If you are in the transactional document print and mail business, your clients are probably talking with you about lowering their costs. Most transactional document producers continue to focus on switching their customers to paperless delivery. They’d like to eliminate the expense of paper, production, and postage.

The savings from paperless communications are real, but clients must also acknowledge the drawbacks of eliminating the customer link that paper documents provide.

  • Consumers still want to receive important documents in paper form. Despite relentless efforts to encourage customers to switch to paperless delivery, most businesses have only been successful with 20% - 25% of their customers.
  • In an era where improving customer experience is the most urgent objective, failing to capitalize on clearly communicated preferences is a missed opportunity.

Once customers switch to paperless delivery, companies risk a decline in the quality of customer relationships. Electronic customer contacts happen in environments much more distracting than the postal mailbox. Customers encounter constantly competing messages like browser ads, emails, texts, and social media updates. Customers may be on the go, waiting in line, or subject to interruption at any moment. How will companies upsell, cross-sell, or educate customers when they deliver their messages in this maelstrom of electronic and environmental diversions?

Make Better Documents

Perhaps the best way for companies to maximize the regular interactions they have with their customers is by making their transactional documents better. That is where you, the document services providers, play a part. Clients may think of those transactional documents as a necessary evil — merely a mechanism to facilitate payment or fulfill their obligations of transactional reporting. You can show your clients how to improve those transactional documents so they contribute to their customer experience ambitions.

Consistent customer touchpoints can help your clients achieve their goals for objectives, such as customer retention and account expansion. To produce satisfactory results in these areas, you will have to ask questions to uncover each client’s business goals. Find out how the organizations measure the value of achieving those goals and their effect on growth and stability.

This puts discussions about transactional communications in an entirely different light. Instead of concentrating on decreasing costs, you’re talking about increasing value. Print/mail services providers can show their clients how physical transactional documents can influence customer perceptions and enhance the effect of electronic communications and hosted digital content.

A Little Document Re-Engineering

Service providers can use document re-engineering software to improve client documents and make them easier to understand. This has a direct effect on customer satisfaction and lowers the volume of customer service calls. Service providers can add graphs, images, explanatory text, or highlighted information. Personalized URL’s or QR codes printed on the documents can lead to even more personalized and interactive content available online, such as a click-to-pay screen or instructional videos. Personalized maps can lead customers to brick and mortar retail outlets or service centers.

Bills from my former electric provider are a good example. Because the bills lacked clarity about billing calculations, I manually transferred information from each bill into a spreadsheet. My balanced billing amount, despite the name, varied wildly. I wanted to find out why. My decision to leave the company at the end of my contract, even though I paid a higher rate through a competitor, was influenced mostly by my dissatisfaction with the clarity of the bills. Had they provided more information about their formulas, I might not have switched.

Print and mail contracts won based on cost savings or quality of service probably won’t forge strong client relationships in the long run. Showing clients ways their documents, often considered distasteful expenses, can contribute to their business objectives is a more reliable way to retain customers and grow revenue.

Mike Porter helps print/mail organizations improve operations and develop strategies for growth. Helping his customers make mail better has been a long-time passion. Contact Mike at www.printmailconsultants.com or follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter @PMCmike.