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.

4 Ways to Improve Your Customer Communications

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

You’re probably bombarded with articles showing the need to improve your customer communications.

Now that you’re well aware of the impact the customer experience can have on your business, how exactly do you go about it? What are the main things to keep in mind and to implement?

Multichannel, rather than digital, communications
We repeatedly stress the importance of moving into the digital age. But consumer expectations are more complex than simply wanting to communicate with you by email because they are all different in terms of their speed in adapting to the digital world: traditional channels only, a little bit of digital or digital in every aspect of their lives.

All of these consumers co-exist, and it’s not as easy as it used to be to separate them simply based on age. Seniors are now as digital savvy as young people, who are still gravitating between traditional and digital. You have to be able to reach all of them. If not, a competitor will beat you to it.

Mobility and consistency
Not only are consumers connected 24/7, but they travel around a lot. And they want access to the same quality of information, no matter where they’re located.

Most companies have already started to offer their content through mobile and email, but it’s not easy to read, extends beyond the device’s screen and doesn’t offer the same features. Simply put, because companies are still not managing to change content based on the strengths of each platform, they settle for using the same elements, regardless of where the content is posted. But customers have less and less patience with sites and email unsuited to mobile. They want a total, consistent experience.

Being responsive and fast
Mobility leads to a real-time need. Customers are now used to getting news at any time, and as soon as it happens. They expect things to work the same way in their business relationships. They want information to be available 24/7 and on demand.

More than anything else, consumers assess your response time. Organizations that can respond in real time are now getting ahead of the curve.

Your customers want their next invoice to reflect the latest call they had with you, even if it was only a couple of days ago. If they request a change in their account or billing, you can no longer afford to wait several weeks before accounting for it in the communications sent over any of the channels.

Loyalty: an ongoing pursuit
Loyalty means little anymore. Just because customers buy your products, it doesn’t mean they’ll stick with you forever. Nowadays, they need to be wooed on a continual basis because they’re always assessing you. The digital age has made it possible for them to move around: in just a few clicks, they can find out what your competitors are doing. They can make quick online comparisons.

If the competitor seems to be offering a more personalized customer experience, chances are your customers will go to that competitor, even if your products are top of the line.


AlexandraTruchot Thumbnail

Alexandra 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.

 

An interview with Harry Lewis, President of the Advanced Function Presentation Consortium

Xplor President/CEO Skip Henk Interviews Harry Lewis, President of the AFP Consortium

Most everyone in the Xplor Community is familiar with AFP (advanced function presentation) and the impact it has had on our industry over the years. But AFP has come a long way since 1984 when it was first introduced. Most recently, it reached a very important milestone announced in January by the AFP Consortium.

Just a bit of background as to how the consortium came to be:

In October 2004 IBM initiated the formation of the AFP Color Consortium (AFPCC). The purpose was to collaboratively develop color management support in the AFP architecture. This resulted in the creation of the new AFP CMOCA (Color Management Object Content Architecture) specification which was first published in 2006.

In May 2006 IBM announced plans to open up the complete scope of the AFP architecture to the consortium. The new initiative was finalized in February 2009 with incorporation of the AFP Consortium (AFPC).

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Harry Lewis, president of the Advanced Function Presentation Consortium (AFPC), to get an idea of what the AFPC has been up to for the last several years.

Skip: Harry, thank you for taking the time to talk about the work of the AFPC.

Harry: Skip, certainly, it’s my pleasure.

Skip: Since IBM’s announcement in February 2009, could you share with our readers how the AFPC has evolved and what initiatives they have undertaken?

LewisHarry: As you well know, the print industry, and especially the digital printing industry, is constantly changing. The consortium has been hard at work helping AFP’s end users stay ahead of the game, making big strides on key issues, such as reaching agreement on a standard interchange set (IS/3), continuing to enhance color support, and defining a metadata framework to support tagging at the print file and object level. We defined a subset of AFP for archiving, of which metadata is a key component. Recently, this AFP archive (AFP/A) subset achieved ISO certification, which is essential for end users who want a high degree of confidence when creating searchable, reliable archives, whether to meet their internal needs or to satisfy externally mandated compliance.

Skip: What does ISO certification mean for AFP and its users?

Harry: ISO certification provides a level of assurance to AFP’s end users that the Archive standard brings the levels of data fidelity and efficiency they’ve come to expect from AFP, and, in cases of maintaining regulatory compliance, it gives them something to point to that indicates their archive format is recognized and accepted around the globe.

Skip: So what is next for the AFPC?

