Print/Mail Consultants
Case Study

Compliance, Competition, & Six Figure Savings


 Utility simultaneously speeds document development,
eases compliance concerns, & saves money

A large utility company was looking for a manager to handle their printed customer communications. The staff understood the utility business and the marketplace, but in recent months the organization had suffered document production delays and mistakes. The staff lacked the document composition, quality control, and production workflow experience to solve their problems.

An outside print and mail company handled most of the utility company’s work. When the company began their search for able management, their relationship with the outsource service provider had deteriorated. Whenever something went wrong, each group blamed the other.

PMC joined the organization as a temporary manager. The utility defined our goals as educating the staff, improving document management processes, and preparing the operation for management by our permanent replacement.

After examining existing document applications and the underperforming workflow, we immediately established effective communications and cooperation with the outsource print and mail service provider. We set up regular meetings attended by representatives of our client and the service provider. We became the conduit for information passing back and forth.

The meetings revealed several opportunities for improvement as PMC translated technical details into understandable language for our client. Through these conversations the joint resources identified a problem with lead times that was crippling new document development.
Inefficient Workflow, Inadequate Testing
The utility company introduced new consumer plans regularly. Every one of them required its own version of welcome letters, rate information, and disclosures. The company operated in a competitive environment and responding to competitor actions was crucial. The company tied regulator filings, website updates, customer care training, and marketing campaigns to market-driven go live dates. They could not afford to miss product launch targets because of delayed documents.

PMC noted bottlenecks in our client’s process for new document creation and approval. The work involved several departments, with no prescribed workflow. Projects arrived at a staffer’s desk unexpectedly, with little time allowed to meet deadlines. The result of this haphazard approach was predictable. Last-minute copy and paste scrambles created errors. By the time the utility company finished composing the documents they left their print/mail service provider with insufficient time to code documents into the production system. Under pressure from the utility company, the service provider released documents into production without testing,

which led to even more mistakes.

PMC documented the internal and external workflow our client used for document creation and approval. We noticed where the process bogged down, developed a structured workflow timeline, and gave each team advance notice of upcoming tasks. The new-document creation process shrunk from 30 days to 10 days.

We also developed a test deck and a testing regimen for all new documents. Never again would the company release documents into production without testing. Through this effort we also discovered outdated documents still in production. The utility was out of compliance but didn’t even know it!

Utility decreases document development time by 66%

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Our inspection of the regulatory guidelines resulted in another procedural change. Until our arrival on the scene, the utility company spent all of June each year sending a regulated document to their entire customer base. They accomplished this task by commissioning print and mail vendors all over town to create and mail the document.

​PMC pointed out the company mailed that same document to customers whenever they changed or renewed their plans, which satisfied the regulatory obligation for annual notification. We used data from the monitoring process we’d set up for quality control as a suppression list and trimmed the volumes for the annual regulatory mailing. This change decreased the expenses for the annual effort at regulatory compliance by nearly two-thirds.

Besides fixing the inter-entity communications and implementing new document workflows, PMC redesigned large documents, cutting the page counts in half. Our client realized an immediate 50% cost reduction in paper consumption and click charges for printing and inserting. Over the next year, the client saved $175,000 in postage alone, while remaining in compliance.

Broad Experience in Document Workflow
This project demonstrates the benefit of PMC’s broad experience in the entire customer communications workflow. We recognized issues and worked with business line and document production groups to facilitate solutions threatening to undermine our client’s efforts to maintain their leadership in the marketplace. Our client realized additional benefit from our understanding of document design and production best practices. The annual savings from these efforts alone paid for our services many times over.

During our engagement with the utility company we brought order and efficiency to a chaotic environment. PMC lowered their costs, reduced their mistakes, and lessened their exposure to regulatory infractions. During our tenure as temporary manager, the utility hired more staff, including a permanent manager. We trained these individuals, briefed them about ongoing projects, and left the staff with a reliable and stable process for creating and distributing customer communications.

Document Design, Regulatory Misunderstanding

 About Print/Mail Consultants

Print/Mail Consultants is an independent consulting firm assisting organizations lower costs, improve quality, and integrate new technologies in their customer communications workflows. Contact us to find out how our specialized knowledge and experience in this industry can help your company achieve its goals.
[email protected]
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