Tripartum: Putting trust back into customer communication
Clarity of information supports the whole ethos behind the mutual society, where ‘trust’ is the cornerstone of the customer relationship. Documents through the post in all shapes and sizes have been at the core of communicating with customers for centuries and, notwithstanding the rapid advances in technology, still continue to play an important role. This is despite the push by many organisations, typically utilities and banks, to persuade us to accept bills and statements electronically. Their approach has changed to the extent that they now charge customers for the privilege of receiving a physical document, even if they have no other means of receiving one.
What does this mean for Mutual Societies?
It means that they need to be much smarter with the documents they send whether they be physical or electronic. For many, sending physical statements is perceived as a necessary evil of doing business, also necessitated by regulatory requirements. In today’s technological society, where information is at our fingertips 24/7, we are in ‘information overload’, bombarded with thousands of messages each day across multiple media channels. The problem with this is that we find it harder to differentiate between those messages that are important to us, and those where we are expected to take some form of action that could make a difference. Whilst internet and social media technology provide a lower cost and more immediate communication we are more likely to miss an email than we are to overlook an envelope on the doormat!
Delivering a statement, whether it is monthly or annually, should still be seen as an important event; it is a document that will be opened by the recipient because they see the sender as a ‘trusted’ party. There is still an emotional attachment to receiving something through the post that cannot be achieved with electronic delivery. Market research tells us that once the envelope has been opened, the way the information is presented is the beginning of the relationship and, therefore, that ‘first impression’ is so important. The reader is directed to the key relevant information along with any necessary action required. All too often today, information is simply ‘dumped’ on a page because it is delivered from the back-office system and stuffed into an envelope with multiple inserts. The information in the document often cross-references parts of the content of the inserts, making it a challenge for the recipient to understand how it all relates and what it means to them. There is very little thought given to the use of the document or the management of the space to present information effectively.
Customer documents can make a difference
A recent exercise carried out for a mutual society has radically changed the way they communicate with its customers through annual bonus statements. It has moved away from the traditional mono-printed on pre-printed paper A4 loose pages and envelopes with pre-printed generic inserts. Instead, it produces a single A5 booklet containing all the personalised information for the individual customer, including the relevant content from what would previously have been delivered via the inserts. The information has been structured into layers, with the opening page a letter from the Chief Executive, followed by the Contents page. There is the Summary for those who simply want to know their financial standing, followed by the specific products invested in and their allocation. The Frequently Asked Questions part now contains only those sections that relate to the products the customer has taken. The whole document is produced in colour to aid the visual navigation throughout. As with many booklet publications, where you need to have pages in multiples of four, there may be blank pages available. These have been populated with variable text and image ‘information marketing’ messages to promote the customer web portal, which offers further details and information.
The benefits to the customer are:
- All information readily to hand in one place.
- All information contained in a single-stitched booklet, which is easily filed.
- Information is clear and simple to follow.
The benefits to the business are:
- A more cost-effective, end-to-end delivery process.
- Changes in process, making it easier to manage amendments.
- Reduced lead-time for providing information that was previously a pre-printed insert.
- A simplified message, with all information in one combined document instead of several documents and loose pages.
- Simplifying the management of the end-to-end process, with better control over delivery and content.
The process of change is always a daunting one for any organisation, especially where it involves something so highly visible to customers. Identifying business requirements, and gaining a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved, can deliver an effective solution. Strong project management can help alleviate the concerns around change. So much is possible with digital technology today that it just needs someone to provide the enlightenment and vision to help organisations reengineer their customer facing documents and demonstrate how they understand and support the customer’s needs.
About TriPartum Limited – specialists in developing strong customer document communications solutions utilising digital technologies. Over 75-years’ experience in managing end-to-end process solutions from data through to customer delivery.
James Shand, Managing Director, TriPartum Limited
0207 186 0052
07785 372 793
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