Harry: Commercial variable data has been a growing segment of AFP’s user base for a while, and, with the commercial space evolving as rapidly as it is, we intend to track and adapt to those changes to help ensure AFP users are able to meet their – and their customers’ – needs effectively, efficiently and reliably.

Skip: How can companies get involved in the AFPC?

Harry: If a company develops or sells an AFP hardware or software product, tool set or service, they may be eligible for membership. They can request further information through the Membership Information widget on our website, afpcinc.org.

Skip: Harry, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. For our readers, you can find out more about the great work of the AFPC and its numerous standards, by visiting http://afpcinc.org/afp-publications/.

About the AFPC
The AFP Consortium is an international open standards body consisting of 33 companies committed to the continued development of the AFP architecture. Since 2004, the AFPC has developed open standards for accurate and consistent ICC-based color management, high-speed complex text, page group recovery within high-volume production, the IS/3 interchange set for compliance, and metadata support for AFP Archive and future applications, such as accessibility features.  The AFPC will continue in its role to grow and maintain the complete set of AFP architecture.

To see a full list of the Consortium’s members and learn more about the AFP Consortium and the new IS/3 AFP interchange set, visit the AFPC website http://www.afpcinc.org.

Until Next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Personalized Video … where does it fit?

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
*Cover photo compliments of  Pitney Bowes EngageOne® Video mentioned in post

Personalized Video … where does it fit?
My Grandson recently participated in a “fun run” to help raise money for his school. He ran 39 laps with friends and relatives pledging $$$ per lap. Not a new concept as it has been going on for years. What was unique is that the event actually was organized and managed by an event company who provided all the marketing collaterals, prizes, the online payment portal, etc.

As part of the marketing effort, the event company created a personalized video for the participant to help promote the event to family and friends. The video, albeit a bit too long in my opinion, was a great marketing tool as it features several shots of the participant embedded in the video, which every grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin and/or family friend watched, because it was cute and personal.

To view a sample video click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvvQiUyaLPU

Cute, but there is much more!
The application as it relates to the “fun run” was cute but only reached the tip of the iceberg of what I have found personalized video is capable of.  In preparation for our upcoming conference, I researched various products offered by the likes of Sunday Sky, Pitney Bowes, etc. to find a speaker for our event.

What I have discovered in the bit of research that I did is that a well done personalized video can allow an incredible exchange of information, almost creating a “virtual relationship” with a customer or prospect.  As part of a multi or omni-channel strategy personalized video can significantly enhance the customer experience.

I was able to find a demo by Pitney Bowes online and viewed it at least six different times.  I had several opportunities to select different options that took the video in different directions, all of which extrapolated various responses and information from me.  After I closed and returned to the demo site it “welcomed me back.”  The possibilities appeared endless and I certainly could see the potential in terms of engaging a customer or prospect. If you would like to check it out go to: http://www.mypbvideo.com/engageonevideo (Cover photo is a screen shot of my experience).

In the scope of multi-channel communications, personalized video certainly offers some unique capabilities to engage someone in a truly personal and interactive manner.  As the technology is embraced it will be interesting to see the various applications and uses.

Pitney Bowes will present “The Future of Customer Engagement is Video. And the Future is Now.” at Xploration 16 in Orlando on April 5th. Along with their presentation, we have fifty-four others that deal with the technologies, processes and best practices that are driving multi/omni-channel communications as well as the customer experience.

I invite you to check it out at www.xplor.org , click on events, then Xploartion 16 Conference. If you are an end user* and have not attended an Xplor conference in the past, I still have a couple complimentary registrations as part of our First Timers Recognition Program.

Look forward to receiving your thoughts on personalized video.

Any questions contact me at skip@xplor.org. Hope to see you in Orlando.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

 


*End users are identified as users/buyers of technology. Includes, but not limited to, banking, insurance, healthcare, government, utilities, commercial printers, service bureaus, etc.

“What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

Every year around this time I have the opportunity to speak with people about attending our annual conference. Generally questions include fees, the hotel, content, schedule, networking opportunities, and so on.

I also have conversations with people who tell me that they are unable to attend because it is not in the budget. My personal favorite is “my company does not believe in conferences.” The same has held true when I talk about industry certification. “We have no budget, or our company does not see the value.”

One has to ask, why do companies not want to develop their people? I received something from a friend of mine at Print Media Center the other day that makes a great deal of sense…

CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?”
CEO to CFO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

It is costly if you don’t!

Investing in employees is a good investment. It makes employees more productive, speeds up their growth, increases employee satisfaction and retention and is good for your customers.

One year we had an attendee say that he returned with several new ideas for his company that resulted in several millions of dollars in savings. His company invested less than $1500 for him to attend a conference. He also received a cash bonus. The company benefited, he benefited, and his customers benefited.

