Any marketing initiative has buzzwords, and sometimes those words can seem at best vague and at worst empty. Multi-channel and omni-channel are two common terms you’ll hear floating around in discussions on customer communications. To cut to the chase: There is a difference, and the difference is important.
Multichannel communication refers to the use of different types of channels with your brand or product at the center of this communication. These channels include mail, email, websites, phone calls, social media—any means of connection between you and your customers. A multichannel approach gives the customer a choice in how to reach your company or product. Each of these channels is distinct and (hopefully) strong, but they working toward the same end—you.
Omnichannel communication is about creating a fluid customer experience across these channels. It’s common now for a modern consumer to switch frequently between channels. (Think of how often you are on your laptop and then look down at your phone.) An omnichannel approach aims to make that switch seem natural and consistent. In other words, the customer’s view and experience are central to the process, and data is used to make that experience integrated and remove the “feeling” of channels.
If multichannel is more about availability, then omnichannel is more about consistency. While multichannel centers your brand or product, omnichannel centers the customer.
Imagine this: Madeline Frasier, a longtime subscriber to your magazine, has just sent you a check. She’s a few days late with her payment, but it’s on its way. No one knows that, though, and because the account is still listed as outstanding in your database, a collection letter is sent to her house. Your company has now spent money to collect money that’s already in transit. If only there was a way to see that Madeline had mailed her check.
OSG MailTrekˢᴹ is the way.
This tracking application taps into USPS barcode technology to track your inbound and outbound mail. An Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) is printed on each piece of outgoing mail, which gives the USPS the data it needs to get your mail delivered to the right address on time. You can also include this barcode on the return or remittance envelope to see the status of incoming payments in real-time. This, in turn, will help suppress collection letters to customers.
For some of our customers, we have been able to achieve suppression of 4 to 5 percent of their production volume, while others have achieved as high as 12 percent suppression.
With MailTrek, you’ll improve the efficiency of your collection efforts by reducing the number and frequency of your mailings, and you’ll also improve your customers’ experience. Who wants to get a letter when they’ve already paid? Your company saves money on another letter, and Madeline isn’t annoyed.
It’s all about the data when it comes to customer communication.
Data tells the story of your customers and outlines what information you should be sharing with them. This is particularly important regarding the marketing messages you include with bills and invoices. When contact is frequent, the messages must be timely and relevant.
Data also tells the story of what’s already worked in with your previous messaging. Why send a “Subscribe Today!” message to a customer who just signed up? Why push a product to a people already using it? Analyzing customer trends and history is crucial. You should also be able to make timely updates based on that information.
OSG Campaign Composer is a data-driven application that allows you to segment your customer base. It’s designed so you can filter specific data to send one-to-one marketing messages that make sense. It exists to complement your invoicing or billing packages, to enhance marketing capabilities, to and make communication specific and targeted.
Here’s how it works:
- Define the filters.
A filter is set for one or more conditions you apply to your data to identify which accounts will be targeted by a campaign.
- Create the campaign.
Build the message that will target those specific customers.
- Create the package.
The package selects a segment of your customer base to target. It also specifies which dynamic messages, envelope messages, and inserts that segment should receive.
Another crucial feature: this application is timely. You can update the messaging at any time, ridding invoices and bills of stale, tired content. You can also send an endless variety of messages and cross-sell and up-sell products more effectively.
It’s essential to be using your data in a way that makes sense and brings you the biggest return. Your customers aren’t all the same. Why not try something different with them? Read more here.
Effective communication is about more than a smartly worded subject line or a crackerjack social media strategy. It’s also about more than just talking. Relaying information to clients is the backbone of any successful business, whether it’s through an e-bill, a marketing campaign, or an envelope. Here are four ways to do that more effectively.
- Listen first.
Or if no one’s spoken for a while, ask a question. It’s amazing how long someone might deal with something being wrong before speaking up about it. Check in with the client. Check in with staff. You can’t fix anything before knowing it needs repair.
