Get The Most Out of Your Print-Mail Vendor
In the world of Credit and Collections, outsourcing the collection letter and print-mail process has been an industry trend for many of the collection industry leaders. As with outsourcing IT functions or call centers, outsourcing the print-mail process of an organization can have a dramatic effect on collection efforts. With a skilled and experienced print-mail vendor the generation and rendering of collection letters and other time-sensitive communications can become an efficient streamlined process. This article highlights the benefits of partnering with a print-mail vendor and describes additional services that should be offered in order to have a considerable impact on your bottom line.
In the wide spectrum of print-mail vendors, most offer a standard suite of services such as: data processing, high-speed laser printing, address cleansing and Presorted First Class mail delivery for their clients. While these remain the most important components that prospects look for in a vendor, only the industry specialists offer advanced services including: superior graphic design and creative services, address verification and correction services, return mail management, integrated skip tracing, enhanced tracking systems and online capabilities. These ancillary services, coupled with industry expertise in print technology, have had a proven impact on collection operations through dramatic returns on investments, and it is these additional services for which we will focus.
The objective for a graphic design team is to recreate a collection letter or statement so that it attracts the debtor’s attention and is more likely to be opened. An in-house graphic design department would analyze an organizations collection documents to determine how they can be customized to create a more professional and sophisticated look. Simply altering the color, stock or layout of a document can considerably impact debtor response and in turn enhance collections. According to the Credit & Collections World website, in an article entitled Stacks and Stacks of Letters by Ann McDonald, “just changing the way a collections letter looks can increase chances of getting a debtor to open and pay the notice. For example, a collections operation may get a better response from a beige letter and envelope compared to a white letter and envelope”. A seasoned print-mail partner can provide suggestions as to how specific colors or document layouts will be advantageous to your collections operation.
Advanced address verification and correction is one of the most important aspects to any collection effort. A knowledgeable vendor will improve the timeliness of payments and minimize undeliverables by offering address hygiene services. Two standard enhancements designed to dramatically improve the deliverability of your mail include FASTforward® and National Change of Address (NCOA).
A print-mail vendor should be a licensed provider of FASTforward® which is a technology for address correction as well as a forwarding service. This process accesses the United States Postal Service Database and searches all change of address records filed with the USPS during the preceding 8 months. All changed addresses are corrected and documents are then mailed to the corrected address.
NCOA represents a database with more than 115 million records of permanent address changes spanning the past 48 months. As with the FASTforward® service, your address files are compared against the database so that all changed addresses are corrected and documents are mailed to the current address. While NCOA is an industry standard and widely available, select vendors take this capability one step further. The correction of an erroneous address is made to your correspondence and is automatically mailed to the new address while at the same time the new address information is transmitted back to the client’s system. The advantages are obvious—and the savings significant. This enhancement:
- Provides faster payments from debtors who have moved
- Eliminates manual posting of address changes
- Reduces address correction costs
- Ensures faster delivery of letters and other communications
- Reduces the number of return (undeliverable) mail pieces
As an essential component to a collection operation, the address verification and correction service ensures collection letters are reaching the debtors promptly and at the appropriate location.
A single source print-mail vendor should also help manage and reduce returned mail costs by delivering a total mail processing solution. This level of service will improve the efficiency of your collection efforts through:
- Significant cost savings and automated processing of returned mail
- Reduced costs associated with mailing additional documents to invalid addresses
- Timely processing of undeliverable mail which ensures faster delivery of letters and other communications
The manual task of updating and correcting erroneous addresses is eliminated with an automated return mail process. A return mail automation service is an excellent way for collection organizations to save time and money.
Print-Mail vendors that offer a planet code tracking system to their clients are affording collection operations the ability to allocate resources more intelligently. A product of the US Postal Service (USPS), CONFIRM® allows collection operations to uniquely identify and track outgoing notices and invoices and incoming payments through the postal system. This service allows for:
- Easy online access to near real-time information
- Powerful cash flow management
- End-to-End document tracking
CONFIRM® works by tracking a PLANET™ code barcode, added by the print-mail vendor to the front of the mail, above the recipient address. When the mail reaches USPS processing equipment, the PLANET code is scanned along with the standard POSTNET Code, providing information about the processing facility, operation number, processing date and time. The service alerts clients when their outgoing mail – a letter, statement, invoice or other collection document – is about to be delivered. With this advanced notice, collection operations can synchronize telemarketing and identify trends that help measure delivery times within specific regions of the country. Finally, the service provides advance notice of incoming reply mail, which allows clients to anticipate and manage cash flow and accounts receivable more effectively as well as reduce costs associated with mailing multiple collection notices.
With online capabilities your organization will be able to enhance customer interactions by providing your representatives with a fast, efficient method to access processed collection letters and other time-sensitive communications. The benefits of an online electronic repository of your letter library include:
- Improve staff productivity
- Increase collection results
- Provides an easy method for immediate viewing and printing of historical documents, reports and letters.
- Dramatically reduces the need to print and store paper records
The capability to view actual processed documents serves as an efficient real-time tool for any collection operation.
A print-mail outsource partner should be able to deliver a seamless, client-defined solution that amplifies an organizations collection efforts. Custom graphic designs, address hygiene services, return mail management solutions, skip tracing capabilities, advanced tracking techniques and online capabilities will offer value added services to any print-mail process.