A revolutionary way to build customer loyalty and satisfaction
By Kevin Craine and Brad Banyas, Outsourced Management Inc.
Some time in the 1990’s things changed. It was once common to send letters and correspondence via traditional postal mail. Letters, bills and statements came in a daily delivery from the postman. But today, “snail mail” has given way to the Electronic Age. In 2011, most folks are much more likely to send an e-mail or connect on Facebook than they are to mail someone a letter.
As more and more consumers find that the snail’s pace of postal mail is insufficient and antiquated for their personal use they have grown to expect more from their business correspondence as well. We want relevant content, immediate access, and a feeling that the banks and credit unions that we do business with are in touch with our preferences and our lifestyle. More and more this means less and less paper.
Studies show a changing consumer demographic and a dramatic shift toward paperless correspondence – 52% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old, 80% of customers are more likely to bank online vs. visiting a branch in person, and a majority of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages online as opposed to other marketing channels like direct mail or advertising.
Are you still communicating with your customers and members using plain old paper? If so, now is the time to reevaluate how online correspondence can not only eliminate the burden of paper, but also give you the ability to communicate with your customers in a way that – in growing numbers – they tend to prefer. Save a tree? Sure. But, credit unions can realize even bigger benefit by viewing “the paperless revolution” in terms of a revolutionary way to build a new type of
customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Save a Tree, Save Some Money
You can save a lot of money by going online to communicate with your customers. Everyone knows postage rates have increased exponentially – nearly 30 percent since 2001; but did you know that despite the increasing digitization of business today, American corporations continue to eat up 46 million tons of paper every year? Forget about all those trees, think about all your paper-related costs. Postage, paper, printing, and mail processing all promise to be an increasing financial burden for credit unions without a strategy aimed at embracing paperless communication when possible.
It’s Not So Hard Being Green
Cost reductions help the bottom line, but joining the “paperless revolution” is also a tangible way to be environmentally conscious and get beneficial PR along the way. Many consumers have embraced living green – some 35 million Americans regularly buy products that claim to be earthfriendly – so organizations that “go green” with online correspondence become active participants in this popular sentiment in the marketplace. Let’s face it; everyone is concerned about two things these days – the environment and the economy. By migrating monthly statements, bills and other account related communications to the web you can do your part to help the environment while saving money at the same time.
Make the Most of your Monthly Appointment
The Postal Service estimates that U.S. households receive over 150 billion pieces of mail each year. With all this clutter, it’s no wonder that most people tend to open their mail over the waste basket. But unlike the majority of “junk mail” competing for our attention, monthly bills and customer statements rarely find their way into the trash. Analysts estimate that 95 percent of these transactional documents are opened and read. Since they require an action – assessing an account or paying the amount due, for example – monthly customer statements command and hold our undivided attention. That attention span – about 42 seconds – is over twice as long
that given to a television advertisement or an e-mail solicitation. This can represent a unique opportunity for credit unions to expand and extend each monthly
“appointment” to communicate and connect with customers in new and more profitable ways.
Customers expect more from business documents than we did just a few years ago. The era of staid and boring customer statements and bills has come to a close in a world of Wi-Fi, websites and hyperlinks. Customers want more choices and wider flexibility in terms of how we receive information and maintain our accounts, and payment options that eliminate paper and hand written checks. As a result, credit unions, banks and other financial institutions need to change to meet these evolving customer expectations. It’s not enough to simply port your paper statements to the website in a .PDF file. Consumers expect a more deeply relevant and more satisfying customer experience no matter how they interact with you; whether on paper, online or in person. You can benefit by revising the notion that limits transactional documents solely as a vehicle to get paid and instead start to regard bills and statements as a vehicle to bolster your customer relationships and emphasize an ability to adapt to changing customer expectations.
The Paperless Revolution
While the paperless office is far from a reality, moving from old school printing and mailing to modern online customer communications can save you money. But the advantage of going paperless is not only about saving money or simply being green. The full value extends beyond these fundamental advantages by giving you the ability to communicate with your customers in a way that more and more customers prefer. If you are still printing and mailing customer statements and business correspondence you are at risk of being left behind. The time has come for credit unions, banks and organizations of all types to get out of the 1990’s and take a closer look at the “paperless revolution” as a way to save money and build a new type of customer loyalty and satisfaction in 2011 and beyond.
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Kevin Craine is the author of the book “Designing a Document Strategy” and the host of the document strategy podcast
heard world wide. Visit www.document-strategy.com.
Brad Banyas is CEO and managing partner of Outsource Management, Inc., a leading managed communications
services provider. Visit www.outsourcemanagement.com.
© 2011 OUTSOURCE MANAGEMENT, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED