Harry’s Corner – Here We Go Again – “6-2-5” is Back

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
June 19, 2017

In my experience, few things are more true than the fact that knowing you need to do something—and then actually doing it—are two very different things. There is perhaps no better example of this than the longstanding (and ongoing) conversation about the financial difficulties of the U.S. Postal Service and what to do about them.

I read two articles on the subject in the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal this past month, reporting that the latest entrant into this often controversial conversation is President Trump, by way of his 2018 budget plan. The plan leaves the door open for reducing the current six-day mail delivery “where there is a business case for doing so.”  You can expect that if this proposal materializes it will be met with upset, just as it did when then Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe attempted to unilaterally end Saturday mail delivery in 2013. That attempt stirred up strong resistance from members of Congress and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, among others, and ultimately failed. Since then, proposals to address the Postal Service’s financial woes have not included reducing delivery.

Back in 2008, I floated the idea in this column of eliminating Wednesday delivery, recognizing that direct mailers prize Saturday delivery, when most of us are at home and have more time to look at our mail. Then in 2009, I wrote another column urging the need to take a hard look at eliminating Saturday delivery, and to step forward and propose other cost-cutting ideas if you have them.  Mail is important to all of us for many different reasons, so I am sure reducing mail delivery is still a difficult pill for many to swallow. However, I continue to maintain it may be a necessary step to help end the financial struggles of the USPS, which have been a problem for more than a decade now. We need to accept that we are going to have to reach a compromise somewhere. Corporate enterprises as well as postal customers, especially rural America, may have to give up something to keep postage rates affordable.

We all know that having a difficult problem to solve can be overwhelming and even paralyzing. But even taking small steps can make a difference. It reminds me of a story I like about a little boy on a beach littered with washed-up starfish. As the boy was throwing them back in the water one by one, a man came up to him and said, “Son, what are you doing? There are thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy picked up a starfish and threw it in the water and replied, “It made a difference to that one!”

Of course, eliminating one day of mail delivery—whether that day is Wednesday or Saturday or another option—won’t solve all the financial concerns of the USPS. But when you consider that it will take carriers off the road for one day a week, and the savings that will be realized in terms of labor costs, gas and truck maintenance, it will certainly make a difference. And for that reason alone, I think it is worth talking about again.

My fundamental point has been and still is this: The financial viability of the USPS isn’t just the USPS’ issue to solve. It is an issue for everyone who relies on the mail, whether for business or personally. It is our issue, and I think the one thing we can agree on is that something needs to be done to address it. The problem is that actually doing something, as we all know, is a very different thing.

Until next time – Harry

Harry Stephens


Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Board Member of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC), Member of Major Mailers Association(MMA), and member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service.  He is also immediate past president of the Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Print/Mail Service Bureaus.  As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups, including the Board of Governors, about postal reform and other issues affecting business mailers.  Find more information about DATAMATX at www.datamatx.com

OpenText Exstream, Digital Transformation and Customer Communications Management

An Interview with OpenText Exstream, Senior Manager of Product Strategy
By: Skip Henk, EDP – CEO of Xplor International

Last year Open Text Corp. acquired certain customer-communications management assets from HP Inc., an acquisition that certainly expanded and complemented the OpenText portfolio of software offerings.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I wanted to catch up with Avi Greenfield, EDP – Senior Manager of Product Strategy, to discuss his views about digital transformation and Customer Communications from an OpenText Exstream point of view.

Avi, a 20 year industry veteran, is focused on technology solutions that build business value, focusing on customer communications and content management strategy. As I mentioned he is a Senior Manager of Product Strategy for OpenText Exstream, responsible for understanding the needs of customers for managing business-critical communications in complex and demanding environments, and driving the direction of the Exstream portfolio to meet those needs.

Avi received his Electronic Document Professional (EDP) certification in 2012.


Skip: Avi, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts today.

Avi: You are welcome; we appreciate Xplor allowing us the opportunity.

Skip: For our readers who are not familiar with OpenText Exstream, can you give us your 15 second   elevator pitch?

Avi: OpenText Exstream offers the fastest, most reliable communications production engine to enable

digital transformation for companies. Exstream helps companies in a range of industries and sizes optimize customer engagement through the design and delivery of personalized, consistent, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications for better customer experiences across all channels. The latest version includes capabilities that enable users to create responsive, mobile-ready content; generate robust, interactive charts; perform controlled in-context editing; and better handle PDFs.

Skip: There is a lot in the media now about “digital transformation” and “digital business/digital economy” – what does that mean to OpenText and why is it important? 

Avi:  With 50% of the workforce expected to be made up of those who were “born digital” by 2020, digital communications are becoming more and more important and many companies are looking to move to a digital business model. A recent Gartner report states that 89% of companies will compete on customer experience and 90% of CEOs place CX as one of their top three priorities, so companies will need to be able to provide exceptional customer experiences across multiple channels to stay competitive in the future.

The Millennial generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and they have more than one trillion dollars in purchasing power. Companies need to adapt their customer communications to appeal to this highly digital and technologically advanced group. Digital transformation of your business will be critical and is much more than being able to send email or PDFs because these consumers want much more engaging experiences and access to their brands 24/7. They have the highest adoption and usage of mobile devices of any generation, and they navigate seamlessly between devices and channels, which means they expect relevant and consistent content, experiences and branding across all channels.

Skip: What is the impact of digital transformation on CCM?

Avi:  We see it driving a lot of demand for modern CCM capabilities. Digital transformation means rethinking business processes to meet consumer demand for frictionless multichannel interactions. This frequently means updating or replacing core systems of record and systems and engagement like CRM, billing, customer care, and claims for example. Most organizations already have multiple systems that are used to produce and deliver traditional and digital communications. So when they update those core systems, it’s a great time to consider whether their current CCM tools and processes are able to serve all of their enterprise needs for engaging customers in a way puts them at the center and gives them the freedom to engage using the channels and devices of their choice. We see this leading to increased investment in enterprise-grade CCM tools and also increased focus and organizational resources dedicated to producing and delivering timely, relevant, compliant communications.

Skip: Given these changes, and a shift to digital documents and communications, what steps can people take right now to take advantage of this?

Avi: In the digital age, it is critical for your company to move from traditional paper-based documents to engaging conversations across all channels. By delivering communications in the channels preferred by your customers and designing with digital in mind, you can turn your communications into a differentiator.

Your communications should use clear and concise language and be compliant, accurate, and controlled. All this requires synchronizing the right data with CCM software and the business processes that intersect with customer touchpoints.

Communications—whether traditional or digital—are the primary customer touchpoint for most organizations. The quality, timeliness, and accuracy of those communications have a huge impact on the consumer’s perception of your company. And the quality of a customer’s experience is the single greatest predictor of whether they will return and promote your company or defect to a competitor and malign it.

The design of any communication is important and can either drive desired behaviors, additional revenue or loyalty if done well. If not, it can undermine customer experience and create expensive call center inquiries. As far as best practices, five key things to consider when designing any communication are:

  1. Design for understanding – What do you want recipients to understand?
  2. Design to drive action – What do you want recipients to do or not do?
  3. Design for digital first, but don’t neglect traditional channels – Do recipients have a seamless cross-channel experience?
  4. Design to align business user profile with the business process – How do you involve business users? Do they own content and messages? Can they help personalize communications for the front office?
  5. Design customer-centric communications from the outside-in – What do you do to modernize your processes and systems of interaction to deliver on consumer expectations for seamless cross-channel interactions?

Skip: Those are five great points. Do you believe the investment in CCM worth it?

Avi: Not only is it worth it, but it is essential to positive business outcomes. Providing a better customer experience is shown to increase loyalty and lifetime customer value and can be a key source of competitive differentiation. Delivering interactions that are clear, timely, and easy to understand leads to higher customer satisfaction.

So there are many pressures and expectations on customer communications. Companies must respond quickly to changing markets and circumstances, while providing consistent, high-quality communications in the recipient’s language and preferred delivery channel.

