Everyone knows the benefits of mailing equipment like franking machines and folder-inserters. Less well known is the impact that mailing software can have on the processing of both inbound and outbound mail. Here are 10 ways in which mailing software can help you streamline the production, distribution and management of outbound customer communications.
1. Cut postage and material costs by enhancing the address accuracy of databases and mailing lists.
Each year the Royal Mail National Returns Centre in Belfast receives 15 million 'undeliverables' that Royal Mail is unable to deliver because an address is incomplete, incorrect or no longer current – every day 16,480 UK residents move, thousands of businesses change address and roughly 2,000 people pass away.
Businesses that fail to address letters correctly are wasting more than the price of a stamp. There is also the cost of paper, print, postage and labour to consider, as well as hard-to-quantify factors, such as business reputation and customer satisfaction, that could be affected if documents are not sent out when expected or are sent to the wrong address.
The simplest way to make sure this doesn't happen is to keep address lists clean and up-to-date using addressing software that standardises addresses to meet Royal Mail guidelines and provides regular updates of deaths and ‘gone-aways’.
More advanced solutions can be used to de-duplicate address lists and ensure compliance with do-not-mail requirements.
And remember: not all undeliverables are the fault of the sender. Print a return address on your mail and Royal Mail will return it to you so that you can update your records when a contact changes address without telling you.
2. Validate contact information at point of capture so that telephone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses are correctly formatted for future use
Addressing software helps keep address lists clean retrospectively, but what can you do to ensure that contact details are taken down correctly in the first place?
Capturing phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses – whether face-to-face, over the phone or online – is time-consuming and often results in the recording of incomplete or inaccurate information that may not become apparent until later when undeliverables are returned by Royal Mail.
A solution like Satori Capture from Neopost ensures that contact details are captured accurately first time by validating addresses against Royal Mail Postal Address Files (PAF) and by making sure that they conform to Royal Mail addressing formats.
By presenting address options as each element is typed, Satori Capture speeds up data entry and enables whole addresses to be entered with fewer keystrokes. In some cases all that's needed is a postcode or postcode plus house number.
In the case of email addresses, the software can flag up any that don't conform to standard addressing conventions enabling them to be verified at point of capture.
3. Securely send and automatically archive important documents like invoices via digital mail
Businesses today communicate via hard copy and electronic channels. The use of digital alternatives to paper can boost productivity and save money on printing and postage, but it can also lead to process duplication and information silos.
Output management software like Neopost OMS-500 or Neopreference overcomes these risks by integrating digital and postal communications in a unified workflow.
Once a document has been created it can be distributed via multiple channels, including mail and email, and archived as part of the same process. This ensures that you have a complete record of all digital and hard copy customer communications accessible at any time with a simple mouse click.
4. Improve campaign ROI by personalising mailings with names and varied messages or content
Instead of sending the same message to everyone on your mailing list, why not personalise greetings, message content and offers to reflect each customer's interests or purchasing history.
Analysis of 500 digital printing case studies by Caslon & Company, The 1-to-1 Response Rate Report (2012), shows that personalising communications and relevance can deliver four times as many responses as static, uniform messaging, in some cases generating response rates of 15% or more.
Even something as simple as printing the recipient's name on an envelope can significantly increase response levels. Alternatively, you could use variable data printing software to personalise greetings and messages on pre-printed mailers, or vary envelope insertions for each individual customer (see No. 7).
5. Increase customer satisfaction by co-ordinating communications via mail, email and SMS to meet individual preferences
For even better results, why not extend personalisation to the medium as well as the message. Consumers are more likely to respond favourably to communications if they are delivered via their preferred medium, be that the phone, mail, email or mobile. You could even schedule distribution so that prospects receive messages at their preferred time.
Neopost OMS-500 multi-channel output management software lets you create a document and send it via a variety of channels. You can limit distribution to each customer's preferred medium, or send a message via multiple channels to improve its chances of being seen.
The latter is particularly effective for marketing campaigns. A 2009 InfoTrends study, Multi-Channel Communications Measurement and Benchmarking, found that multi-channel campaigns using print, email and web landing pages were 35% more effective than print-only campaigns.
