Which?, Europe’s largest consumer rights organisation, commissioned Charterhouse to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of sending welcome packs to new subscribers of its magazines.
The aim of the project was to simplify the welcome pack content (then typically five separate inserts), streamline the fulfilment process and reduce postage costs, all through the intelligent use of data provided by Which?
Which? wanted to cut down on the quantity of variations needed under the existing manual process. As it stood, once a new subscriber’s data had been entered into the system, the most appropriate welcome letter was selected from a database of hundreds of individual files. The process was time consuming and the pre-printing of letters meant that changes to templates could take up to a week to approve. This also demanded large stockpiles of stationery and limited the flexibility of the welcome pack content.
Charterhouse worked with its data experts and key stakeholders from Which? to create a project team responsible for defining the complete fulfilment process. The team reviewed every stage of the process with the aim of making the new system as automated as possible.
The Project Team planned to develop a user-friendly document composition and fulfilment system based on clear customer data. The strategy was to replace the existing welcome pack with a highly personalised letter and to eliminate the old manual process. This required an automated workflow to improve efficiency while enabling Which? to update the content templates quickly and easily.
The new system would give Which? greater control over the production process, increased flexibility to accommodate individual needs, and a new, intelligent system through which it could maintain high levels of efficiency and customer service.
Charterhouse designed a bespoke system and the project team ensured that it was rigorously tested against all scenarios. To this day, a staging site runs alongside the core workflow for the sole purpose of testing every different subscription offer.
Which? was required to ‘tag’ the text that could be selected for inclusion in the welcome pack. It also agreed to maintain a record of changes to the magazines that could be uploaded into the system as soon as the changes went live, updating the welcome pack content accordingly.
The hundreds of individual files were replaced with an automated system driven by a single database, which can be easily updated. The team created a dynamic proofing platform, enabling Which? to instantly create a PDF of any letter and fast track the approval process.
Under the new system, each letter consists of a tailored combination of text, images and signatories chosen from a library of options. Document composition is driven by the individual subscriber's account details and the subscription offer advertised. The functionality also allows Which? to assess demand for certain publications over time, and to develop targeting strategies.
The project vastly improved turnaround times with letter update times falling from one week to just one day. Management of stock was taking 40% of the marketing operations team’s time before the new system was put in place; this was reduced to 5%.
The original welcome pack was generic with five marketing inserts added as default. With a fully variable and personalised letter, the inserts are no longer required, negating the need for stockpiling stationery and ensuring all marketing communications are now fully targeted.
As a result of this reduction in content, the average postage cost per pack has fallen from £1.80 to £0.72 representing a 60% saving against a target of 20%.
The project has also helped Which? to maintain exceptional levels of customer service, delivering highly personalised communications that are less cumbersome and easier to read.
Which? continues to benefit from a more efficient and cost-effective production and fulfilment process while its subscribers enjoy an improved experience that is personalised to their needs. The enhancements enacted in data management hold opportunities for increasingly tailored and enhanced communications in the future.
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