Digital Adoption: 5 Ways To Challenge The Status Quo


Many companies want to reduce the cost of distributing critical communications and increase digital engagement with customers. Unfortunately, there’s a prevailing opinion that paperless adoption has plateaued at 20-30%. Some bold leaders have persisted despite obstacles and now enjoy paperless adoption rates of 50-80%. Let’s take a look at five reasons senior leaders, and their teams, need to challenge the status quo to transforming critical customer communications to digital media. 

Before diving in, let’s level set on terminology. Paperless and digital adoption means that a customer receives digital communication only. We’ll use the term “double-dippers” to describe customers who receive critical communications in both digital and paper form. Some customers are intentional double dippers, but many are not. The latter represent an opportunity for efficiency and cost savings. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in. 

1. Consumer Trend: Checking the Mobile Device More Than the Mailbox

A study released earlier this year by comScore shows that smartphone penetration in the U.S. is 79% and another study shows tablet penetration hit 45% in April of 2015. The trend is clear – consumers are using digital devices more and more as part of their daily lives. A 2015 Deloitte study found that Americans, on average, check their phone 46 times per day – up from 33 looks per day in 2014. And why not? Digital communications offer speed of delivery, mobility and accessibility. The convenience factor is off the chart! Companies that are achieving high rates of digital adoption are succeeding in motivating customers to adopt digital in lieu of paper. These companies avoid taking the one-size fits all approach. They rely on paperless campaigns that include incentives, education, and a differentiated digital experience that drives increased engagement with customers. 

2. Cost Savings, Making the Business Case

Customer convenience alone, though, is seldom enough to support a business case for technology enhancements. Digital communications provide the opportunity for cost savings by replacing print and mailing costs with significantly lower costs to produce and distribute [make available digital documents]. If your company produces a high volume of customer documents, then the cost savings alone may justify the investment in technology for digital transformation. Companies must avoid allowing first-generation paperless solutions to create mindset hurdles to new and improved capabilities currently on the market. Leveraging next-generation digital distribution services for critical communications can be an accelerant given one digital document delivery platform may provide access to multiple channels, e.g. financial institutions, billers, digital mailboxes or in the cloud. The era of chasing paperless solutions is over for the digitally savvy company. They have chosen to stop the perpetual integrations and evolve to a single integration solution that allows the IT department to focus on other priorities. 

3. Marketing Advantages

Ever wonder if customers read ads or inserts in your paper mail? Paper mail can use barcodes such as Quick Response codes to gather transactional data but digital mail has distinct advantages over paper mail technologies. Hyperlinks in digital documents can drive customers to your company’s website for targeted advertising and multi-media content. In conjunction with web analytics, digital documents provide the potential for greater insight into your customers’ preferences, what content is of interest, where they click, and where they don’t. All accomplished with the immediacy of delivery to the tablet, laptop and smartphone. 

4. Pathways to Reach All Customers

Digital communications offer the potential to extend your audience. In a preliminary NIH study 21.2 million adults in the United States reported trouble seeing even when wearing corrective lenses. Applications that create accessible PDFs offer the ability to reach nearly 10% of all American adults with visual impairments who could use the accessibility features of smartphones and tablets for their reading. Language translator applications may facilitate communications with customers in their native language. And some solution providers are offering multi-media bills and statements that appeal to consumers with reading disabilities. 

5. Sustainability

As more customers adopt digital as their preferred communications method, eliminating paper documents for these customers offers an opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint associated with dual delivery. With no need for both paper and digital statement delivery, the paper statements may be turned off. Companies with high rates of paperless achievement work to eliminate “double dipping.” This alone does not ensure environmental benefit. It should be combined with messaging customers about proper disposal of electronic devices and about sustainable practices, such as “think before you print.” 

Ultimately, your customers’ individual preferences will vary along a spectrum from 100% digital to 100% paper. Where along the spectrum you choose to support them should be a deliberate decision balanced between customer preferences and your business performance.

Keanon Swan
Principal Advisor
Cygne Advisors LLC

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