Dematerialization is, in its simplest form, the process of converting a paper document into a digital document. However, the process must ensure the preservation of the document’s legal and evidential value but also the essential elements related to the archival context of reference.
In this sense, dematerialization goes beyond simple digitization, which can be seen as the production of a “virtual” duplicate of an analog resource. We focused on the decisive (and legal) difference between the two concepts in this post; but it is worth underlining how this difference directly involves delicate legal issues.
Dematerialization and the related production of electronic documents is regulated by European Regulation; the last major update is the eIDAS Regulation 910/2014/EU, which establishes “a legal framework for electronic signatures, electronic seals, electronic time stamps, electronic documents, certified electronic delivery services, and services related to certificates of authentication of websites.”
In a strictly Italian context, dematerialization in the Public Administration began with Legislative Decree no. 82 of March 7, 2005 (here is the full text), which came into force during 2006 and sanctioned the birth of the so-called Digital Administration Code (CAD). Since 2006, the CAD has been the subject of 29 updates; the most recent and significant is that of Legislative Decree no. 17 of December 13, 2017 (here is the full text). In this vein, there is also the important issue of electronic invoicing, which now concerns companies and individual taxpayers (see our post on the latest news on electronic invoicing for 2019).
The advantages of dematerialization
Switching from paper to digital has some obvious advantages, which translate mainly into economic savings, time savings, and greater efficiency. But that’s not all; in this post, we want to focus on one aspect, the effects of dematerialization on the Customer Communication side, where many opportunities await. Before we get started, let’s recall the advantages of dematerialization.
First of all, storing an enormous amount of paper takes up a lot of space, which translates into operating costs and, sometimes, personnel costs.
Then there is the aspect of efficiency in terms of time and research methods. For example, consider how complicated it can be to search specific data within a single paper document! In the digital world, these problems cease to exist: it is possible to carry out effective, targeted, and almost instantaneous search, all in a few clicks. Of course, this is possible if you dematerialize your archive in an intelligent and efficient way.
Moreover, with digital technology, the risks of loss, wear and tear, and compilation errors are drastically reduced.
Then there is the issue of sharing (of documents in full or in part): in a digital environment, this becomes easy and immediate. In analog, the process itself is slow, cumbersome, and full of risks.
But, as we mentioned above, these aren’t the only advantages. Quite the contrary. A digital archive – dematerialised intelligently, strategically, and wisely – can be exploited at different levels. Think of everything that can be triggered by careful analysis of big data or of what is now preferable to define as “smart data” or “deep data” that most documents contain.
An intelligent interpretation – and functional to one’s business – of this enormous amount of information allows, among other things, to get to know one’s audience of users, customers, and collaborators better, to divide this indistinct mass into specific targets, segments, and clusters. By relying on specialized companies like Doxee, you can go as far as the limits of personalization (even when you have a large number of contacts, as we’ll see later in this post).
This highlights the value of employing data-driven marketing actions, and it also helps improve our Customer Communication and Customer Care services. What’s more, the real competition between companies, in almost all sectors, is played out precisely on these points.
The increasing importance of Customer Service processes
Among the many consequences of digital transformation, one is particularly crucial: the change in the “role” of the customer. In short, the user is increasingly placed at the center of the business. This applies to almost all sectors. And this makes sense: consider, for example, how markets have become more fluid, interconnected, and simplified thanks to digital.
To give an example of a common experience: a customer of a telephone company can change operators online in just a few clicks. This was unthinkable until recently.
And what is it that drives a customer to either change the companies he does business with or stay loyal? One important factor is the quality of the dialog with the company itself: Customer Care and Customer Communication.
It’s no wonder that, according to a 2017 Gartner survey, as many as 81% of marketers believe that the customer experience will be a critical factor in the next three years. According to Bain & Company, winning a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than retaining one, through a satisfactory customer experience. That’s why improving the dialog with your customers is at the top of most company’s goals.
How can this exchange be made more effective? The answer: by putting into practice one of the oldest secrets of commerce: knowing who is in front of you. Knowing the “profile,” the characteristics, the needs of your customers, and using this knowledge to address each one in a different way.
Today, this is made possible by the most innovative digital tools, which can be put to use during the dematerialization phases of the document archive. Let’s look at a case study that demonstrates real results.
Case Study: Fastweb and Doxee
Fastweb, one of the most important and innovative companies in the telephony sector, has decided to entrust Doxee with the dematerialization of its business processes and the entire management of customer communication.
Doxee is a company that makes a customer-oriented approach—one that is as tailor-made and one-to-one as possible—the center of its business. Today, this partnership involves a volume of communications of about 2.5 million documents per month.
Since 2005, Doxee has enabled Fastweb invoices to be sent via digital channels and manages the subsequent storage (always digital) in compliance with current legislation, managing the entire process and assuming the role of Head of Storage Service. Invoices and reports are delivered to users via e-mail, certified e-mail (PEC), ordinary mail, or other digital channels.
Thanks to the services offered by Doxeee, Fastweb has been able to eliminate the complex and costly method of paper storage, replacing the physical warehouse and thus achieving significant cost savings. But that’s not all.
Doxee, in fact, manages the entire Customer Communication process: the flow of invoice creation has been radically re-designed and re-engineered through a dynamic and interactive layout that is tailored to the customer’s profile, thanks to the most innovative methods of personalization.
In this way, the invoice goes from a cold touch-point and becomes a new means of communication useful for increasing engagement and loyalty and for carrying out effective cross-selling and up-selling actions tailored to the customer.
This operation – carried out in an omni-channel perspective – has increased the number of Fastweb customers who are active on digital channels from 40% to over 85%. The number of new subscribers increased and the user loyalty rate improved significantly (with a corresponding reduction in the so-called “churn rate”).
It is therefore clear why in the prestigious “Aspire Leaderboard” for 2018 Doxee was defined as an “excellent choice” for its modular CCM – Customer Communication Management services.
This is a concrete example of how dematerialization processes can be exploited not only to achieve significant economic savings, but also to improve dialog with users, ultimately generating new and unprecedented opportunities for revenue and growth.