Hybrid mail: 7 things to ask suppliers, before signing up
You’ve done your hybrid mail research and you’ve made the decision.
You’ve found the solution that’s going to save your company truck loads of time and money.
Hybrid Mail is the answer to your postage woes and you are fully prepared to take the plunge into online franking… or are you?
Just before you sign on that dotted line, consider the following questions and ask yourself, can my Hybrid Mail provider answer that and am I happy with their answer?
Here are the 7 things to ask your Hybrid Mail supplier, before you sign up.
- How much will it cost me?
- How easy is it to use?
- How secure is it?
- Will I need to make any changes to my documents?
- How clear is the reporting?
- How will you take care of my brand?
- What does the implementation look like?
1) How much will it cost me?
It’s no secret that Hybrid Mail is the cheapest way to send post.
Providers make the most of being able to achieve the best rates of postage from Royal Mail and pass those savings onto their customers. Despite this, there is still often a range in the price of postage.
Firstly, we’d recommend exploring the advertised prices carefully. In particular, look out to make sure that:
- You’re looking at prices that reflect what you are actually sending (and not black and white A6 postcards!).
- The advertised price doesn’t rely on you sending X number of letters per month. If this is the case, you may be sorely disappointed when you actually start to send letters and realise you don’t meet the “criteria”.
After you’ve checked the cost to send your letters (including post, print and paper) there are a few other things you should consider.
Are there any implementation fees?
Many providers charge for the set up, training and generally getting started. You need to decide if this a necessary cost that you are prepared to pay.
In our opinion, it’s not.
Here at Postworks we don’t charge any implementation fees.
What are the ongoing costs?
Ask any potential provider what licensing fees and ongoing maintenance costs you may need to fork out for. Is there going to be a yearly cost that will be needed to continue to use the software? Will there be an annual renewal fee?
What about ongoing updates to the software?
To keep the software working at its best, you want to make sure any updates are maintained both to ensure you’re getting the best features as well as the most up to date and protected software. This is something that you will need, but does it really need to carry a cost?
2) How easy is it to use?
Your users are the ones who are actually going to be uploading your letters and sending them day to day. Their buy in is crucial. Their ability to use the product easily (or not) has the ability to make or break this project.
A piece of software that may look all singing and all dancing but has more steps to remember than the 1990’s classic “Macarena” isn’t going to help your implementation one bit.
You (and your users) need to be confident enough to use it, without having to constantly phone the IT department, and that their post will be delivered.
With Hybrid Mail, it’s never one size fits all, so it is worth considering a provider who offers a range of options for uploading files.
For example if you have a huge number of users all needing to send post, a cloud based system (with no IT installs) makes sense or even a virtual printer.
Equally, if you have system generated documents that need processing, you’ll want to be able to automate it via an API or server based application.
3) How secure is it?
Hybrid mail (in its simplest form) is a combination of software and hardware but in many instances, they are often handled by multiple companies.
Despite offering a simpler posting life, many providers use three different companies for the sales, the software and the production which means data is handled by multiple organisations opening itself up to a greater risk when it comes to your data.
Consider, if there is an issue, who do you go to and what can they tell you?
Ultimately, a supplier with everything under one roof is not only going to give you and your team a more ‘joined up’ experience but also mitigates the risk of data leakage and gives you, the customer, a greater assurance.
Postworks, for example, prides itself on its excellent reputation for customer service and bank level encryption.
It is also worth asking your potential provider if they can provide evidence on Security accreditation. For example, the ISO 27001 certificate provides you with assurances that your data is in safe hands.
4) Will I need to make any changes to my documents?
Most hybrid mail providers have strict rules and regulations about the layout of the letters, particularly, where the address is positioned.
Many organisations then face the time consuming task of updating all of their templates before they can even begin to outsource, which, understandably, puts them off using hybrid mail at all.
With Postworks, you don’t have to do that, we can work with 98.5% of documents without you having to change a thing.
Do you need some letters on a letterhead but not others?
Are you sending out statements that are landscape?
Can the hybrid mail provider you are looking at accommodate your requirements?
If not, it may be worth looking at one that can.
Postworks, for example, has a range of document “workflows” ranging from simple to complex designed to make our user’s experience as straightforward as possible and match a solution to a need.
5) How clear is the reporting?
The beauty of hybrid mail is you know exactly what letters have been posted, when they were posted and by who (or at least it should be).
At the end of the day, as a hybrid mail user, you should be able to see exactly which letters have been handed over to Royal Mail and where each letter is in the process.
Unfriendly error logs just for the IT team’s eyes only, are not useful to you, who need readily available management information.
Unfortunately, despite this being a key benefit of using Hybrid Mail, and a digital solution, many providers do not offer a full audit trail.
How do you know your letter has been delivered? Are you going to get recipients claiming that they haven’t received their letter?
If these questions ring true for you, then make sure you challenge the suppliers you’re considering what the audit trail looks like. Not only does the audit trail need to be available, it needs to be easily accessible by your users, not hidden away in the murky underworlds of the provider’s archives.
Postworks offers a full audit trail for all customers, which is easily and readily available providing a full proof of postage.
6) How will you take care of my brand?
Whether you are sending marketing , appointment reminders, legal letters or HMRC returns, your letters reflect your brand. You need to be confident that the letters you send out will reflect the brand that you have worked so hard to build.
An absolute must is to get samples of the print quality, paper and envelopes. If you can, send yourself a letter using the provider and make sure that it is a quality you’d be happy to give to your customers.
We’d recommend gathering samples from 2 or 3 providers and comparing like for like. After all, you need to make sure that whatever letters you send, they are of a quality you are happy with.
7) What does the implementation look like?
At the end of the day, it is the users which will make any implementation a success and so the experience they have with a product is key (and that includes you!).
Before you make any decisions, make sure you know what the roll out is going to look like for your team. Ask your provider,
- How long will it take?
- Who will drive the implementation?
- Who will train my users?
- More importantly, who is going to support them?
- How will a roll out work for my users?
- When will we be able to start sending our letters?
Just as an example, here at Postworks, a roll out can take as little as 24 hours (yes, we have done it that quickly!) and does not need to be an onerous, arduous task.
Essentially, by keeping the process simple, user adoption is easy and speedy.
Postworks requires little-to-no digital know-how and no IT dream team. We take the responsibility to train and support your users so you don’t have to.
So, what do you do now?
Arm yourself with these questions and be ready to challenge any potential hybrid mail provider.
Postworks are geared up and ready to answer each and every one of these questions with your users and your brand in mind.
Get in touch with us to arrange a demo and find out how much easier life is with the hybrid mailing experts.