Investments go beyond attending conferences. One of our members and sponsors put out a challenge to their employees to get an industry certification or designation. The company, GMC Software, made the investment in time and covered all certification fees. As a result, 124 of GMC’s employees obtained either an EDA designation or EDP certification. That is 20% of their employees in one year!

Why did GMC do it? Because they want to developed their people and make them more valuable to the company and subsequently, their customers.

We want to invest in you!

I have attended dozens of conferences over the years and when I do, I have only one objective: leave with one idea or contact that not only paid for the conference, but made me money. Over the years, I have made a lot of money for the companies I have worked for.

Xplor conferences are filled with a wealth of knowledge, great ideas, and great contacts. As such, I would like you to attend the conference free as my guest. (Sorry but you will have to cover travel and hotel)

Xploration® 16 will take place April 5-7, 2016 at the Caribe Royale Orlando in Florida. – featuring 55+ educational sessions, 3 keynote speakers, 2 networking lunches, 2 evening networking events and 35 exhibitors.

For more information, click here.

To receive a complimentary conference pass (Value $1199) simply meet these three simple criteria:

1. An end user* (no vendors please)
2. Have not attended an Xplor annual conference for the last eight years
3. Stay at our host hotel, the Caribe Royale Orlando, a beautiful resort property for $159/night.

To apply, click here.

Any questions contact me at skip@xplor.org. Hope to see you in Orlando.

 

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

 


*End users are identified as users/buyers of technology. Includes, but not limited to, banking, insurance, healthcare, government, utilities, commercial printers, service bureaus, etc.

The Anti-Customer Experience

By Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

A great deal of focus for Xploration 16 is on the Tracks & Topics 1Customer Experience as well as the technologies and processes that surround it. I must admit in helping put together our 2016 Education Matrix, I learned a great deal in trying define both the concept of Customer Experience and the complex world surrounding it.

However, after a recent experience with my health insurance company I may have been negligent in leaving out one category: The Anti-Customer Experience.

The Start of the Anti-Customer Experience
I recently received an email from my insurance provider who notified me via email that I should have received my enrollment package and I was enrolled for 2016. The problem was that I had not in fact received my enrollment package and had no idea what my premium would be or if there was a change in my coverage. So I decided to call their hotline.

Could it Get Worse? (Hint: Yes)
Once I got past the oh-so simple just let me talk to a person menu prompts and through the awful hold music, my conversation started when I spoke to Walter in Customer Service. He asked standard questions to verify my identity so I provided my policy number, name, social security, etc. Walter then informed me that since I had a current policy, I needed to speak with a different department. So he forwarded me to Lisa in Member Services. I provided the same information to Lisa, explained the same reason for calling, and then was told I needed to talk to the sales department since it was for a renewal. After Lisa forwarded me to Sierra in Sales, I (again) gave the same information, repeated the same process and guess what!? Do you see where this is going yet? Yep. I was forwarded once again, but this time to Ida (who told me I needed member services again!), then Dora and finally a manager Nigel. Dora was the most helpful as she stayed on the phone with me WHILE contacting her manager (Nigel) and promised not to forward me again. Only took five people for good service…

Total process to get a quote for 2016 and my pamphlet? 32 minutes.

Adding Insult to Injury – (and a bit of venting)
After I voiced my frustration to Nigel about the whole process, he apologized but then informed me that my 2016 premium was 36% higher (no further comment here).  He did offer me a policy that had fewer benefits and in his words was ”only $182.15 higher per month”. This was still about a 10% increase in my policy. Somehow I did not feel good paying more for less while spending 30 minutes and getting aggravated. I did not feel the love.

The results of the Anti-Customer Experience Campaign
As a result of my “pleasant” experience, I am now spending my time looking for alternative healthcare plans which to me only surpasses my disdain in buying a new car.

It really was not the 10% increase, which I am still not happy with, or the reduction in benefits, even though with a family is hard to swallow. How they treated me as a customer paying a lot of money for coverage is what drove me to look elsewhere. It is just about the principal.

The CommercialXplor16_300x150
Xploration 16 has a great deal of content on the importance of the Customer Experience. If you have never attended the annual Xplor event and are an end user, I invite you to apply for our “First Timer Recognition Program”. Here, you will have the chance of receiveing a FREE full conference pass to enjoy the event. Are you an Xplor Veteran? Than we have a package that will cover your conference pass AND hotel stay. Just get to Orlando and you’ll be taken care of.  Hope to see you there!

