From as early as September 2015, the price of sending a standard letter is expected to rise from 70 cents to $1 in a bold move by the government and Australia Post. Unless you are prepared to pay an even higher premium, mail will also take longer to arrive under a plan still to be approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed Australia Post to introduce a two-speed mail service, with a regular service operating two days slower than the current delivery speed and a premium-rate priority service.
Despite the fact that much of the personal correspondence has moved online via social media or to email, the vast majority of business mail is still by post.
So what does that mean for the average business?
A minimum 30% rise in the cost of postage and the delay in delivery will also mean a delay in payment of invoices in most instances.
So how can you move to electronic delivery of correspondence rather than use a service that really will live up to its affectionate description of “snail mail”?
The big hurdle is that many people still want a paper copy of correspondence, and others are often worried about opening attachments in emails.
What can you do to reduce costs?
Here are some tips for getting greater acceptance of email correspondence by your customers:
- Implement an email-only option with new customers first, as they will not miss what they never had previously. Talk of saving time, increased reliability and controlling costs.
- For existing customers, start sending correspondence by email and post. Include an option to move to email only, mentioning the above benefits.
- Run a small competition among employees to collect email addresses of customers not already in your email database.
- After 3 to 6 months, explain to your existing customers that you wish to move towards predominantly electronic notifications, but allow them to opt out. Don’t lose a customer for the sake of a few dollars.
- Point out other benefits of electronic communication, like the ability to save copies, share easily with others, or for you to resend if needed.
- Go a step further and offer a service like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or a similar portal. Using mobile message alerts or email alerts, you can notify the client when a document is ready to be downloaded. Reminders can be sent later if needed.
- Move to using software that accepts digital signatures so the client doesn’t even need to print off the material.
- Do not erode your margins by offering a discount; instead make it about saving your clients time and money by making your documents user-friendly.
- Use client-friendly document names to allow easy electronic filing. For example: Verante_Invoice-23256_23-04-15 (Company, Invoice Number, Date).
- Keep the size of files low and forget the rich text graphics.
- Include hyperlinks in documents for your website, email and portal so clients can easily access the sites.
- Use BSB numbers without the dash so clients can easily cut and paste to their online banking.
Be flexible because you may not achieve a 100 per cent acceptance, but every letter not sent will literally save you a minimum of $1. By starting the move to digital now, you can minimise the costs to your business once the new pricing is in place.