RR Donnelley's Global Document Solutions: Send a Clear Message - Mike Gordon

Customer communication is a company’s public face, yet it is rarely managed in a coordinated manner. As Mike Gordon of RR Donnelley's Global Document Solutions tells Jim Banks, partnering with a trusted third party could help companies control costs, improve retention and align customer communications with corporate strategy.

The success of any corporate strategy relies on attracting and retaining customers, yet companies often communicate with them in a fragmented way. A bank, for instance, that sends out a healthy statement to a customer on the same day as an offer for a personal loan is sending a subtle message that it does not fully understand their needs.

Many different parts of an organisation send out messages to customers, often in isolation. Marketing material may be entirely separate from transactional communications, and there is a risk that companies will trip up in the gap between silos.

‘Maximising both the efficiency and effectiveness of customer communications is a critical success factor, especially in this tough economic climate. Many organisations still manage their communications lifecycle in departmental silos,’ says Mike Gordon, managing director of RR Donnelley Global Document Solutions (UK and Ireland).

‘They may use a creative agency for design, different vendors for print management and transactional billing, and yet another to manage incoming correspondence. Consumers are unforgiving and it is easy to lose customers if the quality of communication is unsatisfactory. Once a customer is lost, it is difficult to win them back and the cost of attracting new customers can be prohibitive.’

Gordon believes that using a single vendor to manage the complete lifecycle of customer communications offers the efficiency that companies so badly need, while improving the effectiveness of the messages that go out.

‘Credit card application forms, for example, can be designed with inbound scanning requirements taken into account, which will reduce the time taken to open new accounts, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction. Many organisations understand that they can achieve this by optimising their customer communications, but in most cases their approach is fragmented,’ he says.

‘The ability to design outbound collateral while taking into account inbound processing requirements delivers increased productivity and can improve customer satisfaction.’ Adopting a holistic approach and implementing solutions such as Transpromo, which incorporates personalised marketing communications messages onto transactional documents, reduces direct marketing costs and can increase revenue through more effective cross-selling.

Technology, however, can only improve customer communications if cultural and organisational barriers are overcome, which is where specialist outsourcing vendors deliver real value.

Profiting through partnership

With the right service provider an organisation can align customer communications with corporate strategy. ‘If a strategic goal is to increase the average value of a customer, the marketing strategy must be designed to enhance cross-selling and reduce customer attrition,’ says Gordon.

‘It is no use a bank spending millions promoting a special offer if it is not ready to cope with a massive increase in inbound customer responses. Poor customer service results in lost revenue.’

Partnering with an outsourcing vendor also offers access to a mix of onshore and offshore service delivery that can be scaled to meet demand. For Daniel L Knotts, group president of RR Donnelley, the benefits of outsourcing are only met when a company is willing to enter a true partnership with its service provider.

‘Economic uncertainty often provides a catalyst for organisations to renew their focus on core competencies and to consider outsourcing more of their non - core operations. It also encourages a fresh evaluation of how to balance cost, quality, responsiveness and risk. As a result, the ability to leverage flexible outsourcing platforms either onshore, nearshore and/or offshore will become a key selection criterion. In addition, the growing maturity of outsourcing vendors, the enhancements to platforms – such as those undertaken by RR Donnelley – and a mutual willingness to embrace collaborative relationships will continue to drive the adoption of customer communications management outsourcing,’ he says.

As the vendor community and its clients mature in their approach, communications management outsourcing could well become the hot ticket in testing economic times.