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First Data — Making a Statement

April 2007 By George Linkletter
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“One of the challenges, as well as the benefits, of serving such a large number of customers,” contends Oswald, “is we must continually scour the globe for new and cost-effective solutions. A few of our clients insist on being the first with any new technology, so we must be out in front to meet their needs. Others want absolute assurance that any new technology is proven and well imbedded in the industry when implemented. So we must test and refine to make sure the new technologies will succeed in our rigorous, high-volume operation.”

On the mail finishing side, First Data has purchased a “significant number” of the high-speed, high-integrity APS intelligent inserting systems from Pitney Bowes.

“These new, higher-speed systems will boost our throughput and capacity, so we can accomplish more work, at even higher levels of quality, in less time and while using an overall smaller footprint on the shop floor,” reports Tim Rosenthal, SVP of output services.

The First Data investment in new printing/mail finishing equipment will yield faster and more efficient processing. But it is the company’s effort to boost the effectiveness of the account statement itself that is likely to have the greatest impact for customers and accelerate growth for First Data.

The heart of the firm’s one-stop-shopping innovation is called the Strategic Communications Solution. It is composed of the four components of effective messaging today: document composition, customer segmentation, color printing and electronic delivery options.

Variable-design Software

Correspondence Director is a software tool that enables variable design and messaging capabilities. It encompasses key features such as weight and white space management, logos, signatures, variable lines of text and paragraphs, as well as images and graphic devices like boxes, lines, shading and data-driven charts and tables.

Their patented First Data DecisionQuest component, also a software tool, enables target marketing to virtually any customer segment. It allows organizations to quickly develop and launch campaigns and offers involving on-statement messages, images such as checks and coupons, and the enclosure of special envelopes and pre-printed inserts.

“There is virtually no limit to the way an account statement’s targeted messaging capability can be used,” according to Oswald.

For example, an organization could use the account statement to help boost sales in a specific region by announcing the opening of a new, nearby retail location. Or it could extend help to customers in areas impacted by hurricanes, floods or other disruptions.

Relief could take many forms, such as enclosing extra checks with the monthly statement, extending a temporary increase in credit limits, allowing a late payment without penalty, or printing important safety or emergency contact information.

To bring added attention to specific messages within the account statement, or to make the entire account statement more visually appealing, the solution incorporates the use of high-speed color printing in full color and at high quality. It also features the capability to utilize selective perforations, along with MICR printing, to give each page in the account statement a range of one-to-one messaging options that include both coupon and check alternatives.

The fourth component of the solution, called eMessenger, responds to the lifestyle needs of busy and mobile customers by allowing them to select from a range of options to receive the secure delivery of account-related data. These include fax, e-mail and the Web. Customers can also opt to receive activity- or event-related notices via a wireless device such as a cell phone or PDA or via e-mail.

Aside from fostering good customer relations, and lowering the cost of customer care and the paper-based delivery of messages, electronic alerts can also serve to reduce the risk of fraud by alerting cardholders to unusual account activity. The event-related alerts can include notices about pending or late payments, or even special offers related to recent purchases. PI

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