Christine Erna Novitexby Christine Erna

A focus on customer experience – the type of interactions that occur between an enterprise and their customers – has come to the forefront of business management best-practices in 2017. For good reason too, because customer satisfaction determines, to a substantial degree, whether or not an enterprise will retain and grow its customer base, or slowly lose them over time. Customer experience is one main tenet that sets similar enterprises apart from one another.

Communications represent one of the key touchpoints between many enterprises who serve their customer base over the long term, which helps form a positive or negative customer experience over time. Banking institutions, insurance agencies, and health plans represent just a few of the enterprises, across industries, that send regular communications to those they serve. Over time, these communications create much of the customer experience – and play a role in driving customer retention rates.

Improving the customer experience should be a high priority for all business executives in 2017. In this article, I’ll recommend several ways your organization can create and distribute physical communications to help promote a positive customer experience, and drive the type of reactions from customers that your enterprise desires.

Leverage In-Depth Personalization and Targeting

Granular, one-to-one personalization has become more feasible than it was in previous years due to advances in variable data input. Effectively personalizing communications begins with your customer data. Likely, you’re already leveraging this data to send accurate, timely communications like personal statements, bills, or explanations of benefits (EOBs). But, there is an additional way enterprises can leverage this data if they have the proper technology and processes in place. With access to the suitable variable data print technology, you can leverage customer data to not only send accurate communications, but also to effectively target them for new offers, promotions, or up-sells. Let’s consider a bank. This type of institution could leverage quality address, payment cycle, and demographic data, alongside variable data printing capability, to offer only homeowners on their mailing lists a new equity credit line product; while effectively excluding renters. This way, they don’t need to blanket their entire mailing list with this new offer, saving their enterprise money, and streamlining their customer experience.

Use Affordable, High-Quality Color

Injecting color into your transactional communications is another way to create a more positive customer experience. When it comes to transactional print and mail, clarity is king. Color makes documents like bills or statements easier to digest and understand. This is important because when a communication, such as a bill, is sent by an enterprise, it is meant to drive an action. The more clearly digestible your communications are, the more effectively they drive that action. A recent study by CAP Ventures revealed that usage of full-color documents improves payment response time by 30 percent because color communications more effectively drive reading comprehension over black-and-white comparables.

Take Advantage of the "Extra Ounce"

At the National Postal Forum last year, the Postmaster General announced that the USPS would be expanding the weight allowances by 1.5 ounces for commercial, pre-sorted First-Class letter mail with no increase in postage rates. This weight change means that transactional mailers can save between $.25 and $.37 per mail piece, and even more importantly, it provides the opportunity for creativity in terms of what can be communicated within those physical mail pieces themselves. Additional promotions do not have to be squeezed onto the bottom of a bill or notice – they can now be included as a separate, full-color sheet.

Print technology, color print, and postage rates are all combining to create a sizeable opportunity for transactional mailers to drive more value from their mail than ever before, and create a more effective, positive customer experience along the way. The positive differences in customer experience created by adhering to print and mail optimization practices, like the ones described above, can drive the type of reaction from customers that your enterprise wants.

But there is an important pitfall to be mindful of.

Avoid Irrelevance

Even if your data is clean and accurate, relevant information must be timely, as well. This means that communications need to be produced and sent in a prompt fashion. It can be difficult to improve a customer’s experience with your enterprise if you struggle to get communications out the door efficiently and accurately. Streamlining workflows involved in your communication process – such as outsourced print and mail inserting solutions – can create an efficient print and mail environment. This efficiency, in turn, allows you to focus on what’s important for creating a positive customer experience through communications – reliable delivery times, accurate personalization, and the inclusion of relevant and timely offers for your customers, patients, or members.

There is an opportunity for corporate mailers to drive a more positive customer experience with communications in 2017. What it comes down to, is enabling your people, processes, and technology to make your print and mail processes consistent and efficient enough to take advantage of this new opportunity. 

Christine Erna leads a team of postal experts at Novitex Enterprise Solutions. She has more than 25 years of experience in direct mail marketing, design, analysis, USPS compliance and training, including 18 years with the USPS as a mail piece design analyst. She combines extensive knowledge with Six Sigma process strategies to help improve end-to-end mailing processes. She is a well-respected speaker and thought leader in the mailing industry, having presented multiple times at MailCom and National Postal Forum. She is also an active contributor to Mailing System’s Technology, DMNews, and other notable trade publications.