6. Design and produce attractive, well laid out and brand-compliant documents across your organisation
Brand consistency is a key component of good communications. Traditionally, this has been achieved through the use of pre-printed stationery and forms.
Nowadays, it is more economical to create documents electronically and print them on demand or distribute them in digital form. This provides welcome flexibility, but can make it harder to maintain a consistent corporate identity.
Which is where a solution like Neopost PrintMachine can help.
This powerful output management solution lets you create pre-formatted templates for invoices, statements, payslips and other documents and achieve brand consistency across all document types. It also saves the expense, waste and inconvenience of pre-printed forms that have to be stored on-site and thrown away when they become out-of-date.
7. Stop sensitive personal information going astray by avoiding human error in collating envelope content
Manual processes are time-consuming and prone to error – a minor consideration if all you are doing is sending the same document to everyone on a mailing list, but problematic if you vary the content for different people. Clearly, the more sensitive the information, the more important it is to ensure that everyone gets the material intended.
Folder-inserters don't just speed up the collation and insertion of multiple documents into envelopes, they also have intelligence that allows them to read optical marks and barcodes applied to printed output, including instructions on what insert to include with a letter.
A solution like Neopost's OMS-100 output management software can apply machine-readable marks to letters, enabling folder-inserters to vary insertions on the fly, with no loss of productivity and none of the errors that would inevitably occur if folding/insertion was done by hand.
8. Save staff time spent manually collating content for envelopes
The combination of OMS-100 output management software and Neopost folder-inserters is a real time-saver that also enables users to be more creative in their communications.
An entry-level folder-inserter can automatically fold and insert letters into envelopes and seal them ready for postage at least 13 times faster than by hand. The time-savings are even greater on faster machines with multiple feeding stations – and greater still when using software to personalise insertions.
9. Access additional Royal Mail discounts for correctly formatted and batched mail
Royal Mail offers a range of discounts that increase in scale according to the level of sorting done by the customer. Mailing software like Neopost Bulk Mailer lets you maximise postal savings by pre-sorting mail and generating all the necessary postal documentation, reports and postage statements.
10. Centralise mail production and distribution to improve efficiency and quality
Further savings can be achieved by centralising mailing processes for multiple departments, branch offices and remote workers. This will enable you to process mail using the most productive equipment, maximise Royal Mail volume discounts and take advantage of clever cost-saving features, such as Print Machine's ability to group letters to the same address and send them in a single envelope.
Neopost Mail Accounting Software extends the benefits of centralisation to mail accounting. This includes the ability to collect and analyse data from franking machines in multiple locations, giving you enterprise-wide visibility and control of mailing expenditure.
To find out how Neopost software can help you save money and be more productive, please call us on 0800 731 1334.
Software brings huge benefits to all areas of business operations, including document management and deliveries. Here, we highlight 10 ways in which software can transform the efficiency with which you handle and process incoming mail, packages and documents.
1. Scan paper documents into digital to allow quicker internal distribution and faster response to customers
Imaging and document management software that converts paper-based documents into digital formats that can be stored and distributed electronically is widely used in modern businesses to eliminate the inefficiencies of paper. In particular, scanning speeds up the distribution of important files and enables staff to respond more quickly to customer queries. The advantages of scanning can be maximised by opening incoming mail and digitising envelope contents in a digital mailroom. Centralised scanning speeds up the distribution of the morning post and saves highly paid knowledge workers from having to scan items themselves on slower departmental devices.
2. Cut storage space or off-site storage costs by digitising documents
In addition to streamlining business processes, electronic document management software lets you reduce the amount of paper circulating around your offices. One Neopost customer, the London Borough of Hackney, has freed up £7 million of floor space by digitising its paper archives, but even small organisations have much to gain. Space that was once taken up by rows of filing cabinets can be used more productively for additional desking, meeting rooms or staff relaxation zones. Electronic document management should also reduce your off-site storage requirements, as paper-less working becomes part of the corporate culture.
