Image by: Stuart Jenner, ©2015 Getty Images

The idea of using documents to speak to customers directly is nothing new. Since the late 90s, momentum has been building to use personalization and relevant messaging to connect more closely with customers. We know by now that organizations using customer information to communicate one-on-one—and through multiple channels—will support a positive customer experience, with the hopes of retention and loyalty being the happy result. This is all good stuff, but it still begs the question: Can we do more with our documents beyond personalization to ensure they are revenue drivers?

Today, convergent statements (combining transactional information, direct mail and marketing into one document) are becoming more common, which means the number of touchpoints with customers is actually decreasing—and the value of a single touchpoint is increasing. This makes the way you incorporate your messaging even more critical when it comes to connecting with customers. This is particularly true for financial services, and now, insurance companies are getting on board. The key to this shift has much to do with the advancement of technology, which enables the ability to create more sophisticated documents that are designed to drive revenue.

A good example is healthcare statements. When it comes to understanding healthcare coverage, consumers have a lot to consider. We have all experienced what it’s like to review the overwhelming variety of plans to choose from, with options usually presented in a tangle of industry-specific jargon. Consumers need to make smart healthcare decisions that protect their finances as well as their health, but it is hard to do if the information is incomprehensible. In return, revenue opportunities for benefit companies can’t help but suffer.

Documents can drive revenue if you incorporate plain language writing and proven information design principles to create truly personalized communications that are functional.

One way to avoid this confusion—and lack of participation because of it—is to make coverage options understandable by finding creative ways to deliver information. Some examples might be to incorporate enhanced visual appeal using color and iconography that are accompanied by a legend for easy-to-follow navigation. Educational messages on things such as diabetes or heart issues, based on the recipient’s recent medical activities and purchases, will create an immediate connection, as would relevant images on these topics, such as a picture of each type of pill included in a person’s prescription pricing. Of course, be sure to apply plain language to all content, as discussed in my last column.

It’s one thing to plan to make changes to your statements, such as the ones above; it’s another thing to put them into action. Is it worth the time? The answer to that is yes. One healthcare company that implemented similar types of changes on its healthcare statements reported $10 million in savings by eliminating other monthly mailings on health issues, a 17% increase in sales of benefits packages, a 14% increase in member retention and a 42% shift from brand to generic drugs (compared to a 10% norm), resulting in enormous savings to the company.

Documents can drive revenue if you incorporate plain language writing and proven information design principles to create truly personalized communications that are functional. Even regulatory documents can be transformed into powerful marketing and retention tools. If you ensure that your communications are readable, understandable—and inspire the desired response to a call to action—the potential to save money and ensure a meaningful return on investment is great.

Nick Romano specializes in business process reengineering for enterprises migrating to new document delivery solutions. His primary expertise is on implementing messaging and personalization strategies, workflows and ROI tracking. He is a popular international speaker on the implementation of successful document solutions, with topics ranging from design, messaging and personalization to shop floor automation and advances in document delivery. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario with a bachelor's degree in engineering and management. Follow him on Twitter @nickrprinova.

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