Cutting Costs to Invest in the Future: Uncovering the Potential of Customer Communications with Quadient Inspire
As an independent consultant, I’ve seen a universal business truth firsthand: companies want to cut costs. In Slovenia, a market of only 2 million people, the challenge is even more pronounced, where our small market makes it even more difficult to justify the high cost of any business expense. Yet, this isn’t unique to our market; what business doesn’t want to boost their bottom line?
For organizations looking to cut costs, a great area to explore is your customer communications. Some make the move from paper to digital customer communications, but there are big savings to be found with streamlining your existing paper communications in the process.
When companies look to cut costs, they often do it at the expense of another resource or asset. Budgets get cut, changes are made, and everyone has to adapt. Change is often in the name of improving processes and saving money; there always seems to be a steep price when companies make changes to save money.
But by using a product like Quadient Inspire, I’ve been showing companies here in Slovenia how they can both cut costs and improve processes without losing something valuable to the company.
Cutting Costs, Investing in the Future
I fell into using Quadient almost by accident. I started as a Quadient user inside the biggest Slovenia telco, which was at the time Mobitel. I was a regular user, a typical daily programmer using Quadient software in 2004. We had our own print shop just for our company, where we printed our own invoices.
When the financial crisis hit in 2008, cost savings were a big buzzword for companies here in Slovenia. So, they decided to outsource the whole printing department, and basically sold everything. I took that opportunity to strike out on my own as an independent consultant. I now help Quadient users from the region with their workflows and their architecture and other business pain points. I’ve been using Quadient for 14 years now—11 of which have been within my own company.
I’ve consulted for banks, insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and beyond. They hire me to analyze their systems and make recommendations about how to cut costs and improve efficiencies. More often than not, their invoicing systems are messy, outdated, and overcomplicated. This is one aspect of doing business that is often overlooked when it comes to saving money.
Making the Business Case for Streamlined Communications
Most of my engagements with new companies start by making the business case to company executives about the benefits of Quadient. It’s the return on investment that they’re looking for, and if they see that I can save them money through Quadient, it’s often an easy sell. It’s hard to say no to saving money.
The good thing about cutting postage costs (especially when it comes to direct customer communications) is that it’s actually pretty easy to calculate and extrapolate over time. I’ve been very successful in accurately predicting their cost savings.
Quadient Inspire can do so much more than just save companies money, but I know what piques my clients’ interests, so I tend to lead with that benefit. That being said, moving to Quadient Inspire also helps companies to streamline their workflows because they inevitably use fewer templates for their invoices. They also need fewer people to do the work because Quadient Inspire simplifies the whole process. It’s truly a time when companies can save money and improve their processes.
Transforming Processes and Costs at one.VIP
To illustrate what’s possible, let’s look at my work with one.VIP, a telecommunications company in Macedonia. To start, we did a very simple migration with Quadient Inspire, just helping them to develop a typical invoice. But they quickly started to see we could do so much more.
Using Inspire, we started analyzing what we produced and sent out. The first thing we noticed we could dive into was optimizing the weight groups of the invoices. Naturally, postage cost is based on weight, so by optimizing the size of the invoices, we could potentially cut down on costs. We used Quadient to analyze data, mine the logs, and produce a report that explained how we could consolidate various invoices based on their weight ranges.
For instance, we decided whether some invoices would be presented in one-column design or in two-column design. We also considered the dynamic selection of overflow pages, and whether we wanted to squeeze that particular invoice into the lower weight range. That was our initial step. We also discovered that there are a lot of customers who have multiple invoices, but no one had ever thought about combining them. They were sending two or three invoices to the same person at the same address, simply because they had different phone numbers for each account.
We managed to very simply group those invoices and pack them into one envelope, which sounds like a small, easy change, but it has reaped an excellent return on investment. The change impacted 21,000 envelopes, which we reduced down to 7,200. The print savings amounted to €20,000 per year, and delivery savings of €55,000 per year. It can be a hard sell for middle management, who may be happy with their existing process and resist change. But it’s hard to argue with results.
Consolidation, Preparation, Organization: The Technical Process
Another example is within the banking sector. This is an industry where they send a lot of communications, but don’t always optimize when they send them. You’ll get mailed something on Monday, and then again on Wednesday, but that Monday communication could have waited until Wednesday. This was the problem for my customer at the time, a well-known Slovenian bank.
Some of those documents—like an invoice—are important, but other communications might be less pressing and can wait. By waiting, you have the option to group it in the same envelope as another. With Quadient Inspire, we were able to set priorities, as well as a last available date to be sent.
A medium-priority communication, like an invoice, needs to be sent soon, but can probably wait a few days. For a file like this, we generate a TNO file (instead of a ready-print file), and then it sits in their system.
When a high-priority communication needs to be sent, it’s then batched with the lower-priority files (if there are any waiting) and are sent together. And that’s the beauty of Quadient Inspire. It can handle this logic, and nothing will go wrong because we aren’t touching the production workflow at all. Human error is all but eliminated.
Unlocking a Whole New World of Possibilities with Scripting and Support
The common perception is that what makes Quadient so nice is that it's modular and doesn't need any scripting. While it’s true that Quadient Inspire is powerful right out of the box with their modules, you’re missing out on a lot of functionality by not exploring scripting. The ability to write your own scripts unlocks a world of ideas and concepts. And the best part? It’s not all that hard. I’m not a programmer by my education (I studied economics), which goes to show you that it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Companies make a sizeable investment into Quadient, but they sometimes stop there. But why not invest 3–6 months of your time to learn scripting and really get the most from the platform? Pay for a scripting course, if necessary, or just ask questions on the Quadient University community platform. You'll never look back! It's a totally new world. I'm very active in Quadient University, and I'm always glad to help with any scripting questions.
Quadient University provides Quadient Inspire users access to all the information they need when they get stuck or want to use the software in a unique way. There are so many excellent resources, such as installation guides and use cases. But their secret weapon is the community, the interactive discussion forums where you can ask questions and other Quadient users can post responses to help you in real time.
This is where the true value lies, in bringing together Quadient users to help each other succeed. It's the ability to ask and answer questions that are specific to your situation. I recently joined their customer community, The Quad, and I’m looking forward to exploring even more benefits.
A Dynamic Future in Digital Communications
This is all what’s been possible in the past, but I also think about the future. When I think about more ways of cutting costs while improving processes, I'm really enthusiastic about dynamic communications and Quadient’s Digital Advantage Suite.
I would like to see dynamic communications be the next big thing in Slovenia. It’s an exciting next foray for these organizations, though we’ve yet to truly see what’s possible in this regard. Adoption rates are a bit slower than I expected, so I think it’s still going to take some time. However, the companies that have invested in it have already reaped fantastic advantages from its capabilities. The existing solutions within Quadient Inspire are enough to make a massive, real-time impact within organizations—I’ve seen the incredible difference these subtle shifts can create.
With the rise of digital adoption and transformation slowly finding its way into organizations as they see the benefits, maybe we can move this digital communications story into a new territory. But even if you aren’t ready to make that jump, just know that you can still improve your print communications—without feeling the hit.