- Simplify a complex process.
When we create transactional documents for clients to send their customers, we’re focused on a.) making the client’s cash flow more streamlined, and b.) creating materials that are readable, engaging, and clear. We’ve talked before about the two questions a bill needs to answer right away. You can apply that principle to almost anything communications-related. What are the most essential things that need to be stated? What’s irrelevant? Break down an intricate process into bite-sized pieces of content.
- Focus on storytelling.
You hear this a lot now: “Tell your business’s story.” A story has many elements, but they need to be adding up to the bigger picture. Be consistent with your design aesthetic. Share relevant updates. Stay in touch. Tools like OSG’s Letter Composer make it easier to send information and improve customer service while keeping branding consistent.
- If necessary, change the conversation.
At OSG, we offer a breadth of communication solutions, because we recognize that there are nuances to every industry and lifecycles that happen within them. Whether it’s a Back to School campaign in the summer or a new billing statement format, we can find something that starts a new conversation with your customers and increases your revenue.
Working with clients on their critical communication needs means we get insight into how different types of companies transmit information and which methods prove most effective for them. Here are some general observations that apply to anyone trying to create a better customer experience.
- Pretend you’re the customer.
Obvious, right? But really consider it from their end. The thing about billing is that we all deal with it, so what are the ways to make the experience less annoying and more fluid? What are some offers or messaging that would have an impact and not just take up space?
A point that comes up again and again is the issue of clarity. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: poorly designed bills and invoices will slow down your revenue stream. If they can’t understand the bill, they certainly won’t pay it on time. Once we achieve clarity, we can work on messaging that reinforces your brand and drives new business.
- Don’t be so quick to declare that paper is dead.
The funeral for paper has been scheduled and cancelled dozens of times. It’s true that as many companies have made the promise to be eco-friendlier and offer payment options more in line with the modern world, the need for electronic billing services has become more prominent. But that need isn’t universal. Many people still rely on paper when it comes to bills, whether for security reasons or plain ol’ habit (yes, even millennials). Listening to that need and being flexible is critical.
- Think about the industry.
One thing we pride ourselves on is not being a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to communication services, particularly since we work with clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Thinking about the needs of specific industries, and how their customers interact with them, is central to our work.
We offer technology that improves the customer communication experience. A key component to that improvement, however, is to use technology in a way that empowers your staff and makes their workload more manageable. (Happy employees = happy clients.) An example of a product that offers that mutual benefit is OSG’s CSR eView℠.
CSR eView is a web-based application that allows your customer service representatives to access customers’ invoices or bills quickly in real time to address their concerns and questions. If you’ve ever made a call feeling frustrated or confused by a billing statement, then you realize the value of having an application that would allow your reps to see documents the way customers see them. This makes communication more fluid, of course, but it also reduces the amount of time a CSR spends on the phone altogether.
We also archive PDF images of the invoices or statements for CSR eView users, and maintain a log that records the date, time and activity. This technology will empower your team to:
- Find answers more quickly in high resolution
- Give more accurate answers
- Provide the best customer service possible
Contact us to start improving your team’s workflow today.
To Whom It May Concern:
Hope this post finds you well. We’ll get right to it: It’s time to improve your company’s letter writing process.
OSG Letter Composer℠ is our self-service program that will upgrade your letter writing game while also streamlining and simplifying the process altogether. You can compose and edit customer letters, collection letters, regulatory notices, and any other form of personalized communication.
Why is it worth it?
Writing a letter is about more than just crafting its content—it’s also about style. You can upload your logo and other branding elements right into Letter Composer, avoiding the all-too-common questions that come up in this process: “Where is our letterhead?” “Where is our logo?” “Is this the green we normally use?” Your company will speak in one clear voice.
There’s no special software required, and there’s no lost time waiting for approvals.
With this tool, anyone in your office can make a letter look more composed.
It makes a difference.