EDP: Get Personal With Your Customers

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Many global companies already spend millions of dollars every year to ensure that the image they present to their customers accurately reflects their brand. Before undertaking a new marketing initiative, these companies typically employ focus groups and market testing procedures to make sure they are picking the right logo, colors, message and advertisements.

While these companies are scrupulous in making sure their marketing and advertising collateral are just right, ironically they fall short in that “last mile” of communication with their customers. Whether it’s a consumer invoice or a business-to-business purchase order, companies don’t fully appreciate the role these types of communication vehicles can play in building their image. For most companies, this represents an appalling missed opportunity to extend their brand to customer documents.

However, one compelling new technology is emerging to help businesses make that last mile of communication between company and customer payoff. The name of this new technology is Enterprise Document Presentment (EDP). The idea behind EDP is pretty basic, but the results can be most impressive. EDP enables the automated creation and presentment of enterprise documents in any format via any channel to customers, suppliers and business partners.

EDP is an enterprise application that provides companies with the means to personalize each communication based on the recipient profile and the data included in that specific document. Personalization goes beyond just the main document to also cover available inserts, which can be selectively limited to only those that are relevant to that customer at that time. Such unexpected attention to detail improves the customer experience; has a positive effect on the customer satisfaction; and is more likely to result in the broadening the customer relationship through up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.

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Sixty-eight percent of customers leave their current vendor because they feel as if the company doesn’t know who they are.

By streamlining the creation and distribution of enterprise documents, EDP shortens the time required to communicate personalized messages and new product offerings to customers. It also reduces cost by efficiently consolidating information into fewer documents and enabling a shift to electronic and mobile delivery. By doing this, firms have been able to use their customer-facing documents to increase the value of their client relationships, enhance customer loyalty, and reduce operating costs.

Improved infrastructure

EDP’s complementary capabilities also expand the usefulness of the existing infrastructure; in some cases even extending the lifespan of legacy systems that are otherwise unequipped to meet modern needs without requiring any change or replacement of current systems. In fact, one of the key attributes of EDP is its flexibility: An EDP solution can integrate with virtually all enterprise applications because it supports virtually all communication protocols and data formats.

EDP is not merely a “nice-to-have” solution. According to a recent report, 68 percent of customers leave their current vendor because they feel as if the company doesn’t know who they are. EDP enables companies to communicate in a personalized way that lets the customer know that not only are they are aware of them, but also they know them well enough to provide relevant, targeted product and service offers.

That’s why EDP technology is rapidly gaining the attention of marketing executives who are searching for new and better ways to connect with their customer base. In addition to dramatically reducing document costs—which can run as high as 15 percent of company revenue—EDP also enables companies to reinforce their branding with every customer document across every communication channel.

EDP in insurance

With 1.2 million customers, Agis is one of the five largest specialized healthcare insurers in the Netherlands. It recently enhanced its market presence by merging with three regional insurers. Agis was faced with the challenge of improving customer satisfaction and enhancing revenue by consolidating, standardizing and personalizing customer communications for the entire company.

The insurer uses EDP to generate 7 million to 8 million enterprise documents a year from its mainframe environment, including letters, invoices, policies and settlement specifications from the administrative systems. Its EDP solution lays out the document in conformance with the corporate style and processes it in a variety of file formats to distribute via printer, fax or email, depending on the customers’ wishes.

Agis used EDP to enable the newly merged units to produce and distribute personalized customer communications that maintain the company’s brand and style. The call center staff immediately experienced the advantages of EDP. Because all outgoing correspondence is automatically stored in the customer file, this provides staff with up-to-date customer account information. So the caller and the representative are looking at the same document, and duplicate invoices can be sent to customers immediately, resulting in faster completion of customer calls.

Agis’ decision to adopt EDP has been emphatically validated: Customer satisfaction has risen 21 percent, attributed largely to better designed, more customer-friendly documents; customer churn has been reduced by 80 percent, and the company has saved 200,000 euros annually on printing.

Personalization was a big issue in the ’90s, and it died for a time. But advances in technology—such as the advent of EDP—as well as the growing awareness that enhancing customer value is the lynchpin to growth have given the idea of one-to-one marketing a whole new life.

As chief marketing officer, [link to [email protected]] John L. Rueter oversees corporate marketing, product marketing, customer care and other related global marketing activities for the company. Previously, Rueter served as senior vice president of global marketing for Fast Search & Transfer.

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