Xerox modernizes customer letter, cancel rates drop

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Xerox Corp., a company with a brand so ubiquitous it has become the generic word for photocopy, realized one piece of its customer communications arsenal was not doing a very good job of "walking the walk."

Xerox needed to update its customer letter for service agreement renewals. The standard letter failed to communicate Xerox's message and was not an effective marketing vehicle.

"Here's a company that is all about documents, and the renewal letter wasn't doing the job," said Michael Guerin, services marketing manager, Xerox North America Marketing & Planning.

Outdated and old-fashioned

Originally created in the 1970s, the monochrome, typewritten business letter design was outdated and old-fashioned. "It wasn't on brand for Xerox," Guerin said.

It was also double-sided, so the message wasn't always clear. Some customers contacted Xerox complaining they were not given service renewal rates in the letter. A Xerox rep had to gently suggest they turn the page over.

The letter provided cancellation and renewal options, but if customers wanted anything else-such as a new machine-they had to call Xerox.

Most troubling, Xerox couldn't target customers with a single letter. Cross-selling was out. "If you send a letter to a customer who has a fax, you don't want to up-sell them on a half-million-dollar iGen [digital printer]," Guerin said.

Xerox overhauled the program, starting with design and ending with the ability to create customized communications.

Along with agency Sigma Marketing Group, Guerin transformed the letter into a full-color, single-page document that doubled as a sample with, "Printed on a Xerox DocuColor iGen3 Digital Production Press using Xerox Digital color Xpressions+ Paper and genuine Xerox Supplies" printed along the bottom.

Five customer profiles

Xerox's database was divided into five customer profiles, with each getting a distinct message. For example, a public sector customer who rents equipment and has it serviced got a different letter than a commercial, service-only account.

Data is the linchpin. "It is core to everything we do," said Donna Ford, account relationship leader, Sigma Marketing Group. Predictive modeling, a basic database tactic, shapes that. "It [predictive modeling] forced us to grab several different source databases and combine them into a single data warehouse where we had the ability to look across multiple systems," such as billing, repair and sales.

"You can step back and figure out how to talk to people based on what themes are in common," Ford said.

Xerox now uses 28 letters in its program, and efforts are paying off. Guerin said the cancel rate has dropped by 24%, while trade rates-trade-ins for new equipment rather than renewing or canceling-improved by 30%.

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