New Research from AIIM on Customer Communications Archiving By: Tim Nelms, Business Unit Manager, Archive Management Solutions Recently Crawford Technologies, in partnership with AIIM the global community for information professionals, conducted a market survey into customer communications archiving practices. The survey had 226 respondents from North America and Western Europe from a range of sectors … Continue reading “Are You Missing the CCM Trends?”
New Research from AIIM on Customer Communications Archiving
By: Tim Nelms, Business Unit Manager, Archive Management Solutions
Recently Crawford Technologies, in partnership with AIIM the global community for information professionals, conducted a market survey into customer communications archiving practices. The survey had 226 respondents from North America and Western Europe from a range of sectors including government, banking, insurance, telco/media/utilities and healthcare. Essentially the survey provides an insight into the trends affecting customer communication archiving.
The fact is that storing and presenting transactional customer communications may be a necessity, but effectiveness in doing so varies widely. The core technology of customer communications archiving has changed greatly over the last 20 years and for most companies is maintained by a complex web of systems that must accommodate the output from legacy systems as well as new ones. As a result the cost of customer correspondence services varies widely, and by no means are all companies getting all of the financial benefits of moving to digital communication that they should.
One of the key findings of the report is that statements and invoices are by far the heaviest form of outbound communications at 68%. Newsletters, and sales and marketing materials closely follow, with half or more of outbound correspondence being personalized (36%). Other key transaction communications included service change notifications (33%), explanation of benefits (20%), policy holder renewal information (18%), tax bills (13%) and trade confirmations (12%).
A key finding that we found most interesting of the report is that only 39% of organisations archive outbound correspondence. More than one third archive selectively archive, whilst 9% do not archive at all. Drilling down into these figures in more detail it is interesting to note that 37% of respondents indicate selective archival. When we started thinking about this at CrawfordTech it made perfect sense because whilst some customer communications are relatively simple others contain personal data and may be subject to compliance. For example insurance policy correspondence is regulated and needs to be retained for at least three years after the policy expires. Whereas marketing literature and newsletters are not subject to these rules.
When asked to describe their outbound archive system, 34% described their archive system as ad hoc. While “ad hoc” could represent a mix of shared drives and designated systems, it is interesting that more than 21% indicate archive systems as part of a records management system with 18% indicating it is part of an ECM system.
This is very interesting because, AIIM reports that “Historical recordkeeping (56%) is the top business driver for outbound communications archiving while legal and regulatory compliance follow closely at 54% and 49% respectively. Historical records, unlike those retained for compliance reasons, hold the value of historical data or reference used for research of client activity, for trend analysis, and other business related research activities.”
AIIM also reports that “More than one-third of organizations have no person or role responsible for outbound archiving, while 22% expect departmental staff to be responsible and 14% place the responsibility with IT. Administrative and customer service staff are found to be the primary users of outbound archives followed closely by sales, marketing and records managers.”
The interesting takeaway from this is that 14% indicate IT is held responsible for archiving outbound customer communications. Our experience at CrawfordTech is that while IT certainly have the right focus to manage and maintain the infrastructure for archiving digital information, the question is does IT have the right focus for archiving business communications that are not IT related.
The AIIM survey found this fact around the relative cost of print and archiving. That the distribution of customer communications can be a significant operational expense and print is the largest component in this mix. When asked about annual budgets for printing, AIIM reported that the average budget is $5.8M with an annual print archiving budget averaging $1.2M. When asked about annual budgeting for online access to print archives, the average is a mere $623k.
When asked what proportion of customer communications is digital, paper, or both, 50% indicate purely digital, 25% indicate paper only, with the remainder indicating a mix. If all customer communications are created or generated digitally, sometimes referred to as digitally born, what is the underlying reason for producing physical materials and not emphasizing on-line access?
One of the interesting nuggets of information to come out of this survey was that 44% of organizations archive exact facsimiles of customer correspondence while 16% archive variations. This led me to think about why exactly companies feel the need to archive anything other than a facsimile of the original. Under law a certified copy is a document, judgment, or record that is signed and attested to as an accurate and a complete reproduction of the original document. Some companies we work with send an original statement or invoice to a customer and then keep a digital version with a ‘COPY’ watermark. (In law a certified copy is admissible as evidence in a lawsuit when the original document cannot be produced because it has been lost or destroyed.)
AIIM identified a clear trend towards the adoption of PDF as an open industry standard for document archiving. This trend is mirrored at CrawfordTech we see most demand for PDF and PDF/A as the target for our transformation technologies. PDF/UA is also beginning to gain traction as companies recognise the need to provide documents for the visually impaired.