Achieving a Collaborative Approach When Outsourcing Customer Communications

By Michael Watts, COO, GMC Software Technology

In response to a challenging market environment, insurers have turned their focus to pursuing initiatives that will provide a continual stream of organizational benefits resulting from improved operational excellence, innovation, and a customer-centric approach. One strategy many insurance organizations are considering to achieve greater operational excellence is to adopt business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions, including print/mail fulfillment.

If done correctly, outsourcing print/mail operations will help enable the innovation, agility, and cost containment that will deliver a competitive advantage. By outsourcing, an insurance organization is relieved of the burden of having to manage and conduct a capital-intensive process that is not a strategic focus of its business. In addition to being cost-effective, this frees organizational resources that can be redirected toward innovation and core-business objectives.

While outsourcing print/mail fulfillment has many potential advantages, it is important to ensure that the benefits of outsourcing do not come at the expense of a customer-centric communications strategy. One of the main challenges that arises for companies when they outsource their customer communications is that they risk losing the control, speed to market, and relevance of their documents and messages-their main points of contact with the customer.

Taking a collaborative approach to outsourcing

There is much to be said for retaining the ability to access and control your organization�s data and documents to create effective communications. Every customer contact presents the opportunity to improve the customer experience, tap new markets, and differentiate from the competition. And no one is more knowledgeable than your own employees about your organization�s offerings, your communication strategies, and the key messaging for your customers. That is why a collaborative approach-what we refer to as “outsourcing with control”-is an excellent choice when outsourcing customer communications.

A successful collaborative outsourcing strategy will leverage the power of your non-technical, customer-focused employees to design, deliver, and maintain meaningful personalized customer communications while meeting the business and technical requirements of your print/mail provider to ensure optimum delivery. In this way, the organization can maintain the flexibility and autonomy to complete interactive, point-of-need, personalized documents for its customers while ensuring accuracy and costs are controlled through centralized production and fulfillment.

Another consideration is having the ability to leverage the power of multichannel campaigns. Whether the recipient likes paper (mail), electronic (e-mail, Internet), mobile devices, or a combination of these channels, being able to meet delivery preferences is essential for enhancing the customer experience. When outsourcing this function it is critically important to evaluate closely your vendor partner�s capabilities to ensure they can meet client communication needs in the areas of agility, flexibility, and control. With policy statements and related correspondence being a vital communication vehicle between an insurance organization and its customers, employing “agile billing”-the ability to maintain flexibility and control of documents while enjoying the cost benefits of outsourcing physical printing and fulfillment-is simply good business.

Ensuring a smooth transition to an outsourced print/mail fulfillment solution

Transitioning from an internal print/mail operation to an outsourced customer communication program can be a challenging process. Having a communications management platform that is easily configurable will reduce the time frame for migration of legacy documents and minimize the risk of brand inconsistency during the transition. A platform that is intuitive and easy to use will also lower the learning curve for employees, improving the rate of adoption and minimizing disruptions during the transition.

Communications management platforms are available that eliminate cumbersome, slow manual processes, accelerating time to market with policyholder information. Compliance can be ensured with the ability to include or exclude specific content based on effective dates to support changing regulations. Additionally, having the operational dexterity to make simple changes on individual customer or broker communications-and the scalability needed to meet the dynamic requirements of your business-enables rapid adaptation to market and regulatory conditions as they occur.

With a collaborative approach to outsourcing customer communications, your organization can ensure that it does not risk losing control over the responsiveness and relevance of its documents and customer messages. Implementing a well-planned and collaborative customer communications strategy with the right vendor partner will ensure that every communication will not only be cost-effective, but will also take advantage of the opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Michael Watts is COO for GMC Software Technology, a provider of customer communications and output management solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]

About GMC Software Technology

GMC Software Technology delivers the most effective solutions in the field of Customer Communications Management (CCM). With unrivalled experience in the industry, GMC has consistently demonstrated the ability to help businesses increase customer engagement across all touchpoints. The company�s CCM platform, GMC Inspire, enables enterprises to deliver relevant communications, at the right time, through the preferred channel for every customer � driving customer loyalty, acquisition and operational efficiency. For more information visit www.gmc.net.

Michael Watts is COO for GMC Software Technology, a provider of customer communications and output management solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]