The benefits of collaboration when reaching out to customers.


Today, a carefully planned customer communications strategy needs to be an integral part of every healthcare business model; how best to efficiently and cost effectively implement one is part of this process. Many healthcare enterprises recognize the value of outsourcing their physical print/mail operations to service bureaus and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies. This makes a lot of sense because print/mail operations are capital intensive and are not a strategic or core capability of a healthcare enterprise. It is a fact that there are cost benefits to be gained when outsourcing print/mail fulfillment. But in our personalized world, these benefits can't jeopardize an organization's customer communication capability.

One main challenge 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 contact with the customer. There are valuable benefits inherent in having the ability to control your own data, documents and communications. But those struggling with these issues continue to have questions, such as: “What do I outsource and what do I keep in-house?” and “Do I want to own the software to enable my communications strategy or let someone else do it?” Many enterprises that choose to outsource the production of their customer communications often find it difficult to use these important vehicles for improving customer relationships.

The most effective communication environments are collaborative in nature, with the healthcare organization selecting technology that enables its customer communications strategy, and working together with a service provider to ensure that communications output matches print/mail requirements. In doing so, it is possible to implement a customer communications strategy that offers the ability to leverage the power of non-technical, customer-focused employees to design, deliver and maintain meaningful, personalized customer communications, while meeting the business and technical requirements of the print/mail provider to ensure optimum delivery.

The importance of being in the driver's seat

Lately, this idea of collaboration has been called “outsourcing with control.” Healthcare providers need flexibility and autonomy to complete interactive, point-of-need, personalized documents for customers, while ensuring accuracy and costs are controlled through centralized production and fulfillment. In-sourcing customer communication management while outsourcing print fulfillment provides a way to make this possible.

With the advent of recent regulations that make it important that all documents are compliant with legal and regulatory standards, the need for a secure, collaborative document-creation environment is more important than ever. Healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the need to extend their communications framework in order to provide a means to access and control marketing and regulatory-compliance content in the document creation process. They have also been putting infrastructures in place that allow for rapidly building and deploying all types of variable document applications, including browser-based front-end designed for remote marketing users to collaboratively create and manage targeted campaigns in real time. These investments can be an important step towards achieving customer communications objectives.

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 quickly becoming an expectation rather than an option. When considering the outsourcing of this function, it is critically important to closely evaluate vendor-partners' capabilities to ensure they can meet client communication needs in the areas of agility, flexibility and control. With statements being the central communication vehicle between a healthcare firm and its clients, 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.

Doug Cox is the director
of North America
enterprise business for
GMC Software Technology.
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