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Multi-channel comms in the cloud

Eugene Concannon, Product Manager at Neopost, explains how the Cloud can help small and medium-sized businesses manage customer communications across mail, email and online

Cover Story
Cover Story

The Cloud is transforming the IT landscape by giving businesses a new way of buying software and solutions. Compared to on-premise deployments, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model provides greater flexibility, requires no upfront investment in equipment, reduces support requirements and ensures users are always working with the latest version of the software.

By giving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the same tools as larger competitors, without the expense or management overheads of an on-site solution, the Cloud can bring efficiencies to all areas of a business, including multi-channel customer communications through a solution like Neopost OMS-500 Cloud.

With growing demand from customers for greater personalisation and a choice of communication channels, adopting multi-channel communications is essential.

However, managing communications across different channels, including postal mail, email, web and SMS, poses numerous challenges: it can be hard to keep track of what was sent to whom, when and how; and doing so manually is time-consuming, inefficient and open to human error, which also raises compliance issues.

Many of these challenges can be solved by introducing an output management solution that automates the business processes behind customer communications, making it easier for businesses to meet customer expectations for personalisation and, in doing so, build stronger customer relationships, enjoy better response rates and reduce waste.

Output management software centralises and automates the management, preparation and distribution of customer communications via each customer’s preferred channel. Neopost’s OMS-500 achieves this by pulling information from different business management systems (such as ERP and CRM), collating it to create richer, more engaging documents and ensuring these are sent to the right person by the media they have chosen.

Users can add marketing materials, personalised flyers and overlays with ease to maximise the impact of each customer communication. The cost saving solution allows you to merge documents into a single envelope, saving money and improving customer satisfaction. Grouping outgoing mail and centralising distribution enables customers to maximise Royal Mail discounts. OMS can be integrated into any mailing process involving folder inserters and franking machines to automate mail flow management.

Integrate and automate
Imagine a small chain of real estate agents that have to chase people for tenancy agreement renewals by phoning and writing to them. If they wished to automate these time-consuming, manual processes they could set up a server room in one of their offices and put OMS in there with or without a folder inserter. OMS could intelligently read documents from their real estate and property management systems such as Propman, Qube or Yardi, select the relevant template, look for the right information, and send a query to another system to fill in that information to create a tenancy renewal that is then sent out via the appropriate, preferred medium.

Automating manual tasks and being able to integrate other applications and data sources ultimately improves efficiency, and in this case, could result in faster responses from tenants, improving customer satisfaction. With their time freed up, staff can become more productive in their core roles, which has cost and productivity benefits for the business.

Take to the cloud
With a traditional on-premise deployment, a company would need to deploy hardware infrastructure to run the application, and train staff to maintain it.

Unlike larger enterprises, many SMEs lack the dedicated IT staff needed to set up an on-premise solution. And other staff do not have the time to become experts on different IT solutions alongside their core roles. Even those SMEs that do have a small IT team may struggle, as limited budgets mean IT departments are increasingly being asked to do more with less. SMEs could opt to outsource the set up to an IT service provider, but this requires a large upfront investment to create a server, get it racked and connected to the network.

This is where the Cloud can help. Neopost’s OMS-500 software is available in a Software-as-a-Service version, allowing businesses to centralise communications through a hosted service, eliminating the need for costly infrastructure.

With OMS-500 Cloud, Neopost provides the computing power and runs the application for you. You don’t need to buy the software upfront, businesses instead pay an annual subscription. This enables a company to get up and running with the application with much less hassle. Since you’re spending less time on technical issues, you can spend more time running your business.

Guaranteed service availability
In the SaaS delivery model, the vendor manages the solution, and so is responsible for upgrades and support. You’ll always be on the latest version of the software, with updates occurring overnight or at weekends to ensure little to no downtime. Users can rest assured that they will have access to the latest features without having to deal with time-consuming software upgrades. Geo-redundancy is another benefit of hosting software in the Cloud, and is something that small businesses are likely to struggle to afford on-premise.

Geo-redundancy entails replicating data and storing it in a separate geographical location, minimising downtime in case one site fails for some reason, such as flooding, fire or external damage to power supply. SaaS can prevent disruption, ensuring a business remains productive when disaster strikes.

Guaranteed service availability from Neopost should give you the confidence that your communications will reach the intended recipients when you need them to. Neopost monitors the performance of the application in the Cloud and can intervene when it sees something going wrong, potentially preventing an issue before the customer is even aware of it.

Secure delivery
A folder inserter provides huge productivity benefits, handling a lot of the manual work involved in sending mail. But not every business decides to have a folder inserter; they may not have the space, particularly in London where office space is expensive, or they may feel they send too few letters to warrant one.

Neotouch, another Cloud solution from Neopost, takes this automation outside the office, effectively outsourcing the printing and mailing of paper documents. Your files are turned into a letter and routed to a Neopost fulfilment centre for printing, folding inserting and then given to the post office for delivery.

Neotouch can be used in combination with OMS to help businesses send communications through the channels their customers prefer. Once OMS has collated the necessary information, businesses can send it via traditional postal mail, email, SMS or, for more sensitive documents, via a secure document delivery portal. The portal can be branded with the company’s logo and colour scheme and an email lets the customer know they have a new document to view in the portal.

Automating highly manual processes in this way can also reduce or eliminate errors. Take, for example, a clinic within a hospital. Some patients might like to receive test results or appointment reminders through text or email, others may prefer a letter. A staff member working in a rush could quite easily stuff the wrong medical results into the wrong envelope, resulting in a data breach. Think of the potential embarrassment this could cause the patient and the reputational damage it would cause the clinic, not to mention the ramifications in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Ultimately, SaaS takes some of the pressure off organisations seeking to digitise manual processes. In avoiding the technological strain of set-up, security and maintenance, businesses are better able to focus on their core business, boosting productivity and the bottom line.

If they haven’t already done so, SMEs would be wise to consider the SaaS model so they can start reaping the benefits of output management software faster and cheaper upfront.

www.neopost.co.uk

For more information on Neotouch: www.neopost.co.uk/software/neotouch

For more information on OMS-500 Cloud: www.neopost.co.uk/software/output-management/oms-500

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2018