If your organization prepares and provides activity statements and other types of customer account documents, then you know electronic communications are no longer merely “nice to have” but an absolute “must.” A new generation of consumers is accustomed to having online access to their information from wherever they are, whenever they want it, and the failure to offer it – or, worse, the offering of a poorly-conceived or badly designed way to have it – will send your patrons scurrying to a competitor.
Fortunately, there are three business dynamics at work that make the decision to go “e” a no-brainer.
The first of these is centered on the growing penetration of smart mobile devices, which can be, and increasingly are being, used as points of customer contact. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, “56% of American adults are now smartphone owners.” This is the first time since that esteemed organization began systematically tracking smartphone adoption that a majority of Americans now own a smartphone, and a similar trend can be seen with tablets (owned by 42% of Americans) and e-readers (owned by 32%).
These statistics provide clear evidence that a significant number of your customers likely are equipped to interact with you anytime and anywhere they have a need. Your job is to accommodate them to the greatest degree possible, and whether it is via a native or a Web app, there are no remaining excuses for not doing so.
Even the old excuse of added expense doesn’t apply the way it once did, for the move away from paper and toward digital delivery provides excellent synchronicity with the latest imperatives to cut costs. At the barest minimum, sending documents electronically means you theoretically can eliminate every expense related to traditional print and mail operations since there’s no paper or ink to buy, no folding and stuffing machines to power (nor people to run them), and no postage to pay.
Though these savings accrue right away, they do come at an offsetting price, as investments typically need to be made in data management tools and personnel to effect the changeover. But in the larger scheme of things, the advantages associated with going digital usually more than outweigh the costs, given what it can do to support mobile engagement and more.
A big part of the “more” here is the ability to use electronic communications to collect intelligence about your customers while they interact with you. Whether you’re reaching them on a desktop computer or a smart mobile device, your paperless presentation allows you to track what they search for, what they click on, how long they spend on particular pages, and so forth – and it does so over time, so you can see how their interests and activities evolve over time.
This information feeds directly into the all-important issue of customer service by enabling you to provide ever more relevant responses to their inquiries and, better still, anticipate their needs. It also positions you to better target up- and cross-selling messages by properly matching your offerings to their demonstrated interests.
The beauty of all this is that moving from paper-based to electronic communications doesn’t change your fundamental business process at all since you still must prepare statements and documents as you always have. The difference is that communicating digitally lets you accompany your customers wherever they go by maintaining a presence on their mobile devices and sustaining a connection with them after the message is sent. These are advantages that are not achievable when you use paper – and since can save money in the process, it’s no wonder that it’s getting to be more than just “nice to have”!