Commentary & Analysis
Transforming Statements into Sales Tools
By Pat McGrew July 17,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: July 17, 2006
By Pat McGrew July 17, 2006 -- Can your organization take advantage of TransPromo techniques to build a closer customer relationship and drive additional revenue? Every organization that produces bills and statements knows the costs associated with getting them processed, printed, and mailed. Timing is important because these customer communications are an essential part of the revenue cycle. Also, they are often the only interaction between the biller and the customer on a monthly basis. At the same time, these bills and statements are often treated as a necessary evil leading to processes that try to keep costs as low as possible. Offers must be well-defined with a clear call to action, and they must be relevant to the customer. When billers treat this essential communication vehicle as a cost center, they not only force print providers to treat the print and mail functions as a commodity, but they miss the most obvious opportunity to build a deeper relationship with the bill recipient. We know from a study (The Wasted Advertising Opportunity) done for Group 1 that bill recipients open the envelopes and spend time with the contents. While inserts may not attract as much attention, the bill itself averages 42.5 seconds of consideration and it may be reviewed several times during the billing cycle. Think about that for a moment. As a biller, you have a communication vehicle that gets into your customers' homes every month! It is an expected communication that is opened and reviewed. Now imagine turning that expected communication into a sales tool that not only provides information to the customer about their monthly transactions and amount due, but also identifies targeted offers that will be more likely to drive a response. Statement to Sales Tool If it sounds too good to be true, take a look in your own mail. You may find that some of the companies that you do business with have already tapped into the value of using what they know about you to not only provide your monthly transaction detail, but to use what that detail tells them to provide relevant marketing offers to you. Making them relevant is the most important part of these offers. How do you make the leap from informational statements to statements that build a closer relationship and function as sales tools? It takes a basic four-step approach that any organization can execute. Define a few groups based on demographic and find just a few offers with which to build experience. It starts with cooperation among the business application owners, the print providers, the marketing teams and the creative teams. For some organizations this is an entirely new approach to creating integrated customer communication because the billing applications have not been considered part of the overall communication strategy. For other organizations the legacy systems in use when the bills and statements were first created dictated the design and flexibility, and those designs have not been re-engineered to integrate with the marketing programs in place today. By bringing together the teams responsible for all facets of customer communication, the organization can reengineer and redesign the statement to ensure that the transaction component continues to provide the required data, while sufficient real estate for a marketing portal is added to the design. That portal turns the statement into a sales tool. Once you have the team assembled and you gain agreement on a new design that makes room for marketing offers, the challenge becomes creating those offers. The second key step is to create a team in the marketing organization whose mission is to analyze the currently available customer information and find demographic slices that can be addressed with available marketing opportunities. Those opportunities might be to up-sell or cross-sell other products and services from within the company, or they might include opportunities and offers from marketing partners. The offers must be well-defined with a clear call to action, and they must be relevant to the customer. But even beyond that, the marketing team must track the responses to the offers that are made and constantly work to define new offers. Finding new, relevant offers can be one of the biggest challenges in bringing TransPromo to bills and statements. To start, the best approach is to define a few groups based on demographic and find just a few offers with which to build experience. For example, if your organization bills for car loans or leases, define groups such as new customers, customers within nine months of the end of their agreement, and everyone else. For insurance statements you might look at age demographics. For credit cards you might look at some specific purchase pattern. Once you have defined the groups, find a few offers and run a test. This is where the third key element comes in: accountability. It is essential that you not only get the offer onto the appropriate bills and statements, but also that you track the offers that customers respond to. You will want to know if they respond, how quickly they respond, and the nature of the response. If they purchase another product or service, what is the value of that transaction? Accountability: Get the offer onto the appropriate bills then track the offers that customers respond to. The fourth element is commitment. Once you start the program of making offers on your bills and statements, you must follow through to build and maintain customer awareness of the offers and the loyalty that follows. Making it Happen To execute successfully you will need cooperation among all of the constituents of the bill, some well-defined offers, a method to track the response to the offers, and a commitment to refresh the offers in every cycle. In addition, from a technical perspective, it takes an understanding of your current document composition environment, your current business application responsible for generating your statement data, your customer databases, and the facilities available to assign business rules to marketing offers based on what you know about your customers. The owners of the lines of business that generate the bills and statements usually have most of this information at their fingertips. The next step is to bring all of this knowledge to the table with the business application owners, the print providers, the marketing teams and the creative teams, and develop a plan of action that starts with the redesign of the statements. So, can your organization take advantage of TransPromo techniques to build a closer customer relationship and drive additional revenue? The answer is yes!