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May 1, 2011 12:00 AM
Consumers are taking more control than ever, dictating to businesses how they want to be communicated with, what they expect and how businesses can deliver. Delivering tips that your customers are looking for — before they even realize they are looking for it — is a great way to enhance your relationship. For many businesses, this can be achieved most effectively by educating and helping customers make smart choices. One of the easiest ways to do this is to leverage a tried and true communication vehicle, the transactional document. Monthly statements have begun to shift from a one-way static bill to a must-read communication vehicle as transpromo activities have recently increased. Once just a method of benchmarking consumer purchase activity, transpromo has expanded the use of transactional documents to promotional tools. Today, with precision marketing, there are new opportunities for companies to start educating their customers, using these customary communication devices. Precision marketing utilizes transpromo tactics and helps companies deliver the most relevant information to customer segments, enhancing customer engagement and education.
As printing technology has evolved, so have transactional documents. What was once a plain black-and-white statement mailed monthly to customers has transformed several times. Building on the effectiveness of transpromo, many organizations incorporated color to their transactional documents, helping them stand out and get noticed amid a slew of junk mail. Now, transactional documents are evolving again using other precision marketing techniques to help utilities and other industries move beyond a simple interaction to communications that provide useful information to help their customers.
Consumers are constantly seeking news and more information about services and products that will affect their lives. The best way to build a solid relationship with customers is to be the first to provide that information, and to become an educational resource. Consider the utility industry. The green movement has generated an increasing consumer desire for information about ways to reduce their carbon footprint (and their monthly bill), like learning more about Energy Star products, federal energy rebates and other money-saving ideas. To help educate consumers on these topics, utility companies can take advantage of their monthly statements to inform customers of their current energy usage, how to reduce that usage, and how to better understand their overall environmental impact. Utility companies can provide their customers with helpful tips and tricks that serve to educate them, allowing both the customers and they utility company to benefit from changed behaviors. Customers gain knowledge and information from a company they know and trust, while utility companies benefit from having smarter, more informed customers. (See www.gobeyondthemeter.com.)
Education is not limited to broad issues, but also can be tailored to enable a better understanding of individual customers' current services. For one utility company, the ability to better educate customers about their services and usage, as well as how to more easily read their statements, saved the company significant time and money in operating its call center. This large utility fielded high volumes of calls due to an outdated, hard-to-read bill. By redesigning the statement, the company was able to clearly identify individual usage by type, allowing customers to clearly find the information they needed, thus reducing expensive call center volume. The redesigned statement also reduced the amount of space required to communicate the same amount of information, providing the utility extra space for additional educational material.
By transforming transactional documents into educational tools, companies can improve customer relationships and increase loyalty by delivering relevant information to their customers. Proactively providing this information and better educating customers can help companies evolve from a simple service provider to a highly valued resource and partner.
Lee Gallagher is director of precision marketing and sales, and Jay Robinson is senior solutions consultant, professional services and sofware, for InfoPrint Solutions Co. (www.infoprint.com). Contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.infoprintsinsightsblog.com.