Over the last few years a quiet revolution has been happening in the area of transactional documents and marketing. As Marketing departments focus on the total customer experience, they are looking at all customer touchpoints and this inevitably leads to a new focus on transactional documents – perhaps the most reliable customer touchpoint there is, with over 90% of documents being opened and read (InfoTrends).
Now more and more transactional documents are being seen as a key part of the marketing mix, and a key driver for the total customer experience.
In fact – according to Forrester*, improving customer service with more rapid and targeted communications is the overwhelming Customer Communications objective.
Improving customer service is the overwhelming CCM objective
Nowadays when clients are much more in control of their communications, with the ability to opt out protected by law, the core, transactional communications (bills, statements and so on) become increasingly important as a means to communicate with customers. After all in Europe alone billions of critical documents are produced each year—insurance policies, medical records, voting ballots, statements, customised direct mail, casino coupons, lottery tickets and more.
Another key driver, over the past few years, is that the ability of Marketing Departments to control and use outbound communications has been significantly restricted due to new legislation such as opt out laws. In addition there has been an explosion in inbound communications, driven by Social Media. As a result Marketing Departments need to focus on being a lot smarter with handling customer communications. Hence they are adopting more process-driven technologies like Asset Management to automate the process of customer communications.
Of course technologies like these have been widely used in transactional documents for many decades. The result: a new focus on how to maximise the efficiency of all forms of customer communications both outbound and inbound. This is what we call Critical Communication.
Introducing Critical Communications
For us, Critical Communications is more than transactional documents such as bills statements, customer letters and so on. It covers all areas of process-driven communications – including “thank you emails”, confirmation letters, proposals and so on.
More and more “marketing documents” are really now part of Critical Communications processes. According to Forrester*, there are now a whole range of document outputs that come under the area of Critical Customer communications.
For example: if a person filled in an online request an insurance quote, then the confirmation email may be subject to regulatory compliance. Depending on their credit status there may be legal requirements to use certain wording, and even in some cases printed communications.
Other examples are:
- Welcome packs
- Re-activation documents
- Loyalty / Retention mailings
- Customer letters
This is why Ricoh has now introduced a broad suite of workflow solutions designed to cover all of the key areas of delivering and managing Critical Communications.
Our Critical Communications solution suite can help you grow your business and by helping you prove that every document is printed, inserted, reprinted and mailed with accuracy. And, our systems are really easy to reconfigure to meet changing regulations and document formats. Importantly they now also cover Marketing communications.
Regulatory compliance and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
If you’re already working with customers in regulated industries or want to grow into this business, you will know that this market is driven by regulatory compliance and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It can be very challenging it is to meet the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and deal with regulatory compliance, all while keeping costs as low as possible.
Critical customer communications requirements are rarely straightforward. For example, Shop Direct UK had 22 different forms and Diamond Marketing Solutions US (described later) had 206 forms.
Companies are under pressures to keep the costs as low as possible. That’s why many are now turning to automated workflows (like Ricoh Process Director) which deliver both audit-ready reports to prove compliance, and an efficient job tracking and management system so they can meet deadlines and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty
A significant side benefit of an automated workflow is that Companies or their PSPs can also reduce postal costs with automated reprints and sorting for high-volume discounts, and of course reduce wastage.
Not just multi-channel but omni channel, with print a key part of the brand experience
“In today’s digital age, customers expect multichannel experiences where they can move seamlessly between channels and devices how and when they want.” Accenture*
Today consumers expect to receive communications across multiple channels: print, online, mobile. If they call the Call Centre with a query they expect the Call Centre to be fully aware of their account and the terms of the latest offer. As a result, Marketing communications are increasingly falling under the remit of Critical communications. This means that they need to be managed and controlled – just as the more traditional transactional communications.
Centralising management of marketing assets, streamlining on-demand output requests, enabling customized materials and managing cross-media communications and web-to-print submissions are all essential building blocks for becoming a multichannel powerhouse.
Despite many efforts to the contrary print is here to stay. In some situations – where you need your customer to take action – print is simply the best form of communication. Examples includes letters demanding payment, notice of arrears, and Direct Mail campaigns to acquire new customers. Hence it’s no surprise that more and more brands are beginning to appreciate the unique value of print as part of the whole brand experience. Rather than replacing print with electronic presentment, modern brands are looking at ways to maximise the value of each communications medium.
It’s all about the technology
The solution you use should incorporate a comprehensive set of workflow and integrated print technologies to streamline print jobs, customer communications and mail delivery requirements. The easiest way to do this is to implement a single view of all communications, across all channels, which helps to increase efficiency and maintain integrity of critical documents.
Our Critical Communications solutions suite provides secure, automated and highly regulated management of critical documents via a centralized portal. The result is that you can meet all of the regulatory and document integrity requirements that your clients and the larger industry demands, while also enabling personalization of promotional materials and management of those communications across all channels – print, electronic, social media and more.
A good example of this is. Diamond Marketing Solutions (US) is a good example of the complexity of Critical Communications. They specialise in the creation, production and deployment of data-driven, highly personalised communications in print and digital response media. They recently replaced a forms-based print solution with 206 different pre-printed forms with a “white paper in, full colour out” solution based on Ricoh IP5000 colour inkjet and Ricoh Process Director.
Grow at your own pace
You need not implement a whole new Critical Customer Management (CCM) system to manage Critical communications . CCMs are appropriate for large, complex, clients. However you can build a solution, piece by piece as your needs grow.
One example is Ricoh’s TotalFlow DocEnhancer. This is a plug in to Adobe Acrobat which allows you to make existing variable data documents multi-channel by inserting QR codes and / or bar codes – without having to change the original document. In this way you can make your document cross-media at the point when they are printed, and now when the documents are composed.
Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA
By its very nature, Critical communications is an essential function to any business. Therefore it’s no surprise that many Companies or their PSPs who focus on Critical communications are finding more and more opportunities to develop and extend their business not just in the area of print but also in communications management.
For more Insights from Ricoh see: ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond