Party Down: A Year of Statement Processing Blog Posts

June 21, 2013 Brian Watson

Elite Print and Mail Blog AnniversaryBreak out the confetti.  Strike up the band.  Because we’re celebrating.  Today our little blog has crossed a pretty substantial milestone - our first anniversary.

That’s right: we’re the big one-period today.  And although I won’t actually be throwing the mother of all parties at our office this afternoon, given the high rate at which blogs tend to be abandoned, we’re proud to be able to hit the one-year milestone running.

Over the last year, we’ve published 74 posts.  Contributed 66,860 words to the web.  And expounded on topics that run the gamut from mobile billing and payment to hyper-local direct mail marketing.

One Year and Many Statement Processing Posts Later...

But one subject that we’ve returned to time and time again over the past year is statement processing - bill design, statement printing and mailing, disaster recovery, return mail management, that sort of stuff.

And that’s by no means an accident.  We’ve placed a special emphasis on all things customer financial communication.  (In fact, our very first post covered best-practice statement design tips.)

Why the heightened attention on that topic in particular?  Well, for one, it’s a big part of what we’ve done here at Elite day-in, day-out for nearly 20 years.  And when I set down with my colleagues to talk about why we should start blogging, statement presentment and bill payment was the most common response.

Also, let’s face it: despite the critical role it plays in supplying cash to the bottom lines of businesses of all shapes and sizes, the Internet isn’t exactly overflowing with billing and payment blogs. 

And we wanted to help change that by sharing our experiences and expertise; the mistakes we’ve made and the big wins we’ve had along the way.

To commemorate our first big blogging milestone, I’ll be taking a stroll down memory lane: curating a handy, easy-to-access guide of our most helpful (and profitable) statement processing tips, tricks and best practices from year-one.

Statement Design

Great customer financial communication starts with exemplary statement design.  Or: all statements aren’t created equal.

Clean, clear, concise statements help your customers get to the meat of their bills - what’s owed, for what, and by when – and take action on the information.  That, in turn, speed revenue collection, lowers bad debt and improves organizational cash flow. 

Check out our selection of statement design posts from this year for tips and tricks to nail the visual component of your customer billing program.

• In July, things got slightly philosophical, as “Statement Zen” – the techniques that drive simple, clean, well-designed statements – was my topic of choice.  (And yes, I’m still trying to elevate that term to meme status... pretty much unsuccessfully I might add.)

• Before tackling a post about the 4 design elements that can help improve the brand impact of your statements later that month.

• In August, we decided to sweat the small stuff by focusing on the benefits of an incremental approach to customer-friendly statement design.

• Then examined the 4 groups that need to be at the table when a statement redesign is being considered. 

• And pondered the impact of the written word with this how-to post on writing effective statement copy.

• Before finally looking at 6 reasons why patients don’t always have the most positive impression (i.e., just plain hate) the bills they receive.

• In September, we presented a quick-and-dirty primer on using TransPromo to help market your business through its statements.

• In March, we covered the 11 design elements shared by all “likeable” patient statements.

• And in May, I stepped outside my role as an “industry-type”, considered my experiences as a patient, and came up with 4 really-important questions that all truly successful patient statements must answer time after time.

Statement Processing

Effective statement design is an essential part of any high-performing customer billing strategy.

But even the best designed statement is powerless to collect if it doesn’t ever, you know, actually get into the hands of your customers. 

Design is important.  But statement production and delivery is crucial.  Best-practice statement print and mail practices ensure that your statements get to customers.  Quickly.

Sure, it’s nuts-and-bolts, in-the-background stuff.  But it’s nuts-and-bolts, in-the-background stuff that’s really important to financial health of your balance sheet.

And it deserves plenty of attention.  That’s why we’ve made statement processing a focal point throughout our first year of blogging.

• Way back in June of 2012, we looked at 5 smart, back-end statement processing tools that help billers get their billing correspondence to customers quickly and efficiently.

• Then in July we chewed on 5 simple fixes to the (ever increasing) problem of high postage costs.

• Statement defects can slow receivables, increase bad debt and potentially put your business smack-dab in the middle of a regulatory quandary.  So in August, we looked at 5 ways to defect-proof your statement print and mail strategies.

• Revenue cycle delays inevitably lead to balance sheet carnage.  And who needs that? So in November, we examined the 5 biggest statement processing “speed traps” and shared a few tips for how you can avoid them.

• In December, we provided a checklist of 5 critical billing and payment tools that you should be demanding from your statement processing company. 

• You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  That’s why, in January, we provided 4 simple-but-insightful ways to quantify the effectiveness of your customer billing program.

• In February, the Postal Service officially announced plans to eliminate Saturday mail delivery.  And while those plans have since been shelved by Congressional decree, the print and mail tips provided in our blog post on the subject aren’t any less relevant today.

Return Mail

When it comes to your revenue cycle, speed matters.  Any delay in customer billing and payment adds days to A/R and negatively affects key metrics like cash flow on-hand and bad debt.

And return mail is one of the biggest statement processing roadblocks out there.

For example: of all first class mail delivered each year, 1.9% goes undelivered (according to data from Pitney Bowes).  That’s billions of pieces that cost billions and billions of dollars to process, manage, and re-mail.  Or, in other words – a major drain on revenue cycle efficiency.

Read all about how to stop the return mail bounce-backs before they become a big, costly problem in these two articles from this past year.

• In August, we reviewed how address cleansing tools can help billers improve statement delivery and reduce costly return mail bounce-backs.

• A robust 1.3 billion mail pieces go undelivered each year.  In this article from November, we provided a quick primer on how to build a bulletproof return mail program.

Disaster Recovery

So you’ve got great statement design, best-class print and mail practices, and a solid return mail management program.  All that’s left is to make sure that your customer data and mailstream processes are protected in case of emergency.

Not sure how to make that happen?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

• In March, we took a closer look at the 3 most critical components of a reliable statement processing disaster recovery plan. 

Ready for statement processing tips, tricks and best practices designed to solve your most pressing revenue cycle concerns?  Contact the statement processing experts at Elite for a free customer billing consultation.

P.S.: In December I threw caution to the wind and took a shot at the much-loved annual tradition of end-of-year prognostications.  Check out the article and let me know in the comments how I’m doing so far.

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