations look upon their communication and document services providers as business partners, not suppliers of a commodity that can be acquired anywhere and are differentiated only by price.
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.