Give the people what they want – how and when you want them to have it!
How well do you know your customers? In an age of greater choice and declining brand loyalty, customer knowledge is rightly seen as fundamental to business success. Understanding what your customers want is the keystone of good customer service.
However, new research1 by First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS) suggests that more than half of Britain's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have sketchy knowledge of their customers, with 42% basing decisions on gut feeling rather than hard facts.
The perils of this approach are highlighted in a parallel survey of consumers conducted by FDMS, in which 66% of shoppers said that being targeted with offers that don't reflect their interests and needs is off-putting.
Clearly, improving customer knowledge should be a priority. Yet, gathering, noting and recording customer preferences is just the start. The next stage is to act on that knowledge and here, too, British businesses are falling short.
At Neopost, we see this all the time in the area of customer communications. How an organisation connects with its customers is just as important as message content. Some people will always prefer to receive statements, invoices, offers and promotions in digital form; others like the touch and feel of paper. Most favour different channels for different messages.
Finding out about the preferences of customers is the easy part. What's more difficult is consistently interacting with them in their preferred format, without error, duplication or delay. Some smaller businesses develop complex manual processes to achieve this, printing everything and then sorting output into separate piles for mailing or scanning and email.
Such work-arounds are limited, time-consuming, wasteful of paper and toner and completely impractical for organisations with many 100s or 1,000s of customers. They are also unnecessary.
Our award-winning output management solutions can automate the whole process so that messages are automatically sent in the format preferred by each customer. The range includes on-premise and cloud-based solutions to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, at every stage of digital transformation.
A particularly powerful solution for SMEs like those surveyed by FDMS is Neopost’s OMS-500 output management software solution, recently awarded an Editor's Choice award by Business Info, the workplace magazine for small and medium-sized businesses.
This web-based tool lets you send letters, invoices, statements and other transactional material, as well as marketing communications, via paper-based or digital channels as part of a single workflow, with archiving of all messages and a scheduler for campaign management.
In fact, automated distribution is just one element of what is a complete communications solution. The OMS-500 output management software solution can also be used to:
- personalise customer communications – another priority for businesses today – by adding text or varying inserts/attachments for each recipient;
- reduce costs by automatically processing mail to take maximum advantage of Royal Mail discounts for pre-sorted mail;
- batch print, sort and merge documents to maximise savings, for example by collating documents to the same recipient from multiple departments in the same envelope; and
- centralise the production of hard copy and digital communications right across an organisation including remote offices.
Business Info praised the OMS-500 output management software solution for its ability to maximise the impact of customer communications and add control, efficiency and flexibility to the mailing process. Crucially, by recording and respecting customer preferences, it also allows organisations to base their communication choices on hard facts and not gut feeling.
1. First Data Merchant Solutions. YouGov Business Survey/Consumer Survey, April 2015.