Implementing a multi-channel communication strategy offers significant benefits, not just to the business making the change but also to its customers. The advantages include cost efficiencies, speed of delivery, choice and flexibility, improved customer service and increased revenue.
Whilst there will always be appropriate reasons to distribute communications via paper and post, more businesses are also adopting a digital path to augment their communication choices. I have summarised what I think are the key reasons why businesses should exploit these multi-channel options to gain a competitive advantage.
Traditionally, regulatory documents such as bank statements or insurance forms arrived through the post. However, in recent years, the number of organisations choosing to move regulatory documents to online has increased alongside the desire to reduce the amount of white paper used.
Although print will always play a key role in communications, a clear benefit of going digital is the reduced cost of sending messages. Whichever digital route you choose to use, email, SMS, or social media, it will be at a fraction of the cost of traditional print. Additionally, in the last two years, paper prices have increased by over 30% and postage prices by c.14%. These will no doubt continue to rise.
Using digital communication channels allows the introduction of automation to the process. For example, robotics and artificial intelligence can be used to respond to incoming messages from customers without human intervention.
Speed of Delivery
When speed is of the essence, going digital can transform the way businesses connect with their customers. What may previously have taken nearly a week to achieve, can be completed within minutes if the right digital solutions are in place.
In terms of time, adopting digital communications is about far more than an email arriving faster than a letter. Real-time means precisely that – material that is available here and now – and companies can use real-time documents to communicate more effectively with their customers, allowing them to receive material instantly, to react quickly and engage appropriately.
In the debt management sector, for example, upon assignment of a debt, a customer can be notified, their affordability data collected, and a payment plan agreed digitally with limited human intervention. This also removes the need for paper, postage, inbound document scanning and human resource costs, while significantly speeding up the entire process.
Choice and Flexibility
A good integrated communications strategy should include a choice of many different digital communication channels, as well as print. Each will have its role to play depending on the purpose of the message or the preference of the recipient.
You can also do more with digital than just send messages. Digital communications allow you to engage and interact with your customers at a time that suits them; there is also the option to quickly try another digital channel if the first one fails to deliver. For example, if an important email bounces an SMS could be sent asking the intended recipient to call your contact centre to update their email address. At the same time, a printed copy could be sent to the recipient’s home address.
For customers who still require printed documents, adopting a smarter, well thought-out print strategy can help reduce the number of inserts and envelopes needed as well as postage costs – and ultimately the number of staff members required to manually process returned forms.
Communication insight is also instantly available, giving you access to real-time reports on the status of the digital communication, for example, did the communication get delivered, did the recipient engage with it, when did the recipient engage with it etc.
So why would your customers care that you are undergoing this transformation? They might not be aware of it, but they will certainly experience it. It’s about being different, offering customers choice and an innovative, secure space to make transactions slicker and safer.
By being able to understand your customers’ preferences, you can send your communications via their preferred channel – giving them the choice of how they want to be engaged with. By being quicker in your responses, a continuous stream of care is created, helping people feel that companies are with them every step of the way.
Improved customer service, the ability to react quickly and the flexibility to contact potential customers that were previously unreachable, naturally lead to more sales. Using digital channels to underpin frictionless customer journeys creates more responsive, immediate engagement which drives new revenue generation opportunities.
At Adare SEC we enable our clients to quickly and efficiently adopt an integrated multi-channel communication strategy, achieving key business goals. In the next instalment I’ll be talking about how to go about defining the transformation journey that will enable you to achieve your communication transformation goals.