How do you communicate with your customers to make sure they stay happy and keep on being your customers, asks Kate Bell.

Having a joined-up system for managing business communications can save time and money as well as ensuring the communications work, according to Julie Mitchell, Managing Director of Greenbelt. Greenbelt is a company that manages land in more than 750 greenbelt areas across the UK with the aim of maintaining the land in a way that will sustain the local environment whilst catering to the needs of residents.

The company was already a Pitney Bowes customer for franking technology, but recently decided to explore automating the entire process from production onwards. Greenbelt now uses Pitney Bowes software to create and print the documents before setting them to be automatically distributed via fax, post or email and then archived for future reference and re-use.

Mitchell explains, “70% of the mail we send is invoices, which all follow the same format. Using the new technology we can automatically merge the new data with the existing templates before choosing to add current marketing messages.
So, for companies like us that produce lots of similar documents regularly, this solution is ideal.”

For the paper-based option, once the letters have been created they are passed to a mail inserter that reads the security marks made by the printing software to ensure that the right letter is inserted into the right envelope. This not only avoids alignment errors but also saves time. “Before we invested in this technology my staff were spending hours manually folding and inserting letters”, says Mitchell. “And of course, there is always an element of human error, especially when you consider that we send around 5,000 letters a month. My staff can now concentrate on far more important tasks.”

Colour makes a difference

Once in the envelopes, the letters are then passed to a colour franking machine that means the company can include colour advertising on the envelope. “We had no idea that it was even possible to include colour images and text on the outside of envelopes”, says Mitchell. “We can include the company logo on the mail so the recipient immediately recognises who the mail is from – they realise that it’s important. Also, we think that it makes the mail look more professional, and the machine is really easy to use.”

The franking machine weighs the mail to ensure the right amount of postage has been paid and has an accounting facility so the company can keep track of how much is being spent. Added to efficiencies, there are some clear cost benefits: by using a franking machine, Greenbelt saves £9,600 per annum over stamps, plus they are able to access a bulk mailing discount offered by the Royal Mail which reduces costs by a further 4.2p on each first class letter they send. All in all, this equates to an annual saving of £12,120 – a considerable sum for any small business.

Mitchell summarises, “We had no idea that all this technology was available to us. Our previous franking machine was fine for franking the mail, but it’s only now that we’ve realised how much time we were putting into the other tasks – the document creation, the folding, the inserting. We now have a complete end-to-end solution to do most of the work for us and this has enabled us to run the business more effectively. It’s been a real eye-opener and I’d definitely recommend that other businesses take advantage of the technology – the benefits are huge.”