Digital’s Gain Doesn’t Have to Be Print’s Loss: Helping Your Clients to a Multichannel Win
For those who come from the print world, the move to digital can be scary. All around us are stories about how digital communication will put print out of business. Even those of us who want to embrace digital customer communications management (CCM) worry what this will do the traditional print division of our business.
My experience adopting CCM tells the opposite story, however: Digital communications won’t put you out of business—it will keep you in business. And its positive effect on print could surprise you. It surprised me.
I’m the COO at eGlue, a CCM service provider based in Milan. Our tradition is as a print provider, but eGlue’s view of itself has expanded since 2008. Now, our product is simply communication. What caused our shift in thinking? The company wanted to take advantage of new functionalities and the potential to grow our business. So, in 2008, we took the first step in eGlue’s digital transformation. Now, we help our clients make digital transformations of their own.
Our company serves many verticals, but we have a strong foothold in the utilities market. In this story, I’ll use utilities as examples, but we’ve had similar success with clients in other markets, such as banking, industry, or telecommunications. You can likely make the connections to your own business.
How We Help Our Clients See the Upside of Digital Transformation
When we first pitch the benefits of dynamic communications to our clients, we showcase how it can impact the way the interact with their customers. In short: the interaction will be faster, with immediate feedback in the form of useful data.
Our second message is about cost. Some clients worry about the cost of dynamic communications, but there is no additional IT investment needed. We manage this additional set of digital services on their behalf, so they don’t have to invest in the tech itself or training personnel. We make adopting CCM easy.
Since 2008, eGlue has used Quadient’s Inspire platform to help enable this vision for our clients. Let’s dive into some examples of what we’ve done.
Case in Point: E.ON Italy
One of our client success stories is the Italian division of the well-known utility company E.ON. Here is a client that—until recently—was printing or sending PDF bills by email. As a result, they received little to no feedback from customers. In 2016, we developed a project for E.ON with a real omnichannel approach.
We started with a new layout for E.ON’s traditional print invoice and applied it to the PDF format. We then added dynamic communication on top of the new PDF format. E.ON’s goal was to make the communication very efficient. So the dynamic communication involved adding many explanations to the invoice to ensure every aspect of the bill was crystal clear.
We then added links to E.ON’s web portal, so the invoice becomes an entry point to payment and further interaction with E.ON. And then we added some marketing and promotional material.
One function we built into the invoice was feedback. Now, the customer can rank their customer experience and the service E.ON provides right on the invoice. It opens up the possibility for interaction. The communication is no longer one-way, but bidirectional.
E.ON’s customers love the new layout, and the proof is in the data. The NPS on dynamic communications is 70% higher than traditional forms of communication. And the number of customers switching to the electronic, dynamic invoice has constantly increased since 2016. It means E.ON is communicating better with its customers, while saving money on print costs at the same time.
Instant Feedback: No More Digital Communications Sent Into the Void
A key feature of digital communication is that it’s instantaneous. All the dynamic communication projects we’ve worked on have had similar success in the opening rate, as we saw in the E.ON example. But, more than that, we know from those opening clicks that the customer engages with this form of communication a day or two after it is sent. Your message reaches the customer that quick.
Anyone who works with static communication is likely familiar with the feeling of sending that communication into a void or a black box. You send an invoice. And then? Did the customer engage with that email in any significant way? Did they open that printed invoice immediately, or did it sit on their desk for a week? Do they have any doubts about how the invoice is calculated? If you and your clients work solely with static communication, you’ll never have the answers to these questions.
But immediate feedback allows for immediate insights. With dynamic communication, you know exactly when you sent it, the customer received it, and when they opened it. You can be sure the message has been delivered and read.
If you then put a call-to-action inside the document— such as “pay this invoice” or “upgrade to this service better suited to your needs”—you can determine if the message was successful based on whether the customer followed through on that action. If the message wasn’t successful, you will know that within a day or two, and you can change your approach accordingly.
With static communication, you have far less data to work with. You just don’t know the success of your communication. As a result, it can be hard to compare pre- and post-CCM. But one result I can report from E.ON is that in almost three years after introducing dynamic communications, the number of customers using the electronic format went from 8% to 22% (gas) and from 23% to 47% (power). We see similar results his with our other clients. For example, Enegan, which is another utility company, has seen a similar adoption of electronic formats since we began working with them on dynamic communication. The number of customers preferring electronic communications roughly doubled with them too. It’s a clear sign that this is the medium customers prefer.
Quadient Inspire Helps Us Grow Our Business
Quadient Inspire has enabled us to change how we serve our customers. Since the very beginning, I realized that the Quadient platform is very efficient and easy to use. Even for simple things like producing documents for printing, it’s the best option on the market.
Over the past decade, Quadient has always stayed a step in the evolution of the CCM business. The team at Quadient consistently provides us with a roadmap of the product’s capabilities and functionalities. Understanding what’s next for our industry—ahead of time—means more time for us to adapt.
My confidence in Quadient gives me more confidence in eGlue, since we know what’s around the corner. Working with Quadient has meant we don’t have to worry about the technology itself. Instead, we can focus on the business impact of the technology.
What’s Next on the Road of Digital Transformation?
Our experience so far tells us that any fears about digital potentially cannibalizing our print business were unfounded. Not only were we able to deepen relationships with existing customers, but our new capabilities allowed us to attract new customers as well.
At eGlue, we’ve come to realize this is just the beginning of our digital transformation. We still haven’t taken full advantage of the technology that’s available, so we’re looking at what we can adopt and integrate into our own systems next. How do we continue to improve our position in the market with digital? I’m looking at artificial intelligence, chat bots, and personalized video. We have to focus on communication that brings value to the customers: the final end users. The world moves faster everyday, so we have to keep up with that end user’s expectations. That means communication in real time.
As for what the future holds for CCM technology itself, I’m trying to envision it. I think it will be something intelligent enough that it creates itself in real time, according to what the customer wants at that precise moment. Those are the elements that define a good user experience: real time, according to the customer’s needs, and instantaneous. But whatever the future holds, I know we’ll adapt. We’ll be as dynamic as the communications we provide.