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Signing agreement document.

A critical eye on critical communications

by Aline Liu
Would you do your taxes on 3-lined paper? Or fill out legal documents with a crayon? Or write your bank account information on the outside of your deposit envelope?

You probably wouldn’t. These are all critical communications in your everyday life, and you handle them with the appropriate amount of care. You use the proper forms and protections to ensure that these vital documents get to where they need to be, in the format they need to be in.

And yet, there are scores of these critical communications in businesses all over the world that are printed like they’re just any other document — and that could bring significant trouble for companies who don’t pay these communications the care they deserve.
Table of contents illustrating critical communications.

What do we mean by “critical communications?” Think payroll: statements and checks. Or letters sent to new accounts. Communications sent to patients that are required by law. Regulatory letters. Notices. These types of communications exist in every industry, in some form or another.

What common factors do these communications have? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s likely a critical communication:

  • Does the document have to be perfect every time?
  • Is it regulated in some way?
  • Are you required by law to track these documents?
  • Does it contain personal information about customers or clients?

​In order to maintain regulatory compliance, it pays to have full transparency into your communications processes.

Infovisual illustrating broken document percentage

A big risk

Treating these types of communications like any other has significant costs for your business. Foremost in my mind among these are compliance issues. Many of these communications, especially in the legal and healthcare sectors, fall under existing laws and guidelines and must adhere to certain regulations. Communications must get to their intended target, in the right form, at the right time. Failing to do so can open up your business to significant legal liabilities. In fact, more than 75 percent of companies have experienced major business risks and/or compliance issues due to broken document processes.

In order to maintain regulatory compliance, it pays to have full transparency into your communications processes. If errors do occur, you need to be able to identify them immediately, eliminate them, and rectify any issues that occurred as result. Developing an appropriate system and having these right tools to handle these sorts of communications can help you accomplish this.

Another big challenge when it comes to critical communications are costs. What many of these communications have in common is that they are also very heavily-printed documents — often among the most printed documents in your business. And when you add in postage, materials and sorting, just sending out these communications can be costly and time-consuming.

It pays to spend some time researching this part of your business to identify potential cost-savings. Are there postal optimizations that can save you time and money? Are there ways to sort mailings for maximum discounts — potentially by combining mailings? Or are you seeing a number of errors creep into these documents that require expensive reprintings? Often, automation-based tools can help reduce these errors and identify cost savings that may not be immediately apparent.

There are also a number of potential benefits to optimizing your critical communications outside of the cost-savings involved. Consider the amount of personal data you already have on your customers. Being able to best utilize this data to create a more personalized communication can help create a more engaging touchpoint for the customer and better customer experience. There are also a number of revenue opportunities to be had, especially with regard to advertising within your critical communications. Often, these documents represent an untapped potential — a potential that can be realized with the right tools.

A new focus

Millions of documents are printed every single day, and errors are bound to happen. But for some documents, your business doesn’t have the luxury to make mistakes. If you’ve identified critical communications that require this sort of special care, don’t just print it the same way you would a recipe for tonight’s dinner. Instead, take a step back to ensure that you have the right tools and processes to get these critical documents produced accurately and delivered on time.

What solutions make the most sense for your business?

Ensure that you have the right tools and processes to get these critical documents produced accurately and delivered on time.
Aline Liu
Aline Liu, Senior Manager, Strategic IMC Planning for Ricoh’s Healthcare business, is responsible for developing content that address the challenges Healthcare companies face and providing insights on how to solve them. She brings over 15 years of experience in marketing communications, promoting content and solutions that are important to our customers.