Quality check: Is your direct mail supplier up to standard?
Whether it’s passing the Christmas deadline panic, starting a new financial year, or simply being inspired by the fresh start, the new year often prompts organisations to carry out reviews. That’s certainly true users of direct mail, but one review you may overlook is the quality record and procedures of your direct mail supplier.
Over recent years, the economic downturn has rightly focussed service buyers on cost, what is clear now is that the best companies, despite having to tighten their belts too, have continued to provide the highest level of service and continued to invest in employees, equipment and technology, ensuring process and security are paramount.
While vetting such procedures may seem like unnecessary red tape, it can be a smart long-term move. Most organisations that use direct mail specialists do know better than to simply pick the cheapest option, but relying on past performance and even personal experience when selecting and maintaining a supplier is inadequate. That simply tells you everything has gone great so far, but doesn’t adequately address the risks that the service might drop off in the future.
That’s where quality procedures come in. There’s no such thing as a 100% guarantee, but looking for direct mail specialists with proven and accredited quality procedures is the best way to make sure the fundamentals are in place and risks are minimised.
So what to look for? Numerous ISO standards measure whether a company is up to scratch on a range of specialist procedures, usually through independent accreditation and assessment. Some key standards to look out for in a direct mail specialist are ISO 27001, which covers the way firms handle and store confidential data such as customer information; ISO 14001, which covers environmental management; and ISO 9001, which covers the overall way a company maintains quality, meeting customer needs while still complying with legal regulations.
You can also look for the Investors in People standard (managed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills rather than the ISO.) This uses a recognised (basic), then bronze, silver and gold standard to assess whether a firm has a clear business plan, realistic and measurable targets for achieving the plan, and effective systems for managing staff and harnessing their ideas.
Dealing with direct mail suppliers who meet the standard is useful to meet your own business’s ethical value framework. Just as significantly, firms that meet the standard are more likely to be able to grow, adapt and maintain excellent service to customers rather than being inflexible, stagnant and unable to deal with potential crises.
Remember that not every reputable direct mail supplier will have opted to get accreditation for standards, perhaps because it feels the administration involved is not worthwhile. But never be afraid to ask about a potential supplier’s quality procedures because ultimately the way they run their business directly affects the service they can give you.
Romax Marketing & Distribution, a Greenwich-London based company, provides a wide range of services in Direct Marketing for B2B and B2C, Direct Mail, Data Management, Printing, Discount Postage and Membership Communication Services and Consultancy. Contact us: email@example.com +44 (0) 20 8293 8550
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