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Monday, August 19, 2019

Opinion > PCC

Technology paves the way for a new era of customer communications for banks

Jeremy Hutchins, account development director at Paragon Customer Communications | 15:28 Friday 18th January 2019

In the post-GDPR banking landscape, utilising outbound mail for critical customer communications has re-emerged as an important communications strategy for banks.

As competition heats up between different banks, new challenger banks are increasingly attempting to disrupt the market by attracting new customers, while retaining existing customers. Building a lasting bond with consumers by providing a personal service, therefore, has never been more critical.

These new banks are delivering on enhanced customer service by optimising the customer experience and central to this is clear, timely and continuous communications, both in digital and printed form.

A commitment to building strong relationships was highlighted at the British Bank Awards 2018, where digital, mobile-only challenger bank Starling Bank picked up the Best British Bank Award, while specialist bank Close Brothers Savings became the top bank in terms of customer service in the UK.

The age of customer communications

While online services and banking apps may satisfy digitally savvy customers, it’s important to ensure you remain able to service all customers. Printed communications, therefore, have remained a core element over recent decades and continue to be a valuable tool in the arsenal of all UK banks, including challenger and specialist banks. In fact, according to research from Royal Mail, 92% of all direct mail is opened and 48% of UK adults took action after receiving direct mail in 2016. 

For banking institutions specifically, where organisations regularly mail critical customer communication documents – such as statements, letters, policies, invoices, regulatory documents and direct debit mandates to a large number of customers – harnessing the potential of the latest mail technology could help strengthen their relationships with customers.

Smaller volume, highly personalised ‘tactical’ direct mail campaigns – distributed through intelligent desktop mailing platforms – can prove invaluable. It is, however, not without its challenges.

Although printed, outbound communications have evolved dramatically in recent times – with the advent of features such as document personalisation – the premise of distributing printed mail remains the same. The process of sending out mail manually can be costly and time-consuming, often requiring the assistance of several full-time employees to sort, address and send out mail.

What’s more, often banks fail to maintain accurate records of how much mail has been distributed – or to whom it has been sent and when – leading to issues downstream. Add to this that perhaps data controls or governance to handle customer data may not be in place, and the challenges of using tactical direct mail can be significant for even the most established banks.

In a bid to address these challenges and regain control of their entire printing and mailing processes, banks turning to cutting-edge technology to communicate with customers are reaping the rewards.

New technologies

Adopting the latest technologies for mailing purposes can allow organisations to thrive in the highly competitive sector by regaining control of print, mailroom and postage costs and increasing staff productivity levels when it comes to outbound communications. By using such systems across multiple branches and departments it is possible to deliver a truly multi-channel mailing strategy that combines a multitude of channels, including not just print, but also emails and SMS.

Communications technologies are enabling banks to enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty by engaging with customers at every stage of the customer journey, from initial contact to the purchase of products or services and post-sales support. The aim is to deliver a seamless experience to individuals that demonstrates a good understanding of their customer base.

Simple, secure, desktop mailing platforms for outgoing mail enable bank staff to generate documents as usual, however, the printing, sorting and despatch processes can be automated through an encrypted channel to reduce printing and postal costs and eliminate the risks of human error. The highly secure platform is ideal for processing and circulating highly confidential customer documents.

Discrete barcodes can be added to documents to allow each item to be tracked, whether the document is sent via post or email, which ensures banks stay on top of what mail has been distributed, to whom and when. In addition, data can be extracted from documents to report on the frequency of communications to certain account numbers or email addresses, facilitating a smarter, more streamlined approach to customer communications.

Maintaining company standards and achieving brand consistency can often be a challenge. Streamlined online print systems enable teams to search, preview, cancel or release communications created. In turn, allowing them to check for branding, content, tone of voice and other compliance requirements before circulating.

Easy to install and deploy across internal networks, such systems free up staff time, enabling employees to focus their efforts on more productive elements of the business instead of printing documents, placing them in envelopes and posting them to customers themselves.

Banks of all sizes – and not just challenger banks – should not neglect the effectiveness of outgoing mail communications. By ensuring a strong platform is in place for outbound mail, the customer experience is enhanced, while banks can also take back control of their operating budgets and ensure compliance with legislation.

Partnering with an experienced customer communications expert can help organisations formulate the most effective end-to-end solution for their organisation.

Paragon Customer Communications combines generations of expertise with the latest innovations in technology and smart data. The company is ideally placed to improve all aspects of communications in the banking sector, with services developed around the latest software and print technologies.


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