There is also a critical need to maintain compliance and control over communications for legal and regulatory reasons. At the same time, business users are demanding more control over the content and faster time to market. And of course operational requirements demand timely, optimized output at the lowest possible cost. So having an enterprise CCM platform with the right organizational commitment and resources dedicated to it is essential to increasing profitability, improving customer experience, and mitigating risk.

Skip: Avi, I once again thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and sharing your insights. Anyone who would like more information can contact OpenText here.

About OpenText Exstream
Exstream is a multichannel customer communication management (CCM) solution that is proven to improve the customer experience and make customer interactions more profitable. It allows business users to create the communications for connected customer journeys using the delivery formats and channels customers prefer – including email, web and mobile.

This software solution powers the transformation of all of your data—whatever file sources, formats, and systems you use—into relevant and insightful customer communications. With on-premise and cloud deployment options, Exstream is scalable to fit the needs of any department or complex enterprise environment. Design and deliver consistent, personalized, compliant, anytime, anywhere communications with Exstream.


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Harry’s Corner – 47-47-6 Unintended Consequences

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
November 21, 2016

We held our annual INg meeting at Orlando in conjunction with this year’s Graph Expo in September. One of the speakers at our meeting was a labor attorney and among the many things he spoke to us about was the upcoming Overtime Rule. For those of you that may not know specific details on this new rule, starting on December 1 2016, the salary threshold to avoid paying overtime will move to $913 per week (an annual salary of $47,476) from the current $455 per week.  Right now, hourly workers, lower-wage earners and non-managerial workers must be paid 1.5 times their hourly wage when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the new rule, an estimated 4.2 million workers, including those on salary, will be eligible for overtime.

On November 10th, at the Fall Board of Director’s meeting for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, where I am on the board, the issue came up again. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce represents the unified voice of Georgia’s business community with the motto “What’s good for business is good for Georgia” driving its policy and legislative direction to ensure the future of economic mobility for all Georgians. So it makes sense that business and job creation are always a focus. I brought up this impending Overtime Rule at the meeting, encouraging both the local and national Chamber of Commerce to vocally oppose this type of job creation loss initiative as it will certainly have unintended consequences, hurting the people it intended to help.

For example, in lower-paid jobs where the minimum wage is also increasing, employers are put in the difficult situation of having middle managers making considerably less per working hour than new hires. Think of the restaurant industry where wages may be lower, hours are long and profit margins very thin. While this rule is meant to increase take-home pay, these changes may limit employment and advancement opportunities in this industry and others like it. Another good example—college graduates looking for their first job.  An employer will certainly have to think twice about hiring an inexperienced worker who needs time to “learn on the job” for an annual salary of $47,476.00 or unbudgeted overtime. Jobs are hard enough to get when you don’t have the right experience. This rule will make it even more difficult. Unintended consequences. Hurting the people it intended to help.

For every business, this rule causes a number of consequences as well, particularly when it comes to payroll. We essentially have two choices. If the increased salary threshold creates newly non-exempt employees to stay compliant, we need to either pay employees higher salaries, or pay overtime wages.

In preparation, classifying employees correctly as to whether they are exempt or non-exempt will be extremely important, particularly if you are in a business that has peaks in productivity at times that require employees to work longer hours, like month end or holidays. Because of this, I recommend checking out the Department of Labor or your state’s wage enforcement agency to get the exact requirements. The last thing a business needs is unexpected financial or legal consequences for not clearly stating an employee’s classification, entitlement to overtime and tracking of such.

It will also be important to have clear communication with employees about record keeping. For some who have been proud of being a “white collar worker” now required to keep track of time, this can be difficult. Explaining the rule and how it will affect them and your business will ease any misconceptions they may have about any changes in job description or pay.

