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Optimizing Customer Contact With EDP
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By Chris Stone

The quality of the customer experience is crucial for small businesses that are growing but still want to maintain a level of personalization. As the most consistent point of contact, the last mile of communication between any company and the customer is the key place to establish and maintain positive experiences.

That “place” is a customer communication document, such as an account statement, invoice, a bill of lading, etc.

Engaging customers at a personal level is a classic challenge. This is especially true when there are thousands of customers to communicate with, service and support each month. What’s new about this challenge is the fast-growing competition for the same customers. What were once differentiators are more frequently commodities—services are comparable, pricing is tight, packages have similarities and commitments are seemingly identical.

However, customer documents can personalize the process from the initial marketing message, to account opening, periodic bills and statements. Yet few small businesses optimize the format, personalization, delivery or cost-saving potential of this “last mile” of customer communications.

Why not? Well, while every enterprise recognizes the value of implementing a personalized, customer-centric communications approach, the fact is that most don’t have the technological dexterity to convert internal information systems into interactive, customized communication channels that provide the client with documents in the format, and through the channel, that best fits their needs.

However, a growing number of small businesses are beginning to find a way to do just that by adopting Enterprise Document Presentment (EDP) solutions. The idea behind EDP is pretty basic, but the results can be eye-popping. To boil it down to the most basic description of this new category, EDP enables the automated creation and presentment of customer documents in any format via any channel (traditional mail, PDF, email, fax, SMS text, etc.) to customers, suppliers and business partners.

EDP also connects seamlessly with existing CRM, SCM, ERP and even legacy systems to facilitate clear and persuasive communication with customers. By doing this, small companies across the globe have been able to use their customer-facing documents to increase the value of their client relationships, enhance customer loyalty and reduce operating costs.

The Last Mile

EDP can help with processes common to all organizations. For instance, every company needs to produce account statements. Account statements provide prime opportunities to generate new revenue. EDP enables companies to upgrade their statements from simple transaction summaries into personalized, highly targeted one-to-one marketing vehicles that deepen the relationship, drive revenue and reinforce brand awareness. Hey, you’ve got their eyeballs on the account statement; why not take advantage of that?

To be sure, the last mile of communication between the firm and the customer is the key place to reinforce positive customer relationships. People respond best when regular communication – such as the account statement – is intuitive and easy to read. When it is, the better experience reinforces loyalty and prompts customers to engage additional products and services.

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Chris Stone is the President and CEO of StreamServe.
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