Capitalizing on Real-Time, Personalized Customer Communications

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Companies rely on these touchpoints to build their brand, differentiate the customer experience, and drive revenue.

Every day, companies manage many types of customer communications, varying in format, content, and delivery channel, to conduct vital business transactions. These interactive, highly individualized, ad-hoc communications require real-time information and a human touch to be effective. Yet, this human touch introduces the potential for error-expensive mistakes that can have a negative impact on your bottom line.

With thousands of different document templates typically created for customer communications, the process is difficult to control. Companies now require more advanced interactive solutions to meet the growing demand from customers and business partners demanding faster, more accurate, and personalized customer service. Every industry battles growing document creation and management concerns, including:

  • Insurance: manage claims, policy holder correspondence, and underwriting documents.
  • Financial services: process thousands of change of addresses, account closures, credit card disputes, and mortgage applications.
  • Government: process high volumes of taxation letters, and Medicare/Medicaid and workman's compensation claims.
  • Telecommunications and energy: provide customer assistance through contact centers that process hundreds of interactive communications on a daily basis.

Why are interactive communications difficult to manage?

Interactive documents are unique because they require users to make decisions and provide real-time information as the document is unfolding. In other words, documents may be completed during the initial user interaction or they may be drafted over an extended period of time, and even collaborated on by multiple users. Often, the documents require review and approval before they are delivered to the intended recipient, adding processing time and cost requirements.

Many companies prepare interactive documents using standard word processing templates or via expensive host applications. This practice often results in confusion with hundreds of templates, created by multiple users, stored in different locations across the enterprise. Without centralized management and administration, it is nearly impossible to keep templates up-to-date and ensure branding or regulatory and legal compliance.

How can businesses overcome interactive communication challenges?

Businesses seeking a more efficient and cost-effective means of replacing hard-to-maintain legacy correspondence applications should consider interactive technology solutions that can offer the right amount of flexibility and control to reduce risk, boost efficiency, enhance customer service, and, ultimately, reduce costs. Concrete business benefits include:

  1. Enhance service and improve the customer experience. More intelligent personal interaction enables enterprises to differentiate the customer experience, improve customer loyalty, and increase market share. The ease of use and agility of an interactive solution is essential to ensuring the highest service level and most efficient customer response time.
  2. Increase process efficiency and reduce costs. By reducing document preparation time, your organization can more quickly and accurately respond to customer inquiries. Interactive document management solutions also reduce printing and mailing costs with centralized fulfillment, accumulated batch, and e-delivery of communications.
  3. Reduce the risk for error and ensure corporate compliance. Enforce consistent branding and style by storing templates in a shared repository that can be accessed and updated by all users across the enterprise. Business units can use the solutions to quickly and efficiently prepare tailored letters to customers that conform to legal and internal requirements for corporate communications.
  4. Cut costs with enterprise integration. Solutions with built-in document management, workflow, Web services, and optional archives ease integration with existing CRM, ERP, or ECM systems, allowing business users to share and access resources across the enterprise. A service-oriented architecture (SOA) also enables easy integration with data capture, data cleansing, mail efficiency, document composition, and content management services for a true end-to-end content solution.

Case in point

Serving more than 700,000 members over a 25-year history, a leading Northeast regional healthcare insurer had amassed more than 15,000 different document templates for business letters and customer correspondence. For customer service representatives (CSRs), determining which letter to send was a manually intensive, time-consuming process. CSRs also did not have the ability to view documents that were mailed to a policyholder-creating lengthy call times in the call center, in addition to compliance concerns.

The insurer implemented an integrated customer communication management solution to manage real-time interactive, on-demand, and batch communications enterprise-wide to overcome these challenges, enhance customer service, and reduce costs. CSRs now have the ability to easily create, manage, and deliver real-time personalized, interactive customer communications. By significantly reducing the number of templates, CSRs can now quickly and easily find the correct template, tailor the communication to the customer's specific needs, and deliver it via their preferred channel.In addition, document archive and retrieval now provides a single customer view. The result is faster, more efficient and cost-effective communications across the enterprise.

The bottom line is business results

Interactive communications is a key form of customer contact in our daily business lives. Companies are relying on these customer touchpoints to build their brand, differentiate the customer experience, and drive additional revenues. With the right interactive communication solution, companies can also reduce costs, minimize risk, and ensure a positive impact on the bottom line.

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About the Author: Lisa Sutrick is the director, customer communication management, product management, at Pitney Bowes Business Insight. Contact her at