Diversifying your offerings is a classic tactic to protect revenue during a soft economy.
As we move into a post-pandemic economy, many imaging companies are reevaluating what it will take to gain back revenues lost and to best position their business for future growth. Yet, economists predict the soft economy may continue for some time to come. You need a solid strategy to protect your business from profit erosion and to provide new sources of revenue.
Have you considered offering digital mailroom services? Remote work is driving the need for digitization. Workers are not present in offices to collect and process incoming mail, and companies cannot afford the delays caused by rerouting physical mail to workers at home. As imaging services companies, many of you already possess the technology needed to help businesses digitize mail and optimize business processes. You’re well positioned to be successful.
The need for this service is significant. Though companies have been digitizing information for decades, a statistic cited around the internet shows the average office worker still produces 10,000 pages of printed documentation per year — much of it getting mailed back and forth between offices and companies. The mailroom is certainly an area that could benefit from digitization.
Scanning services will not be enough
You may already have experienced the decline in office print volumes as a softening in demand for your scanning services. It’s a trend that has been in a long slow decline for years. But the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated a shift to remote work, driving office print volumes to significant declines. Last year, IDC revised their estimates for growth in the capture applications market to just 2.1% CAGR from 2019-2024.
The good news? McKinsey points out that much of the real economic potential of digitization has not yet been realized. They go on to explain that in the United States, Europe, and China (three of the world’s most developed economies), companies that fully leverage digitization remains at a paltry 20-25%, leaving significant opportunity available for imaging service providers. While market penetration is low, demand is growing. Valior recently noted that 70% of adults who have been working at home would prefer to continue to do so once the pandemic is past. Companies need a long-term strategy to streamline processes involving paper-based mail for remote work.
What is a digital mailroom?
Rather than manually receiving and distributing incoming mail or email, organizations use document scanning to digitize incoming paper-based mail. Once it’s converted, the digital files are uploaded (along with email) to a document management application to facilitate security, classification, and distribution. Though some businesses choose to do their own mail conversion, the majority find it simpler to outsource this project to a scanning service provider.
New England Document Systems has offered digital mailroom services to their scanning clients — and written about the paperless office in these pages — for years. They either pick up physical mail from customer’s offices, receive it through a PO box, or have it directly routed to their scanning bureau. Then the mail is opened and scanned, important data is automatically extracted from the documents, and they are moved into a document management application. They can even push documents into automated business processes. For example, invoices are scanned and key information like invoice number, vendor, and amount are extracted automatically so it can be used to create index values in the document management system and sent to the accounting application to eliminate manual data entry. Finally, the invoices are sent into an automated approval process to streamline the payment process.
It’s simpler than you think
Since you may already be providing scanning to your customers, digital mailroom services could be a natural extension of your offerings. You can typically even use existing scanning hardware and personnel.
A simple change in marketing and sales messaging will alert your customers to your new offering. The following information may be helpful to your teams as they start to reach out to prospects about mailroom services.
Signs a company needs digital mailroom services
- Some employees have been forced to return to the office during the pandemic lockdown to complete certain activities. For example, ask prospects if their accounting team had to be in-office to process checks.
- Employees spend more than a few minutes each day opening and reading mail (both physical and email) in order to decide what needs to be kept and which items require further processing.
- Important information (such as the type contained in contracts and financial records) gets passed around the office on paper as it is routed through business processes.
- Errors in database information can be traced to manual data entry.
Benefits of digital mailroom services
- Radically increases efficiency – a digital mailroom places incoming mail in the hands of the employees who need it much more quickly.
- Enables Process Automation – many ECM systems allow you to push digital records into automated processes based on the information the document contains, speeding up an entire organization.
- Secures information from the moment it is received – paper documents are vulnerable when they lie around offices on desks and in filing cabinets. Even though they may not be able to control how information is received, businesses can convert incoming mail to electronic formats, bringing powerful cybersecurity tactics into play.
- Reduces the cost of mail handling – though often invisible, the cost of manually handling incoming mail can be significant.
- Reduces human error – eliminating hand-keying of information into systems and databases improves the accuracy of data across an organization.
Bonus hint: You already have a good relationship with your customers, so start with them. As you talk to them, focus on the additional efficiency gains they’ll recognize when you receive and process their incoming mail. A digital mailroom can benefit your customers while also offering you revenue protection throughout 2021 and beyond.