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

What is Behind GMC Software’s New Look? An Interview with Tamir Sigal, CMO of GMC Software

Xplor President/CEO Skip Henk Interviews Tamir Sigal, CMO of GMC Software

GMC Software has been a longtime supporter of Xplor International and a leading provider of Customer Communications Management (CCM) software for many years.

Headquartered in Switzerland and with offices throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia, GMC Software serves thousands of users worldwide in a wide range of industries including financial services, banking, insurance, health care and the service providers that serve those industries.  In 2012 GMC Software was purchased by Neopost.

Recently GMC launched a new logo. The familiar “GMC Software” is still part of the moniker but some interesting graphics have been introduced.

So as one who is always curious about the meaning behind logos, I, Skip Henk, decided to contact GMC Software’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tamir Sigal, to see what I could find out.


Skip: Tamir, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. For our readers who are not familiar with GMC Software could you give us your 15 second elevator pitch?

Tamir SigalTamir:  It’s good to talk to you, Skip. GMC Software helps companies communicate with their customers and employees. We empower organizations to create stronger engagements with timely and relevant communications. We are the only company that provides the means for business users to develop contextual, highly individualized communications across all channels that span the entire customer journey. As a leader in customer communications, GMC supports thousands of clients and partners in banking, insurance, healthcare and service providers around the world.

Skip: I like the new logo. What drove the introduction of a new logo?

Tamir: GMC has served our market well since the company’s inception over 20 years ago. We have long-standing relationships with many of the leading companies and biggest brands in the world. And during that time there have been a lot of changes in the way people interact. Today, our customers rely on us to help them deliver digital engagements across multiple channels with one design. It was time to give GMC Software a new look and voice. Obviously a logo is a big part of a company’s brand.

Skip: Can you share the story behind its development? What do the graphics represent?

GMC Logo 062215Tamir: With the new logo, we wanted to reiterate our focus on delivering outstanding products, using the latest technologies and overachieving on customer needs. So first and foremost, the logo represents a focus on customers – GMC’s customers and our clients’ customers. The second theme of the logo is around technology. Today’s technology devices are responsive and utilize pinching to zoom in and out of visual elements. The frame represents the need for all solutions today to be responsive. Finally, today’s journey is not just about onboarding and delivering monthly communications. Every interaction
a leading brand has with their customers is important – and the symbol allows companies to focus on specific steps of the entire journey.

Skip: What do the graphics and colors represent?

Tamir: The idea was to use gradient colors to make a connection between the 20 years of experience and the future of GMC Software. We wanted to incorporate the previous logo’s colors and themes. The best way to do this is by using gradient shading.

Skip: You also changed your tagline from “The smartest way to engage customers” to “Your Customers. Engaged.” Why make this change?

Tamir: The tagline we used was specifically related to the GMC Inspire product line. The new tagline is more relevant at the corporate level. At GMC, we wanted to move the focus away from our product to what our customers want to achieve with their customers – better engagement.   

Skip: I thank you for taking the time to share with our readers more about GMC and your new branding. Any closing thoughts?

Tamir: For your readers, I invite them to visit our new website at www.gmc.net. There is a great deal of information and resources available that may be of interest to them.

Skip: Once again Mr. Sigal, thank you for your time and for your ongoing support of Xplor over the last 20 years. I look forward to seeing the GMC team at Xploration 16 in Orlando.


I highly encourage our readers to take a look at GMC’s new website because it does look great! I always enjoy the great blog postings GMC has and recently read a good one by Scott Draeger that you should take a look at. It’s titled: A glimpse into the future of Customer Communications Management (CCM).

Until next interview! Take care.

skip_Henk_Photo_2011

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Harry’s Corner – Adding Value with 3-4-1 is Another Win-Win

Submitted by Harry Stephens, President/CEO of DATAMATX
October 5, 2015

I have just finished my usual round of September travels—starting with the Major Mailers Association, the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC) where I serve on the board, then on to the INg workshop and finally a visit to Graph Expo to see what is new. I always learn a lot on these whirlwind trips and this one was no exception. This year there was a great deal of buzz around inkjet technology and how it makes it more affordable to add color to our documents to keep print alive and relevant. It is a proven fact—color delivers value. Of course we still need to find a way to communicate the value it has in order to charge for it. That’s why the leaders in our industry are gathering as much information as possible on how to produce color at a reasonable cost—and work to make informed decisions on investing in equipment that allows for more affordable full color capabilities.

Delivering value was also the buzz at the NPPC meeting. James (Jim) P. Cochrane spoke to us about the need to make mail more relevant. We have to find ways to add more value to mail in order to keep it in the system. Jim is a 41-year veteran of the USPS and has been acting chief marketing and sales officer and executive vice president (CMSO) since April 2015. He reports to the Postmaster General. What I liked about Jim is that he understands the need to be flexible and change things if needed. He directed the advancement of new mail intelligence, engineering systems, information technology systems, payment technology, secure digital solutions and corporate information security to meet the changing needs of today’s marketplace.