Oh, and another piece of “good news.”  The minimum salary threshold will automatically increase every three years based on wage growth. The first automatic increase will happen on Jan. 1, 2020, which means more employees will become exempt as the threshold rises. Now, if you think you are in the clear because you are a small business, I have more “good news.” The Department of Labor FAQ fact sheet does say that “the proposed rule [applies] to employees of enterprises that have an annual gross volume of sales made or business done of $500,000 or more, and certain other businesses.” Ok. If your business makes less than $500,000 of annual revenue, is it exempt? It appears the answer is still no. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), individual employees may still be “covered in any workweek when they are individually engaged in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or an activity that is closely related and directly essential to the production of such goods.”  Like I said earlier – research the information on the Department of Labor’s website or your state’s wage enforcement agency to get the exact requirements of the ruling.

There is no way around the fact that this ruling is bad for business—especially small to medium businesses that have a hard enough time growing their businesses as it is. We need dedicated employees who consider themselves professionals and want to work the long hours often needed to get ahead and grow in their profession. Employers will now have a hard time giving them that choice. Instead of benefiting workers, the rule takes away flexible schedules and maybe even certain career pursuits. For businesses, it places yet another financial burden to manage. Perfect examples of unintended consequences hurting the people it intended to help.

Until next time – Harry

Harry Stephens


Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. He has been active in the Atlanta business community for over 40 years in various professional and trade organizations, most recently as a board member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.  As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations.  He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council,  Board Member of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC), Member of Major Mailers Association(MMA), and member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service.  He is also immediate past president of the Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Print/Mail Service Bureaus.  As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups, including the Board of Governors, about postal reform and other issues affecting business mailers.  Find DATAMATX at www.datamatx.com

 

The importance of the customer experience when it comes to your proof of delivery process

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
October 12, 2016

Building your customer base involves a lot of money and effort. Once you’ve attracted new customers, it’s wise to do everything you can to keep them happy and committed over the long term so that your investment was worthwhile.

If you focus your efforts mainly on getting new customers and neglect to give your current ones a special experience, you’re actually working for your competitor, who is providing a more exclusive customer experience and doing everything possible to win their loyalty.

That said, you have a golden opportunity when delivering products to interact with your customers and make the experience positive for them. The goal is to make them want to continue buying your products, and even to recommend you to others in their network. In fact, this is one of the only chances you’ll get to meet them in person and interact directly. Why not take the opportunity to wow them?

Provide quality service to maintain customers
By providing your delivery persons with a tablet to manage delivery notes, you can impress your customers by asking them not only to sign the delivery note directly on the mobile device (rather than signing a piece of paper), but by allowing them to change the quantities they received in real time. They can even add visual proof of a damaged package, and the delivery person can specify the location information to confirm that the product was delivered to the place the customer had indicated. Then it just takes a click to send the proof of delivery to the office and to email it to the customer.

Be proactive in earning customer loyalty
Since the delivery note gets to the office faster, your staff can be proactive in addressing problems. If a parcel is damaged, the office clerk will immediately receive the proof of damage and can quickly contact the customer to apologize and offer an alternative. When paper is used, it can take 24 to 48 hours, or longer, before the customer gets any news about the damaged product. But in the former case, the customer hardly has any time to get upset. With an automated digital process, customers can’t help but notice how proactive you are in dealing with such incidents.

In addition, since data entry is no longer done by hand, the data is more reliable and the billing can be done seamlessly. Not only will your customers pay faster, since nothing needs to be changed on the invoice, but there’ll be less risk of receiving complaints.

Get closer to reaching your productivity, operational efficiency and customer experience objectives one step at a time!


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

Automating the steps in a standard purchasing process to improve customer experience

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
September 29, 2016

Purchasing one of your products or services is only one of the steps in a more complex customer journey. By the time your customers get to the payment stage, they will have gone through many other crucial stages during which they also interacted with your company. Furthermore, following a purchase, the journey continues because if you want to build customer loyalty or have customers make another purchase, you have to keep in touch with them.  So the journey begins with the discovery of your brand and continues with the order, payment and delivery, not to mention the after-sales service, if required.

All of these steps are just as important in order to build customer loyalty and turn your customers into ambassadors of your products and services.

