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10 ways software can help with customer communications

Blog post   •   Aug 28, 2014 17:00 BST

Everyone knows the benefits of mailing equipment like franking machines and folder-inserters. Less well known is the impact that mailing software can have on the processing of both inbound and outbound mail. Here are 10 ways in which mailing software can help you streamline the production, distribution and management of outbound customer communications.

1. Cut postage and material costs by enhancing the address accuracy of databases and mailing lists.

Each year the Royal Mail National Returns Centre in Belfast receives 15 million 'undeliverables' that Royal Mail is unable to deliver because an address is incomplete, incorrect or no longer current – every day 16,480 UK residents move, thousands of businesses change address and roughly 2,000 people pass away.

Businesses that fail to address letters correctly are wasting more than the price of a stamp. There is also the cost of paper, print, postage and labour to consider, as well as hard-to-quantify factors, such as business reputation and customer satisfaction, that could be affected if documents are not sent out when expected or are sent to the wrong address.

The simplest way to make sure this doesn't happen is to keep address lists clean and up-to-date using addressing software that standardises addresses to meet Royal Mail guidelines and provides regular updates of deaths and ‘gone-aways’.

More advanced solutions can be used to de-duplicate address lists and ensure compliance with do-not-mail requirements.

And remember: not all undeliverables are the fault of the sender. Print a return address on your mail and Royal Mail will return it to you so that you can update your records when a contact changes address without telling you.

2. Validate contact information at point of capture so that telephone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses are correctly formatted for future use

Addressing software helps keep address lists clean retrospectively, but what can you do to ensure that contact details are taken down correctly in the first place?

Capturing phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses – whether face-to-face, over the phone or online – is time-consuming and often results in the recording of incomplete or inaccurate information that may not become apparent until later when undeliverables are returned by Royal Mail.

A solution like Satori Capture from Neopost ensures that contact details are captured accurately first time by validating addresses against Royal Mail Postal Address Files (PAF) and by making sure that they conform to Royal Mail addressing formats.

By presenting address options as each element is typed, Satori Capture speeds up data entry and enables whole addresses to be entered with fewer keystrokes. In some cases all that's needed is a postcode or postcode plus house number.

In the case of email addresses, the software can flag up any that don't conform to standard addressing conventions enabling them to be verified at point of capture.

3. Securely send and automatically archive important documents like invoices via digital mail

Businesses today communicate via hard copy and electronic channels. The use of digital alternatives to paper can boost productivity and save money on printing and postage, but it can also lead to process duplication and information silos.

Output management software like Neopost OMS-500 or Neopreference overcomes these risks by integrating digital and postal communications in a unified workflow.

Once a document has been created it can be distributed via multiple channels, including mail and email, and archived as part of the same process. This ensures that you have a complete record of all digital and hard copy customer communications accessible at any time with a simple mouse click.

4. Improve campaign ROI by personalising mailings with names and varied messages or content

Instead of sending the same message to everyone on your mailing list, why not personalise greetings, message content and offers to reflect each customer's interests or purchasing history.

Analysis of 500 digital printing case studies by Caslon & Company, The 1-to-1 Response Rate Report (2012), shows that personalising communications and relevance can deliver four times as many responses as static, uniform messaging, in some cases generating response rates of 15% or more.

Even something as simple as printing the recipient's name on an envelope can significantly increase response levels. Alternatively, you could use variable data printing software to personalise greetings and messages on pre-printed mailers, or vary envelope insertions for each individual customer (see No. 7).

5. Increase customer satisfaction by co-ordinating communications via mail, email and SMS to meet individual preferences

For even better results, why not extend personalisation to the medium as well as the message. Consumers are more likely to respond favourably to communications if they are delivered via their preferred medium, be that the phone, mail, email or mobile. You could even schedule distribution so that prospects receive messages at their preferred time.

Neopost OMS-500 multi-channel output management software lets you create a document and send it via a variety of channels. You can limit distribution to each customer's preferred medium, or send a message via multiple channels to improve its chances of being seen.

The latter is particularly effective for marketing campaigns. A 2009 InfoTrends study, Multi-Channel Communications Measurement and Benchmarking, found that multi-channel campaigns using print, email and web landing pages were 35% more effective than print-only campaigns.

6. Design and produce attractive, well laid out and brand-compliant documents across your organisation

Brand consistency is a key component of good communications. Traditionally, this has been achieved through the use of pre-printed stationery and forms.

Nowadays, it is more economical to create documents electronically and print them on demand or distribute them in digital form. This provides welcome flexibility, but can make it harder to maintain a consistent corporate identity.

Which is where a solution like Neopost PrintMachine can help.

This powerful output management solution lets you create pre-formatted templates for invoices, statements, payslips and other documents and achieve brand consistency across all document types. It also saves the expense, waste and inconvenience of pre-printed forms that have to be stored on-site and thrown away when they become out-of-date.

7. Stop sensitive personal information going astray by avoiding human error in collating envelope content

Manual processes are time-consuming and prone to error – a minor consideration if all you are doing is sending the same document to everyone on a mailing list, but problematic if you vary the content for different people. Clearly, the more sensitive the information, the more important it is to ensure that everyone gets the material intended.

Folder-inserters don't just speed up the collation and insertion of multiple documents into envelopes, they also have intelligence that allows them to read optical marks and barcodes applied to printed output, including instructions on what insert to include with a letter.

A solution like Neopost's OMS-100 output management software can apply machine-readable marks to letters, enabling folder-inserters to vary insertions on the fly, with no loss of productivity and none of the errors that would inevitably occur if folding/insertion was done by hand.

8. Save staff time spent manually collating content for envelopes

The combination of OMS-100 output management software and Neopost folder-inserters is a real time-saver that also enables users to be more creative in their communications.

An entry-level folder-inserter can automatically fold and insert letters into envelopes and seal them ready for postage at least 13 times faster than by hand. The time-savings are even greater on faster machines with multiple feeding stations – and greater still when using software to personalise insertions.

9. Access additional Royal Mail discounts for correctly formatted and batched mail

Royal Mail offers a range of discounts that increase in scale according to the level of sorting done by the customer. Mailing software like Neopost Bulk Mailer lets you maximise postal savings by pre-sorting mail and generating all the necessary postal documentation, reports and postage statements.

10. Centralise mail production and distribution to improve efficiency and quality

Further savings can be achieved by centralising mailing processes for multiple departments, branch offices and remote workers. This will enable you to process mail using the most productive equipment, maximise Royal Mail volume discounts and take advantage of clever cost-saving features, such as Print Machine's ability to group letters to the same address and send them in a single envelope.

Neopost Mail Accounting Software extends the benefits of centralisation to mail accounting. This includes the ability to collect and analyse data from franking machines in multiple locations, giving you enterprise-wide visibility and control of mailing expenditure.

To find out how Neopost software can help you save money and be more productive, please call us on 0800 731 1334.

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