As Jim spoke about relevancy and value, what immediately came to my mind was “2-4-1 and Everybody Wins.” It was the title of a column I wrote for this very publication four years ago. 2-4-1 came about at a Major Mailers Association meeting where Paul Vogel, the president and chief marketing/sales officer for the USPS at the time, spoke about improving the USPS experience for its customers. After his talk, one member brought up the idea that perhaps the USPS would approve allowing business mailers to mail a two-ounce piece at the one-ounce rate. Every major mailer at the meeting liked this idea, the USPS implemented it and it was highly successful.

I began to think about all I have been learning about inkjet technology having been at the recent Inkjet Summit and its ability to lower the cost per page; and if 2-4-1 was a success in increasing mail by making mailing more documents affordable, why build a better mousetrap—just make it larger by now allowing three ounces at the one-ounce rate. That would give business mailers a little more latitude and alleviate the worry of losing the discount to mail at the single piece rate if they were slightly over the two ounces—adding value. It would help support the demand for creating (and mailing) more documents in color—adding value. It would allow mailers to get the mail to the recipient faster as 3-4-1 would be at the threshold of the cutoff for Standard Mail—adding value. Of course, it would require a 6 x 9 envelope, but many folks are used to receiving transactional bills that way already.

As it turned out, adopting the 2-4-1 suggestion on the part of the USPS was easy. First, there were no legal restrictions to worry about and it didn’t need the PRC to rule or Congress to approve, as it was not a rate increase or a mandate. So adopting 3-4-1 could happen just as smoothly.

At these meetings, we openly discuss ways to create more value with printed mail. So after Jim spoke, I made the suggestion that moving up an ounce to ‘3-4-1’would be a serious additional stimulus for marketing via First Class. As I said earlier, I think Jim Cochrane is a person who welcomes changing things if it makes sense—and 3-4-1 certainly does. In 2011, in this very publication, I predicted 2-4-1 would be a win-win for mailers and the USPS and it was. I think 3-4-1 will be a win-win as well—providing the extra value needed to keep printed mail relevant.

What’s your opinion on 3-4-1? I am interested. You can email me at hstephens@datamatx.com. I hope to hear from you!

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 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.

Why is the EDBOK important to our industry? By Roberta McKee-Jackson

Note: At Xploration®14 Xplor International began a roll out of the first Electronic Document Body of Knowledge by providing conference attendees a limited edition of the document with the official First Edition released at the 2014 Graph Expo event.

Due to the significance of the publication and the impact on the industry as a whole Xplor has decided to provide a series of articles outlining what the EDBOK is, the impact it can have within your company as well as on one’s career.


Publication of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge (EDBOK), First Edition, represents a significant achievement for the electronic document systems industry. The industry as we know it today has changed dramatically from the one we understood 35 years ago. Innovations in technology, hardware, software, and people skills have resulted in the complexity of digital documents and data-driven communications that we utilize today.

The EDBOK represents the first compilation of the knowledge and expertise required to create and develop digital communications in today’s world – bills, statements, insurance policies, regulatory documentation, financial documents, and marketing communications. Never before has the collective knowledge of our industry been compiled into a single resource document, from the history of technology and processes to the current state of the industry.

The EDBOK serves as a brilliant resource for staff at every level within a company. For those new to the industry, it is a roadmap of the technologies and processes required to create digital communications. For more experienced staff, it is a reference source for continued development and education.

Topics covered in the EDBOK explain the technologies and processes using a standard vocabulary to describe the day-to-day production workflow and the long-term document systems development lifecycle. All forms of digital communication are created using these production job steps, from data to doorstep. The development processes covering the entire life of a document include business requirements, business/technical analysis, architecture, design, development, testing, production, and maintenance.

For those who want to pursue designation under the EDP (Electronic Document Professional®) program, EDBOK represents the body of knowledge categories required for peer review and assessment. Perusing the varied topics will help candidates determine how their expertise and knowledge map against the criteria for certification. Staff who have two years of industry experience may apply for the EDA (Electronic Document Associate) designation while those with five or more years experience may apply for EDP certification.

The EDBOK embodies the collation of knowledge of the digital communications industry at a point in time and will prove to be an extremely valuable resource for anyone in this industry. As a living document, updates to reflect further innovations in technology and processes will be added to provide the most up-to-date industry guide.

For more information on the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge please visit: www.edbok.org or call Xplor International at +1 813-949-6170.