The real value of a document

Every day hundreds and thousands of documents leave UK organisations establishing and maintaining relationships with customers, suppliers and employees. Invoices, reward statements, health care appointments; whether your communications are to prompt action, share important information or confirm and authenticate activity, your documents are much more than just words on the page.

You have a responsibility of sending planned and expected communications that contain personal and sensitive information. You also have a wealth of data in your business systems that could create engaging documents that are relevant and personal. The documents you send have an impact on the lives of the people who receive them. So it’s important they’re engaging and timely.

Put simply, the documents you send are conveying more than information; they carry your reputation, productivity and potentially profit. Get it wrong and it costs (look out for our forthcoming blog about the cost of inaccurate documents), get it right and you can quickly reap the benefits of more efficient, cost effective and engaging communications.

So how can you make your documents work harder and achieve more?

Unlock the value of your documents:     

Personalisation: People are increasingly savvy about what they read, when they read it and how. Everyday they’re receiving communications across print and digital channels. Newsletters, statements, and policies, your communications have to cut through the noise and keep their attention. Your documents need to be clear, compelling and most importantly, relevant to them as individuals. Personalised communications show you understand them, their needs and the importance of the information you’re providing them.

And personalisation doesn’t just mean including the name of the person you’re writing to, you need to include information that is relevant and of value. For example, if you’re invoicing a customer for the first time then you could provide instructions on how to set up a direct debit for future payments. Or if you’ve recently updated you’re organisations benefits package, instead of sending information about all the benefits on offer, based on the employee data you hold, only include benefits that are relevant to each individual employee, i.e. young employees who have recently left education might not be interested in childcare vouchers, but would be interested to hear about cinema discounts.

Data driven: Data is the basis of the documents you create. If your systems are unable to output complex data in to dynamic and personalised documents you could be limited to sending generic, long and wordy communications. Accurate data-rich documents are not only more cost effective and efficient in terms of processing but also enhance the relevance and personalised experience of the reader.

If existing business systems are unable to output the information you need in an engaging format doesn’t mean you need to invest in a different system. There are document automation solutions available that can work with your existing systems to select the appropriate letterheads, inserts and dynamic content, to create highly personalised documents.

Accurate and trusted: Maintaining and demonstrating the security and integrity of the documents you send is vital. The ability to present and distribute documents in a secure online environment, or printed in a secure production facility, will heighten your recipients trust. By implementing document automation processes which ensure the accuracy of content, as well as tracking and controlling delivery, will not only cut costs but can also ensure that the right person receives the right document at the right time.

For example, sending an invoice that has a £0 value will lead to a confused customer ringing your customer service department. Putting automation rules in place to reject any documents with a £0 value from being produced, will help reduce time spent on handling queries and the cost to resend corrected documents.

Delivered to suit: Whether it’s an invoice to be paid, an appointment notification which needs a response or policy documents which need to be confirmed, your message is more likely reach a reader more effectively if it’s through a channel that suits them. Delivering engaging, accurate and timely information via digital and print channels, depending on preference, delivers stronger engagement.

Remember your communications should be digital-first, not digitally exclusive. Sometimes the pressure to go ‘digital’ can alienate those who are either unable to access digital communications or just prefer to receive a printed copy. By simply putting flags in the data, automation tools can identify a recipient’s channel preference and automatically present their document online or print and post it.

Your communications are vital to developing constant and meaningful interactions with customers, employees and suppliers. Making the most of the information you hold and the way you communicate it is now a business imperative.

Just as we have to rethink and reposition what a document has to achieve so too should we address the way we create these data-rich, sensitive correspondence. Automation and digital technologies are providing these real solutions. To find out more about how you could harness document automation to work with your current legacy systems to streamline your operations, improve scalability and maximise the value of your documents read our blog ‘How to do more with your documents’.

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