Choosing the Best Customer Communications Provider for Your Business
Is your current customer communications provider meeting your expectations or is it time to assess your current program costs against the market through a RFP? No matter the reason – if you are looking for a customer communications provider, do you know what questions to ask to make sure your next provider meets your needs and expectations?
The logical starting point when assessing a provider is capabilities – can they do what I need them to do? The answer is not a simple one though, with “what I need them to do” encompassing print and electronic communication needs, as well as critical support services such as programming, data processing, mailing, archiving and account management. The complete package of capabilities and support services should be assessed to determine if the full gamut of your needs can be met.
Is the potential provider “single source”, providing all the services you require through one point of contact, or will you have to manage and coordinate multiple providers, and keep multiple databases current, to successfully execute your communication programs and be compliant? Also, what tools do they provide for collaborative communication and access to information? If the provider is not a single source, will you have to access multiple tools to get the full picture for approvals, job status and confirmations?
With increased regulatory requirements, the pressure – and associated risk – is greater than ever to ensure processes are compliant and customer data is secure at all times. Does your potential provider have the required security and compliance procedures, as well as the quality controls, in place to mitigate your risk? Many potential providers have the basic production capabilities, but lack the understanding of the complex security and compliance requirements. For instance, a direct mail service provider can print and mail your program but direct mail does not require the same level of data security and they typically have little to no experience managing compliance.
The best indicator of whether a potential provider is potentially a good match for your needs? Do they have an established track record managing on-boarding and implementing, as well as sustaining recurring execution and executing similar programs for clients in the same or similar markets as you, with similar compliance and security requirements? If not, you will have to determine if you want to be their test case.
The last, but certainly not least, question you should ask—is the potential provider financially stable? This is important for two reasons – viability and investment. With regards to viability, is the provider’s financial health strong enough to ensure they will remain in business for the length of your contract? Given how much time, effort and expense you will incur just to get started with a provider, you will want to ensure you get a payoff. With regards to investment, does the provider have a demonstrated track record of continual investment in their capabilities to stay current? And, what are their plans for continued investment to meet your changing customer preferences and communication program needs to remain competitive and provide the best customer experience?
Still have questions? We’d be glad to answer your questions to make sure you are asking the right questions when assessing potential provider partners. Contact Venture at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.728.2615.