One of our customers, a wealth management company, recently completed its first statement run after redesigning its documents and making an effort to entice customers into going paperless.
It resulted in the company producing 2.3 million fewer pages. I am told this is the equivalent of a 5,300kg reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The customer believes it will save $5m over five years, a direct result of its dramatic reduction in printing and postage costs.
My own real-world mailbox is regularly stuffed with material that could be sent electronically both easily and cheaply.
Even if customers cannot get rid of paper, many can make reductions. There are websites that calculate the carbon footprint of the materials you mail to your customers.
Electronic media also allow you to communicate quickly and can allow interactivity. Meanwhile, Web 2.0 encourages companies to employ technologies such as text messaging, web pages, customer portals and RSS feeds.
Take the time to explore the characteristics of different channels and tailor your communications accordingly.
You should be able to repurpose content across different media, but each communication should exploit the characteristics of each medium.
Begin by examining your customer communications. Focus on routine documents and correspondence that can be readily converted to electronic channels. Also, consider communications that would greatly benefit from electronic delivery. Survey your customers to better understand their needs and preferences.
You will likely find you can improve customer service while reducing costs and avoiding damage to the environment. Your customers may well applaud your efforts to become greener.
Explore how you are generating customer communications. Chances are, you are supporting several legacy print-based systems or even homegrown correspondence systems based on Microsoft Word.
Often these systems are redundant, expensive to maintain and difficult to adapt to electronic delivery channels.
Document output management technologies can help companies better and more efficiently manage customer communications.
Select one that can be deployed quickly and will scale to meet long-term needs.
Pick a place to get started. Why not commit to a near-term target of moving 10 or even 20 per cent of your communications across to electronic channels?
Chris McLaughlin is senior vice president at Thunderhead
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