comparing transactional mail providers

Transactional mail is a unique subset of communications. It encompasses mailings that must comply with regulations because it contains personal information, such as a Social Security or account number. With this mail type, letters must always be secure and accurate. For any business considering outsourcing this function, comparing transactional print and mail providers is a must.

When evaluating different options, you’ll get the most information from asking these nine questions.

Does your facility only handle transactional mail?

Many print and mail companies offer various services that include transactional and promotional direct mail. Others specialize only in transactional mail. So, why does it matter?

For the vendors that “do it all,” that means they have many different print “shops” in their facility. As a result, transactional print and mail production areas may be open to everyone. They also might not have the best guidelines to differentiate between transactional activities and promotional ones. Unfortunately, that can lead to errors in mailings, possible noncompliance, and data security concerns.

Whereas working with a dedicated transactional print and mail provider ensures that the entire organization operates under the strictest guidelines and employs advanced technology regarding security and accuracy. There’s no deviation from processes, which provides significant peace of mind.

What type of technology do you use to ensure accuracy?

With transactional mail, even a few mis-mailings can cause havoc. You never want another customer to open an envelope and see a statement that doesn’t belong to them. If the error is pervasive, it could lead to a data breach, fines, and reputational harm. Thus, you’ll need to get granular about the technology solutions they use.

At a minimum, the provider should use barcodes, sensors, and cameras. With these tools, you can have true integrity across the process. Each company has a unique sequence number displayed on a barcode on each letter. Cameras read the barcodes during letter folding and insertion into envelopes. Another camera takes an image of the inserted envelope. The technology decodes each image to display the sequence number, which is matched against the company’s daily file.

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transactional mail providers complianceDo you have a compliance officer?

There is much value in working with a partner with a full-time compliance officer. Having such a role on staff means that the organization has a culture of compliance. They’ll meet all your regulatory needs and have the certifications to demonstrate this. Plus, they’ll always be monitoring for new rules, like the recent enactment of the No Surprises Act, which impacted healthcare payers.

What compliance certifications do you have?

Depending on your industry, you’ll want to know that your provider follows the regulations, such as HIPAA, HITRUST, FISMA, and PCI DSS. In addition to these vertical-specific standards, you should also expect them to be SOCI & II compliant.

Can you dynamically print on each communication?

When comparing transactional print and mail companies, you might not be aware that dynamic printing goes beyond individual customer communication. You can also insert specific messages or information on each letter, depending on segmenting, in full color.

For example, you could include marketing messages for customers who subscribe to one of your services, promoting the others. You could also add awareness messaging, if you’re a utility, about rate changes or water conservation policies.

Do you have redundant facilities?

You’ll also want to talk about business continuity with any vendor. The possibility of downtime is hard to eliminate completely. Natural disasters, equipment failures, or other factors can halt operations.

Ideally, you’ll partner with a company with a sophisticated disaster response plan in place. Additionally, the organization should have a redundant facility in another part of the country. Should anything occur to one site, the second is ready to take over with no interruptions.

What are your security protocols for data and physical spaces?

When you outsource, you’ll send data directly to your provider, which requires strict adherence to security best practices. In the answer to this question, you should learn about all the protections they have in place to safeguard that data, whether at rest or in transit.

In addition to data security, physical security matters, as well. They should have a system that limits access to only those who should have it. Each facility should also have security cameras, gated entryways, and property perimeter systems.

What is your accuracy rate?

There’s no room for error in transactional print and mail. The industry standard is 99.6%, which sounds good. The reality is that’s still 4,000 errors per 100,000 pieces. With the right technology, processes, and people, accuracy can increase to 99.9999%, which is the current accuracy rating of PCI Group.

What framework do you use to ensure quality?

Along with accuracy, quality is another component of transactional print and mail. Companies that use Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma typically have a higher degree of quality. That’s because they have processes for everything, and the employees that execute them define the steps. It also means they have a culture that promotes continuous improvement, auditing of procedures to improve them, ongoing training, and all the other attributes of these protocols.

Comparing Transactional Mail Providers: Asking the Right Questions

Answers to these questions deliver a great foundation of knowledge regarding the provider. By understanding their technology, processes, procedures, and security measures, you can narrow down your list to the best match for your company.

Learn more about how PCI Group matches up by contacting us today.