Solving Customer Communications Challenges with Hybrid Mail
Ernie Crawford | April 14, 2021
Even the most digitally transformed insurance organizations still rely on personalized letters and general correspondence to reach customers who prefer to be contacted by mail. Many insurers struggle with coordinating these communications because they’re often generated in small batches, or even one piece at a time. When COVID hit, the process became even more complicated for employees working from home.
Luckily, there’s a hybrid mail solution that can reduce costs, compliance risks and inconvenience of WFH and remote office business correspondence. Here’s how one carrier solved the problem.
A large U.S. property/casualty insurer has 10,000 employees and 2,000 agents and sales representatives in several states, many of whom interact directly with customers and vendors through both printed and electronic communications. This made it challenging to efficiently create and mail ad hoc client communications such as personalized letters, general correspondence, and other smaller pieces. Ad hoc customer communications differ from high-volume transactional mail, such as regular monthly or quarterly invoices and statements, because they’re often generated in small batches or even one piece at a time, which is time consuming. Since the process of preparing these for mailing was manual, it was also error prone.
Typical of many businesses, no single employee “owned” the process of overseeing these varied communications from start to finish, resulting in a lack of accountability and no secure audit trail to ensure adherence to corporate branding or even regulatory compliance. The expenses associated with the labor, paper, printers, ink/toner, postage and mailing machines was incurred by each individual department and location with little understanding of the total spend. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, these difficulties multiplied.
While this insurer was well into its digital transformation initiatives, the company had not considered its paper-based processes. Employees were challenged with the creation and processing of ad hoc correspondence while they adapted to their new work from home (WFH) environments. With individual and small batch mail processing no longer managed by individual departments, the CIO was tasked with ensuring employees, including the customer service reps, had the tools necessary to process the correspondence from their WFH environments and still seamlessly deliver a positive customer experience.
Seeking a solution, the CIO identified three significant requirements:
- Minimizing the costs and difficulty WFH employees experienced when creating and distributing ad hoc customer communications, while maintaining a seamless customer experience
- Minimizing the organizational costs and operational logistics to support hundreds of WFH employees
- Mitigating the risk of non-compliance with various regulations and ensuring correspondence is generated in adherence with company policies.
Initially, providing each WFH employee with laptops, printers, supplies, ink, etc. seemed the simplest solution. However, it quickly became clear that this would create significant hassles for both management and employees. Management had to consider the ongoing costs and logistical challenges of providing all the equipment and supplies needed to support staff in hundreds of home offices. Then, given the unsupervised WFH environment, manual procedures could expose the organization to compliance risks and difficulties in capturing and tracking all the correspondence. Employees also were at risk of inadvertent compliance infractions due to a lack of data privacy controls and procedures, as well as productivity losses and potential health risks resulting from trips to the post office.
After researching for a potential solution, the insurer deployed Crawford Technologies' Smart MailHub, a hybrid mail solution to help reduce the costs, compliance risks, and inconvenience of WFH and remote office business correspondence.
Smart MailHub enables WFH users to easily generate desktop correspondence that must be printed and mailed or distributed electronically. With an easy-to-use interface, correspondence is created, sent, and consolidated from remote WFH locations to a virtual “printer” -- the insurer’s centralized production facility -- to automate the printing, handling, and fulfillment of the correspondence, eliminating the need for remote workers to do all this work manually.
To ensure proper corporate branding and compliance with business policies, the insurer can configure the software with appropriate templates, specific settings, and user authorizations. Information about each mail piece and its contents is captured, allowing WFH employees to quickly identify the documents’s location in the production queue, when it was sent, and to view an image of the mail piece via a web-based job tracking portal. All correspondence is stored in the insurer’s existing archive system for future reference.
The insurer’s staff reports that Smart MailHub is easy to use and allows them to be more productive without having to print, mail, track, and archive communications. Based on initial results, the insurer expects to gain approximately 3,000 labor hours per quarter, in addition to the peace of mind resulting from the ability to confirm compliance with multiple regulations including SOX, CCPA and SEC.
The insurer has also minimized the hidden costs of manually printing and processing the correspondence, including eliminating the need to print and distribute preprinted forms and envelopes. Based on current metrics, the insurer expects savings of $80,000 per month on this alone. By processing its ad hoc customer communications through its centralized print production facility, the company has not only increased the production volume on those systems, but it has also been able to realize deeper postal discounts, resulting in a projected annual postage savings of $75,000.
There was one more piece of good news for this insurer: Smart MailHub paid for itself in fewer than five months.
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