When the Yellow Pages Group separated from Telecom in 2007, Yellow had 18 months to cut the umbilical cord from Telecom’s billing system.
Kim Hawkins , manager of billing and credit, knew that a clean break was needed. “The previous arrangement was inflexible. We were seeking a future-looking partner to handle our out-going invoices, not just a mail house.
In particular, Hawkins wanted to print invoices in colour and could also see that online billing was imminent.
“Datamail had been talking to us from mid-2007. The team there had taken the time to get to know us and to understand what we were looking for,” says Hawkins. She was also impressed with the range of solutions Datamail proposed.
“They offered so much, including a genuine partnership, and demonstrated that they were able to move with the times.”
Here are five keys ways Datamail was able to assist Yellow.
Yellow was one of the first organisations to take the leap to colour printing of invoices. Traditionally invoices are printed in one colour on pre-printed stationary. “The printing, storage and transport costs of providing the stationary were high and beyond our control,” Hawkins explains. “If there was a printing error, we still had to cover the cost of re-supply.”
Just as important as colour is the increased flexibility. Through a unique barcode on each invoice, Yellow can now direct targeted offers to individual customers. It can also track the up-take, identify customers who value these messages and send them even more relevant offers.
Hawkins says that invoices are undervalued for their role in branding. “It’s an emotional thing; it’s a key trigger in the customer relationship.”
Thanks to Datamail, Yellow will soon be inserting individual marketing messages into the production process. “Datamail understands the power of database marketing and, as we move towards online delivery, what they lose in mail and handling, they will gain in document storage.”
Despite what you’d think, going to colour statements has reduced the costs to Yellow. “By going to a blank piece of paper, and because of the very low postage rates we pay (thanks to Datamail’s data cleansing), we are paying about a third of what we used to.”
Datamail also handles all aspects of printing and mailing the Yellow invoices, including validating the data to ensure Yellow gets the best postal rates, receiving GNAs and providing the data back. “This has been very cost effective for us,” she says.
Datamail has also risen to a challenge. Two weeks before the presses were rolled for the first time, Yellow introduced a complete change of brand, including the logos and all stationary templates.
“Normally, this would have been in a ‘change-freeze’ period; but they did it, and it worked,” said Hawkins.
The future for the Yellow/Datamail partnership looks bright. Datamail is currently working on personalising Yellow’s direct debit forms and printing statements on-demand. Datamail’s VRetrieve product is helping advance the online billing strategy. Future initiatives include involvement with Yellow’s direct marketing and online contract storage.
Hawkins is enthusiastic about the future. “We have identified Datamail as our partner of choice for outbound customer communications, especially as we move online. Datamail has the ability to offer a whole lot more than what we thought capable from one supplier.”