Neopost has produced a new guide explaining how businesses can improve their customer communications by integrating printed and digital communications. Here, we look at some of the ways in which the company is helping customers improve the efficiency of key business processes by breaking down the barriers between paper and electronic documents
This summer, many UK holiday makers will have checked-in and then boarded their flight with a simple flash of their smartphone. Not for them, the inconvenience of printed tickets and paper boarding cards; instead, the wave of an on-screen barcode downloaded to an app or sent as a link in a text message. This is just one example of how digitisation is transforming the customer experience and the business processes on which such interactions are built.
When it comes to digitisation, people often focus on paper-savings – the use of web forms instead of printed ones; scanning to reduce filing requirements and the amount of paper circulating in a business; electronic bills and statements to save print and postage costs; using a smartphone to capture and process receipts and other travel expenses.
Such steps will help businesses save money and improve efficiency. However, in adopting these measures, it is important not to lose sight of the customer – especially when it comes to customer communications.
Replacing paper with digital files might work for you, but is it what your customers want? Yes, some will like the immediacy of an email, but others might feel more comfortable receiving printed communications. Some will respond instantly to an e-shot; others will prefer to receive direct mail that they can give their full attention to when they have more time.
In a recent Royal Mail study, Smart Marketing for Small Businesses, almost half (46%) of SMEs surveyed said they use direct mail for marketing purposes. Of these, three quarters believe it delivers a good return on investment.
Satisfy your customers
For some, postal communications have an emotional dimension that digital alternatives lack. Many of the 4,000 Armed Forces personnel serving overseas like to send physical letters to loved ones back in the UK. In the interests of morale and well-being, the MoD enables them to do this, while also offering a choice of digital channels.
Significantly, support for printed communications doesn’t require the MoD to maintain a slow, inefficient paper-based process alongside secure internet calls and email. Instead, a hybrid mail system by Neopost makes use of digital technology to provide a better and more cost-effective way to send postal communications.
Service personnel with internet access can now type letters up to eight pages in length – a vast improvement on the old one-page ‘e-blueys’ – and upload high definition photographs and scanned documents from anywhere in the world for printing and mailing in the UK.
Offer a choice of media
For Phil Hutchison, Marketing Director, Neopost Limited, this application highlights a number of key points about digitisation and customer communications.
“First, it shows the importance of offering a choice of communication channels. The MoD does this in the interests of morale and welfare. For commercial organisations, having the flexibility to meet people’s preferences can strengthen customer relationships, improve satisfaction levels and lead to more business,” he said.
“Secondly, it demonstrates how digitisation can address the shortcomings of an existing paper-based process, not by replacing it with a digital alternative but by using digital technologies to make it better. In this case, the new hybrid mail system lets service personnel send longer letters, high quality photographs and scanned documents.
“Thirdly, it shows how digitisation makes it possible to improve a service and cut costs at the same time – the MoD is anticipating savings in the region of £500,000. Whatever reason Neopost customers have for embarking on a digitisation project, many are delighted by the ripple effect of their investment. A document management system introduced to speed up document storage and retrieval might free up space for a new meeting room. Likewise, an e-invoicing system introduced to save money on printing and postage could help you get paid faster and improve cash flow.”
Talk to the experts
Neopost has been meeting the communication challenges of its customers for more than 90 years. During this time, it has continued to expand its product offering to take advantage of advances in technology.
Today, in addition to its established mailing productivity solutions, its portfolio includes a range of solutions and services for automating key processes at every stage of the lifecycle for inbound and outbound communications. These include output management software, e-invoicing solutions, scanning and electronic document management systems, customer communications management software and business process optimisation.
With its heritage in mailing technology, Neopost’s solutions are designed to fully integrate digital and printed communications. This is important not just because many processes either start or end with a customer interaction, which might be paper-based or digital, but also because it allows customers to make a phased transition to paperless working.
This could be to meet their business needs (cost reduction, improved compliance, faster decision-making etc.) or, in many cases, to satisfy the growing demand from customers for greater personalisation and a choice of communication channels:
65% of organisations surveyed by AIIM report growing demand for paperless communications;
80% of consumers surveyed by Verint said they expect to receive personalised customer service; and
92% of customers questioned by Yonder Group agreed with the statement ‘I tend to stay more loyal and increase my business with companies that resolve my queries and enquiries quickly and effectively however I get in touch with them’.
Phase your transition to digital
Businesses tend to adopt a phased approach to digitisation. This is especially true of small and medium-sized ones that often don’t have the resources, expertise or confidence to make the transition to paperless working in one go. More importantly, customers and suppliers won’t suddenly stop sending or requesting hard copy documents and a business should be able to accommodate their preferences.
The requirement to manage electronic and printed documents simultaneously poses a number of challenges: which channel should you use to contact customers? how do you prevent duplication? how do you maintain a consistent corporate identity? how do you offer the same level of personalisation across different channels? how do you create a unified view of all customer communications, printed and digital?
“These are important questions,” explains Phil Hutchison. “But for Neopost, they are not particularly new. For example, our OMS output management software originally developed to automate the production of physical mailings enables customers to create templates for corporate documents, to personalise the content of mailings and letters and to create an online archive of customer communications. These solutions have now evolved to include document distribution via print, mobile, email and web, with unified archives of communications across all channels and the ability to create dynamic designs that adjust automatically to the receiving device, be it a tablet, smartphone or computer.”
Neopost customers are using these tools to create and distribute the full array of customer communications, from marketing messages to transactional mail, such as bills and statements.
Many are also taking advantage of specific departmental solutions offered by Neopost to streamline a particular process or activity. One of the most popular of these is e-invoicing, which more and more organisations are adopting to save money on paper and postage, speed up payment and eliminate errors associated with manual invoice processing.
AIIM’s annual survey of paper use in the workplace, Paper-Free in 2016, Are we there yet? shows that after Human Resources, the two functions most likely to have seen a reduction in paper use are Accounts Payable (41%) and Accounts Receivable (39%).
Neopost’s cloud-based offering integrates with existing accounts packages and payment systems and supports file formats used by third party EDI e-invoicing providers. Sitting between suppliers and buyers, it automatically manages the seamless flow of information between disparate invoicing and payment systems, with no need for customers to make any configuration or system changes.
Like other Neopost solutions, Neopost’s e-invoicing solution has the flexibility to meet all customer requirements. Invoices can be distributed by mail, EDI, fax, XML feeds and email. After three failed email delivery attempts, invoices will automatically be printed and sent through the mail.
Optimise your business processes
With its proven expertise in electronic document management and business process optimisation, Neopost company Data Capture Solutions (DCS) can help businesses digitise and streamline any workflow.
From the digital mailroom (for scanning inbound paper documents and distributing them electronically) to accounts payable (for scanning hard copy invoices and automatically entering key details into an accounts/payment system), its consultants can provide tailored solutions to any document workflow.
Your guide to integrated communications
To help businesses on their digitisation journey, Neopost has produced a new guide in association with Business Info magazine.
The Neopost Guide to Integrated Customer Communications provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities presented by digitisation and explains in more detail how Neopost solutions can help businesses improve their customer communications whilst continuing to meet the preferences of their customers.
To download your free copy and arrange a free consultation , please visit