Creating a better customer experience by providing effective transactional documents in this day and age is not only a good idea, it is imperative. And, it doesn’t make any difference whether you print or deliver to someone’s smartphone, the bottom line is, the communications must be effective.
When you plan on redesigning a transactional communication, first dismiss the notion that anyone can do it. There is no easy shortcut for designing transactional documents that are effective and successful. Transactional documents are complex, have content that changes on the fly, need to accommodate dollar amounts that fluctuate in size, can have a tremendous amount of content or very little, and can be very confusing, all of which can cost the company time and money.
Many people think they know how, but few succeed. Here’s a few reason why:
- Graphic designers focus on aesthetics – they want to make the statements “look good.”
- Developers want to get them implemented quickly with no errors.
- Marketing folks want to follow the corporate brand guidelines created for marketing strategies and collateral. These may not work well with transactional documents.
- Business owners and senior management want to better compete with their competitors.
What do the above reasons not address? They all don’t take into account what your customers want – customers want to easily LOCATE, UNDERSTAND and ACT on the information contained in the communications.
Here is evidence of that. Transactional documents are opened, read and acted upon by nearly everyone. Some surveys say 98% or 99%. So they are a great retention and marketing tool. In fact, if done properly, they can be more successful at retaining customers than all other marketing efforts combined.
So, start with the premise that you are creating clear communications for an audience that is most likely not familiar with your industry. Then move forward, keeping in mind these seven key points to ensure a successful outcome.
- Don’t rush; this is a project that takes time not only because it is complex, but also to ensure that you get it right the first time. Remember one of Murphy’s Laws, “There is never enough time to do it right the first time, but there is always enough time to do it over.”
- Have a senior level sponsor to emphasize the importance of the project and to make any high level decisions. After all this is a project that spans the breadth of the company.
- Gather together in one room all decision makers who touch the document – the sponsor, project manager, business owners, marketing, customer service, IT, legal, compliance, etc. This way they not only will buy in to the project in the beginning, but also feed off each other and come to agreement on any issues. They will be invested as a team to stay on track and finish on time. Doing it this way sets the bar, makes sure all have the same level of commitment and helps to solve all problems and issues along the way and not at the end.
- Leave room for testing and test with “real” customers in controlled settings by professionals who are not employees of the organization.
- Content first because the content will drive the design.
- Hire an expert. Many organizations think they can do it internally with or without a graphic designer, but to ensure a successful project, hire an expert in information design and clear communications that also understands the development and production requirements of transactional documents.
- Have a project plan upfront and stick to it.
These seven points will help make your project a success both within your organization and with your customers too. Not only will you create a communication that is clear, but more importantly, you will create a better customer experience.