Thriving through accelerated change

Sof Tsigaride, enterprise mail business development manager (UK), Quadient
Wednesday, October 27, 2021

This past year has accelerated change affecting the printing industry. Quadient’s Sof Tsigarides explores driving new revenue streams, enabling production efficiencies and growing existing business.

Customer communications are going through a rapid change
Customer communications are going through a rapid change

Consumers’ expectations of communications are changing, and enterprises are adapting as a result. More of people’s lives moved online as a result of the pandemic and this further stimulated an already growing demand for digital communications.

At the same time, wide-scale homeworking affects companies’ abilities to get communications out, driving a potential new and increased demand for direct mail services and other print, production and mailing outsourcing.

Analyst firm Aspire looked at this, and a range of other communications trends, in a research study into the new digital reality and customer communications in a time of rapid change. It found that remote management of communications was a change that was either already underway, or was planned, by more than a third of enterprises responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Print service providers (PSPs) that equip themselves for digital, while continuing to deliver high-volume printed mailings, become ‘print and mail providers’. This takes flexible operations that can adapt to deliver a range of jobs, cater for inbound as well as outbound mail, and meet a rising demand for outsourced print. To thrive through change, print and mail providers need equipment and processes that enable:

1. Production outbound mailing

Print is still relevant and important for customer communications. However, print jobs are likely to have higher levels of personalisation and may be complex with a range of document inserts, some standard some common.

Demand for personalisation must be met in a way that scales. Manual order fulfilment processes are likely to be slow, unscalable and potentially error-prone. This is unsustainable - mailings must be accurate, and produced and distributed using processes that are auditable.

Most clients will expect progress reports with a high degree of detail, identifying which documents went into each mailing. This is important for corporate reputation and standing with customers but also compliance with a range of industry specific and data protection regulation.

2. Adaptability

Companies expect a rapid and flexible turnaround of some jobs, short runs as well as the more traditional bulk mailings, and the ability to deliver on increasingly complex requirements.

Digital is important, but it isn’t just that more people expect emails instead of post. There is also a shift towards many online transactional interactions with secure portals and apps joining the multi-channel communications mix.

3. Support for hybrid mail

Digital as well as print is now core business for mail fulfilment houses. In fact, Aspire’s findings showed a 35 per cent increase in the importance of digital transformation to enterprise’s strategic objectives before and after the advent of COVID-19.

For print and mail providers, this means offering email fulfilment, but digital can also extend to text notifications, links to customer portals and other communications forms.

Digital delivery may be the end result but to get there, print and mail providers will receive client work digitally, convert to print for physical mail and a range of electronic formats for digital, issue to the correct customer each time and deal with any returns. This includes capturing details of communications that go undelivered and immediately fulfilling via alternative means.

4. Inbound handling

Some enterprises outsource communications end-to-end so that they can focus on their core business. This is an opportunity for print and mail providers to grow their business by offering management of the complete communications lifecycle.

Handling inbound communications – print or digital – from clients’ customers may be a significant departure from traditional outbound print. However, taking that step provides strength in depth by diversifying the business to provide a full service offering and meet the additional needs of an existing customer base.

The right mix of equipment and software supports print and mail providers in seamlessly delivering print, digital and hybrid jobs at scale. It enables rapid switching between jobs with minimal downtime. As print and mail demands change, robust and flexible operations equip providers to meet the demands of existing business, deliver efficiencies and generate new revenue.


About the author Sof is a print service provider (PSP) and mailing sector specialist with over 35 years of experience helping businesses grow their customer offerings, access new revenue streams and improve operational efficiencies. Sof’s experience in high-pressure, high-production print and communications environments spans advanced continuous and cut sheet print and mail systems, and digital and physical outbound and inbound communications handling. At Quadient, Sof is dedicated to helping print and mail businesses generate higher margins and support new business acquisition by streamlining workflows and maximising mail efficiencies.

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