Managing them, however, can be complex and often involve many small and tedious manual tasks. By automating the most essential processes, you could save a lot of time and gain your customers’ trust by offering them a better experience when dealing with your company.

Here are a few steps in a standard customer journey which you can easily automate.

Communications with potential customers
Sales cycles are often long. Prospecting is a complex task. It takes months to strengthen ties with your network and in order to do so, you need to provide high-quality content to potential customers.

Accounts opening
The creation of new accounts is a defining moment in the customer-company relationship. But if this step is made even more complex by the excessive use of paper or tedious manual data entry by your employees, it can be frustrating for potential customers.

Order-taking
Managing purchase orders often requires scanning piles upon piles of documents every day. Employees have to manually enter numerous data to launch the subsequent phases of the process. This causes many delays and orders can sometimes take several days before being confirmed!

Deliveries
When delivering the products to your customers, you have a golden opportunity to interact with them and ensure that their experience is a good one.

Invoicing
Did you know that transactional messages are 8 times more likely to be opened than other types of communications? This is therefore a great opportunity for you to communicate with your customers.

Document management
According to the Institute of Financial Operations, 43% of organizations say that being unable to find the right data in their different customer files remains their greatest issue where after-sales services are concerned. When Customer Service wants to respond to a request, it often wastes valuable time trying to put the information together, or simply even finding the information!

Get closer to reaching your productivity, operational efficiency and customer experience objectives one step at a time!


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

Providing a more relevant customer experience

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
August 3, 2016

Do you dream of flexibility when communicating with your customers? Do you want to offer a better customer experience? Are your organization’s systems too inflexible, keeping you from using all the data you need to provide superior service to your customers?

More than ever, organizations are being asked to make dramatic changes to how they communicate with their end clients. There are many occasions for communicating with your customers: welcome messages, invoices, orders, confirmation of payment or invitations to evaluate the services.

Consumers have high expectations and demand personalized, relevant communications. They no longer want multi-page transactional records that do not take their uniqueness into account or highlight the relationship they have with you. Personally, I hate receiving useless paperwork. I don’t want to feel like just another number, and I will always choose a company that offers me service that looks like me.

This is a huge issue today. Organizations that do not make the effort to optimize customer communications are going to quickly lose their clientele to competitors that have been able to get onboard sooner.

So, to keep your customers, your communications have to be responsive. And to do that, you have to be able to quickly and easily modify the documents you send them, based on their purchasing history, geographic location, or marketing campaigns in progress.

In addition to wanting to satisfy your customers, you have to fulfill numerous legal requirements related to transactional records. You have to add specific phrases to comply with a new law or modify certain segments of the invoice in accordance with more stringent laws in a country where you have a subsidiary. In these cases, you have to know how to respond quickly to comply and you really have no choice.

So what to do?

Take back control of your templates by modifying them in a tool specifically intended for document design. The design tool should give you access to advanced functions for personalizing your documents and give you greater flexibility when you want to modify them.

But obviously, you don’t want to get rid of the old templates created using your ERP system and start completely from scratch.

There are now business document composition tools that go beyond mere design. Getting a tool that functions like a middleware system and regenerates the old templates into something more dynamic and modern, will give you greater flexibility. You will not lose your old templates – you’ll improve them. You’ll make them relevant, customizable and interactive.

In addition, you will be able to take advantage of them to move to multi-source communications. A good tool will enable you to easily send your documents using various means. But to smoothly make the switch to digital, you can refer to my advice in my previous note.


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

Why is it so difficult to switch to digital?

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
July 20, 2016

According to IDC, a market research firm, by the end of 2017, two-thirds of the 2000 largest companies (ranked by Forbes magazine) will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy. Most already see digital transformation as a must. Moreover, 55% of those organizations feel the urgency to act within the year, at the risk of falling behind their competitors.

However, few of them have already completed the conversion. In fact, some have hardly begun.

That’s because switching to digital is no easy task, and here are the three main reasons.