3. Reduce time required to archive and retrieve documents
Digital documents are quicker and easier to file and retrieve than paper files. Instead of having to walk to a filing cabinet or archive and file a document manually, a solution like the Neopost IMW-20 lets you index and file documents at your desk. Scans can be stored alongside computer-generated files in an integrated database, giving a complete view of a customer relationship for improved customer service and faster resolution of queries. Retrieval is just as straightforward. Unlike paper documents, multiple users can access the same document, from anywhere in the world, and even if an electronic document is misfiled, you may still be able to find it by conducting a full text search for keywords.
4. Process digitised documents in a managed workflow via remote terminals
The use of imaging and document management software lets you speed up common business processes by creating 100% digital workflows that can be undertaken by employees separated by hundreds and thousands of miles. As the whole process is paperless, staff no longer have to be located in the same office or even the same time-zone. Neopost's IMW-20 all-in-one document management system comes with two workflows built-in. One is for the quick and easy distribution of incoming mail to individual recipients' inboxes, with email alerts, and the other is for the indexing, storage and validation of invoices for streamlined payment processing.
5. Extract key information from documents and emails for automated on-line processing
Optical character recognition (OCR) software speeds up processing and reduces the need for manual data entry by automatically recognising and extracting key information from electronic documents, such as scanned images and email. The software's ability to identify an account name or invoice number minimises the need for human involvement in a process. The most advanced solutions have the intelligence to find relevant information in freeform documents that don't conform to a standard design, reducing the number of exceptions that require further processing by a supervisor.
6. Quickly log, track and report the delivery status of packages and important documents by using hand held scanners
Everyone knows the frustrations of waiting for an important package, including the nagging fear that an item has already arrived but no one has bothered to alert you. Automated parcel receiving software like neoTrak Touch dispels these fears, enabling you to concentrate on other tasks while waiting for a parcel to arrive. Utilising a handheld scanner, PDA and supporting software, neoTrak logs the receipt of a parcel or package and then tracks its progress through an organisation, including the recording of any signatures, until it is delivered to the intended recipient. You can even send an email to alert the recipient as soon as an item is received. This provides a useful audit trail, while also highlighting delays and bottlenecks in delivery systems.
7. Reduce manual logging procedures
The qualities that make neoTrak so useful for parcel tracking also apply to the internal movement of valuable assets, such as important documents, computers and office supplies. By automatically logging, tracking and tracing items, the system remove the need to keep manual records that take time to assemble and can be difficult to maintain.
8. Quickly process undeliverable mail so that customer records are kept up to date and wasted mailings are reduced
One of the many benefits of franking machines is that Royal Mail will return undeliverable items with a record of why they couldn't be delivered, such as addressee gone away or incomplete address. This provides businesses with valuable information that can be used to update contact lists and eliminate waste from future mailings. Often, envelopes pile up because no one has the time to input information manually. With Neopost Returned Mail Manager (RMM-100) you won't have to. This clever solution applies a unique identifier, such as a 2D barcode, to the address field of outgoing mail. If a mailpiece is returned you just need to scan the barcode with a handheld scanner and then enter the reason for non-delivery by scanning the appropriate barcode on the Reason Returned master sheet. Data can be exported to other applications, such as ERP and CRM, so that your records can be kept up to date.
9. Record marketing campaign responses for analysis
Logging incoming mail is not just a good way of keeping mailing records up-to-date. RMM-100 also lets you gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by logging returned coupons, remittances, reply cards etc. and analysing responses by region, customer type and other criteria. The same system can also be used to track and record the receipt of critical documents.
10. Last but not least, all software has useful reporting functions that enable you to monitor, track and oversee performance. As well as giving visibility of document and mail handling processes within your business, reporting features provide audit trails – useful in case of dispute – and valuable insight into business performance, from the effectiveness of individual marketing campaigns to the quality of customer contact lists. Above all, by highlighting process inefficiencies, software enables you to adopt a culture of continuous improvement and continually refine your mailing and document workflows.
To find out how Neopost software can help you save money and be more productive, please call us on 0800 731 1334.