Checking the mail nowadays really means checking for what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to toss without opening. In that competitive atmosphere—fighting for a customer’s attention over Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and pre-approved credit cards—sending multiple mailings a month is overkill.
OSG’s Additional Messaging Page is designed to let you communicate more with less.
The AMP makes it easy to turn a transactional document you’re already sending into a multipurpose document. It’s a supplemental page that prints seamlessly alongside the invoice or statement. (In other words, they can’t just throw it away.) This also saves you money on printing, postage, and administration costs.
The specifics of the message are in your hands. It could be a welcome letter, a monthly promotion, or, yes, an incentive to try online billing. It can be single or double-sided, full-color, and targeted. It uses OSG Campaign Composer to segment your customer base so people aren’t receiving redundant or irrelevant messages.
The options are endless, but the pieces of paper won’t be.
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.
Multi-channel 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 multi-channel 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.
Omni-channel 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 omni-channel 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 multi-channel is more about availability, than omni-channel is more about consistency. While multi-channel centers your brand or product, omni-channel 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.
If your company’s goal is to move customers from paper bills to electronic, we understand why. Electronic bill payment and presentment (EBPP) is cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and customer-centric. But now you have to convince them of that.
Because of the perpetual digital revolution we live in, it seems like customer migration to a digital platform would be simple. What many customers really want, though, is the option to move freely between channels without any disruption of their experience. And some don’t want to give up print mail at all.
Our OSG eAdoption program guides you through the electronic adoption process. When you’re pushing electronic billing, it’s important to focus on working smartly and in stages. Not everyone is going to bite right away. Conduct surveys, communicate frequently, and spread your paperless messages through multiple channels—eblasts, postcards, inserts, and invoice and envelope messaging. Here are some of our other recommendations.
- Run marketing campaigns—multiple campaigns.
Marketing is a crucial element here. If Marjorie Duncan has been receiving a paper bill from you for 30 years, she’ll likely need more than a one-time suggestion to go paperless. Introduce, explain, and then start again from a different angle.
Simply put, the best way to get someone to do something is to give them a great reason to do it. Consider offering electronic billing as part of a discounted service plan. Tell customers you’ll donate to an environmental cause. Be creative.
- Manage the customer experience.
Once the customer migration begins, make it worth it to them! Your EBPP system should be easy to navigate. Customers should feel a sense of control, whether through notifications of invoice availability or through SMS text-to-pay options.
In the end, it’s crucial to be consistent with education, awareness, and incentives. We can help create an adoption plan that works.
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 help 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.
Here at OSG, we’ve just completed our annual customer survey. Though we love hearing the praise (shout out to Account Management for scoring more than nine out of 10), the constructive feedback is what keeps the trains moving. Maybe there’s a way to make a process run more smoothly. Maybe a client is interested in a new service of ours. Maybe there’s one simple change that would make the company’s overall experience with us that much better. Because that’s what we’re delivering—an experience, not a product.
Every single year, we read each comment, cull the best suggestions, and incorporate changes into our business where it makes sense. It’s crucial to live up to the kind of partnership we promise. The questions vary in scope and topic (customer service, products, management), but they boil down to this essential query: How are we doing?
We value this input so much, in fact, that we offer customer survey inserts as an option for our clients to send to their customers. It makes sense to use an invoice package as an opportunity to ask the questions that often go unasked amid the day-to-day tasks that keep us all bogged down.
Not everyone is going to speak up without prompting. Open a new line of communication. You might find insight that improves specific relationships and moves you closer to the bigger picture goals of your company.