Lack of flexibility in terms of communication
You have to be responsive in your communications in order to keep your customers. And to be responsive, you need to be able to easily and quickly change the documents you send them, based on their purchase history, geographic area, or even your current marketing campaigns.

You also need to be able to send those same documents digitally (email, web portal, EDI transactions, etc.)

Nonetheless, InfoTrends estimates that it takes an average of three months to make small changes to document templates, and twice as long (seven months!) to make major changes. Some examples of small changes to document templates include updating a company’s logo or a signature, or changing small segments of a text or paragraph. Major changes include completely re-doing the template, including the style, messages and branding.

An aging architecture
Do you sometimes feel trapped by your rigid systems that never seem suited to your organization’s changing needs?

Older systems rarely provide interactive or digital features, because they were designed long before the Internet played such a huge role in business.

For example, the inflexibility of many ERP systems complicates and slows down document updating processes. ERP systems don’t allow you to take into account the new trends in managing customer communications (modern graphics, Internet and HTML use). It gets very costly to make changes directly and requires setting up long-term projects, involving the cooperation of several departments in an organization (IT, operations, and finance).

Managing data from a number of sources
Over the years, a company puts many systems in place to meet the business needs of its various departments. The company ends up with several systems from different eras that often don’t interact well with one another. It would be quite costly to replace all of them for the purposes of data exchange.

Workers have often get into the habit of directly printing documents from each system to collect the information they need. What a waste of time and money when it would have been easier if the systems exchanged data automatically.

Not only do you need a middleware system that allows you to bridge the gap between your systems and retrieve the data you need, but you’ll also want to easily convert and standardize the data moving between systems, if necessary.


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

Improving the Customer Experience through Better Document Management

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
June 24, 2016

Every organization produces an endless stream of documents. And the more your business grows, the more documents you produce. So managing all those documents becomes very complicated.  And it often negatively affects the customer experience.

It becomes even more complicated because the documents are on a variety of media and have to be sent through different channels (mail, Internet, email, EDI, etc.). Document management becomes a huge puzzle! It takes an incredible amount of time and frustrates employees, as well as customers who don’t understand why it’s taking so long to get an answer.

When it comes to answering customer queries, a single employee spends an average of two- and-a- half hours a week looking for information. Moreover, searches are carried out using, on average, three different content managers (all types of media included). It’s no surprise that most employees find it painful!

When you call Customer Service, do you appreciate being put on hold for several minutes before getting an answer to your seemingly easy question?

Automate your document workflow
Automating your document workflow is a must and helps centralize your information. If you don’t automate, having a content management system (ECM) will not be enough because you won’t have the ease and flexibility of using and sending your documents as you please.

Besides, you should be able to manage your documents regardless of delivery channel or medium. In other words, it shouldn’t be difficult to send an invoice to a customer by email, and save it in XML in your archives, even if you’ve received the initial invoice information on paper.

By automating your document workflow, you can cut down on costs, not only by reducing printing but by enhancing productivity and minimizing errors.

Facilitate communications with your customers
Imagine each time you receive a purchase order, no matter which channel it comes through, the document is captured and automatically saved in your systems. You can then retrieve the data needed to complete the order process. At the same time, you can save it in the proper file so that when your customers call to talk about their purchases, you’ll quickly know where to find the information, whether they’re calling one week or six months after making the purchase!

Now picture your delivery confirmations being automatically saved in your company’s content management system each time you deliver a product to a customer. At any time, you would be able to easily prove that the delivery was made, and more importantly, you wouldn’t have to chase after your drivers when a PO goes astray or is illegible.

You would be able to provide quality service to your customers throughout the purchase cycle.

Are you thinking that automating these steps is complicated? Or that this kind of solution is only for large businesses?
Think again—document management can be much simpler and help you as your business expands!


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.

How to Personalize Your Customer Communications

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
June 13, 2016

Personalizing customer communications continues to be a hot issue and many organizations still have a hard time doing it well.

