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Client Relationships and Mail Management

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What You Need to Know

  • Many consumers prefer to get insurance statements through the post.
  • Anyone who sends much mail needs to know about the Intelligent Mail Indicia.
  • When something goes wrong, an auditable chain of custody for financial documents may help.

COVID-19 has inspired dramatic changes in the ways financial services and insurance professionals interact with clients. Financial services and insurance professionals have long relied on face-to-face interactions to cement relationships with clients.

However, social distancing requirements have compelled many to shift to virtual meetings using video chat and phone calls. If recent research is any indication, leveraging printed communications can be an effective way to supplement digital interactions, particularly when it comes to transactional financial documents. In a survey conducted by Consumer Action, the majority of respondents preferred receiving insurance and financial statements by mail compared to digital communications.

With more insurance agents, brokers and financial consultants working from home, many are relying on printed communications to reinforce client relationships, while outsourcing administrative functions, including mail-related services. Outsourcing mail services and adopting hybrid mail management solutions can bring increased efficiency and cost savings. Additionally, tracking mail with an auditable chain of custody and complying with new federal Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) standards will also save money and help avoid mail being returned, which improves cash flow and customer satisfaction.

Communicating Effectively at a Distance

The preference for print reinforces client relationships throughout the customer journey. Physical newsletters are a persuasive medium for communicating COVID-19 recommendations and keeping clients informed about new products and services, not least because clients spend more time reviewing printed communications than digital. In the Consumer Action survey, 78% of respondents reviewed printed bills compared to 43% for electronic statements. In addition, many transactional documents still require physical signatures.

While physical communications have benefits, particularly when leveraged in conjunction with digital channels, failing to secure sensitive data comes with a hefty price tag. Government agencies at the international, federal and state levels have been proactive in fining businesses for data breaches involving financial information\.

For insurance and financial professionals, ensuring that sensitive information ends up in the right hands is critical to avoiding costly fines and the loss of consumer trust that comes with a high-profile data breach. With more advisors working from home, having an auditable chain of custody when mailing financial documents has become even more important. At the same time, many workers still rely on manual processes to send mail. As a result, they don’t always take advantage of the robust mail piece integrity and tracking information offered by the USPS.

Evaluating Mailing Options

Shipping companies have long enjoyed a reputation for providing superior tracking information, but the USPS offers equivalent service at less cost. For example, the flat-rate, hard-sided envelope that many advisors use to send financial documents currently costs approximately 18% less when shipped through USPS. The secret to the detailed tracking information provided by the USPS lies in the Intelligent Mail package barcodes (IMpb) that USPS uses on its scannable labels. New smart mailing solutions will ensure USPS tracking data is made available to the sender.

While financial services and insurance professionals appreciate the rates of USPS, they don’t necessarily want to assume responsibility for shipping and tracking mail. With social distancing measures still in force, businesses may not be able to rely on administrative staff as much to mail transactional communications and some are now outsourcing mail services. This shift has required businesses to develop hybrid mail options using smaller postage meters that can be employed in home offices, as well as online subscriptions to third-party mail fulfillment services.

To comply with IMI standards and take full advantage of hybrid mail options, businesses will need to work with vendors that provide IMI-certified postage meters. There are many benefits of IMI-certified postage meters that go beyond compliance with new USPS standards. The first is that with IMI, all mail and postage are automatically calculated based on service class, which means advisors no longer have to worry about incorrect postage amounts and mail being returned

Clients receive their mail faster and senders will get quicker action from them. Additionally, mailing systems using IMI are required by the USPS to connect to the manufacturer’s servers regularly. This ensures equipment is automatically kept up to date with rate changes and other software improvements. IMI meters also meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) for data encryption so that information is transmitted securely to and from the postage meter.

Mail management software that includes digital communications capabilities can facilitate the outsourcing of mail services. This type of solution provides a single, centralized, company-controlled mailing and shipping account that can be accessed remotely, alleviating much of the burden of managing mail services while providing the chain of custody businesses require when dealing with sensitive customer and financial information.

Adopting a centralized, digitally enabled mail management solution can also dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to manage charge backs from shipping companies. Because mail management systems automate much of the process, advisors no longer need to manually charge back packages to multiple, individual accounts. When you consider that each shipping company requires its own charge backs, the time spent on this manual task can consume several hours of time. Automating and digitally enabling mailing and shipping accounting can help you recover that time.

COVID-19 has disrupted the way financial and insurance professionals interact with clients, but it also presents new opportunities to build relationships with customers. By combining print with digital communications and leveraging mail management services, financial services and insurance professionals can take advantage of new efficiencies and cost savings associated with hybrid mail solutions while complying with data privacy and USPS IMI requirements.


Alain FairiseAlain Fairise is chief solution officer for mail-related solutions at Quadient, a mailing equipment company.

(Photo: metamorworks/Shutterstock.com)