I regularly buy my beauty products at a fairly popular store. Every month for the past several years, this store has been sending out colourful cards with monthly or seasonal discounts to everyone on their mailing list. You need to present the card at the store to get your discounts and a gift. Eventually, I stopped reading the cards because they were always the same and seemed impersonal. Everyone across the country got the same card at the same time, and the discounts were rarely for products that interested me. I never felt that the cards had anything to do with me, other than the fact that I was a customer. And although I had made purchases on a number of occasions, I didn’t feel loyal to that store.

But a few weeks ago, I received a different kind of card. This time, it said that a product I had bought last year was on sale. And if I liked that product, they suggested I try a new related product.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I felt that they were addressing me, and that they had taken the time to suggest something personal that fitted my situation. They were not just sending some generic card meant for their entire customer base.

Since then, I’ve been receiving cards that are specific to my needs and I appreciate the gesture.
So yes, it’s important to personalize your customer communications, and by doing more than simply changing the name!

Here are a few things you can customize in your communications, whether they are promotional or transactional:

  • A different picture for each customer
  • Local contact information only
  • Personalized URL
  • Personalized ads

What’s the best part of all this? You can make the changes regardless of whether your mailings are sent electronically or by regular mail.  If you have a tool that helps you manage both types of communication, you can easily add the same personal touch to each.

Your customer will place greater trust in you and become loyal!


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at:www.objectiflune.com.

Going Digital at Your Own Pace

Submitted by Alexandra Truchot, Content Creation Specialist for Objectif Lune.
May 25, 2016

Going digital: everybody’s talking about it. For some people, it’s a no-brainer and has been reality for a number of years. Others are still struggling to digitize their business procedures. Any way you look at it, the future is digital. But making the switch is complicated.

In a perfect world, you would always send documents by email or publish them to the web. Not only would you be more efficient, you would save money.

Yet, most of organizations still do not send electronic invoices, even in simple PDF format! Customers are still requesting paper invoices and the employees are used to handling documents as they always have. Often, organizations do not have all of their customers’ email addresses. Small- and medium-size enterprises (SME) that began operations prior to the advent of digital, for the most part continue to use paper. Large businesses can afford to develop custom solutions and withstand the risk. SMEs that start up today put digital solutions in place from the get-go. But for medium-size enterprises that have been in business for a number of years, the risk is too great of placing the billing process at a disadvantage or weakening their finances by changing their procedures too abruptly. They lack the means to throw themselves into costly development projects and do not have the in-house resources to modify the systems in place.

Is your organization experiencing these problems?

There is, however, a way to remedy this situation without generating astronomical costs and up-ending your current procedures. Digitize your in-house procedures first. The transition will be smoother when you are ready to communicate electronically with your customers.

Here are some first steps that will make it easier for you to go digital.

  1. Set up an automatic digitization process for archiving your communications with your customers, such as invoices and other documents. Using a middleware system, you collect customer communications to digitize them and make them available as needed. This means that you are keeping electronic copies of all your records, even if you still do not send them to the customers.
  2. Have customer service employees routinely ask customers for their email address when speaking to them on the phone.
  3. Archive these documents in an .XML file and generate PDFs solely upon request for a copy. This takes up less space on your servers.
  4. Start by always sending PDF copies of current accounts in addition to the paper copy requested by the client. You won’t be abandoning paper right away but you will be starting a smooth transition.
  5. Once you’re more comfortable with the digital format in-house and your clients are used to receiving a PDF copy, it will be time to format your invoices so that they can be sent directly in an HTML email.

The right solution adapts to the processes you already have in place and does not require changing everything. Be careful with anything promising drastic changes; you need a solution that will adapt itself to what you already have.


AlexandraTruchot ThumbnailAlexandra Truchot – Content creation specialist with Objectif Lune. Writer and compulsive reader. Eager for unknown destinations and exciting encounters. Anything is possible, you just have to believe it. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Objectif Lune has 20 years of experience developing Customer Communications Management solutions. Our solutions bridge the gap between systems and automate more personalized, relevant, multichannel customer communications. Learn more at: www.objectiflune.com.