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Episode 43: “Communicating with Today’s Savvy Customer” with Dave Zamorski, General Manager of Digital Solutions for Broadridge Customer Communications

Dave Zamorski, General Manager of Digital Solutions for Broadridge Customer Communications, and Matt Swain discuss creating needs-based communication strategies, drawing upon Broadridge’s third annual CX and Communications Trends Insights survey results.

Matt: I'm Matt Swain. You're listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast where we discuss the opportunities and challenges facing companies on the road to optimizing their communications for the future. Today I'm joined by Dave Zamorski, general manager of Broadridge Customer Communications Digital Solutions. Dave, thanks for joining today.

Dave: Hey, Matt. Thanks for having me. I tell you I have been on panels with you and a lot of other things over the years, but I've never been interviewed by you. So, I look forward to it.

Matt: Yeah. Actually, it's wild that we haven't had this opportunity. So, thank you for joining.

Dave: Yeah. I think it's been 20 something years that before both of us joined Broadridge even. You know, it was a good move on Broadridge's behalf to hire such talented people.

Matt: Exactly. That's what I keep telling them. All right. So, let me start a little bit with your background, as you already teed up. You've spent the last 10 years before joining Broadridge in strategy consulting. Before that, you were running award-winning print and digital solutions businesses. You were doing a great job from an integrated marketing campaign perspective and getting a lot of press around that. So, I'd love to hear a little bit more about what brought you here to Broadridge and the career path that preceded it.

Dave: Okay. Well, literally I've been in communications my whole life. I'm not exaggerating. I was actually running little presses at the University of Delaware printing my own exams actually. But I did work in a print shop and it was great experience because that's when Xerox walked in with a digital device that came in, a copier that literally wiped out a whole bank of little presses. It knocked out a whole shift. So that was my first exposure to digitization. And then from there I've worked at ad agencies and then spent 10 years with Agfa, and then moved into owning my own print facilities.

I started out as a lot of people with the conventional print I was one of the earliest adopters as you know, Matt, of digital print and moving there. And I laugh at some of the technologies today how they've morphed, improved. I was delivering microsites way back in 2008 and expanding out there.

Now the utilization of microsite has grown significantly, and they have a lot more technologies with them, and can do more with them from when I was first. So, one of the things that's driving this though was, I was looking at it from then...digital process back then was very new. There really weren’t much marketing campaigns going on. It was the old state of print-ready and distribute. And I was one of the earliest adopters, as I said, of that. And we took it out to a point where we were doing integrated marketing campaigns, we were driving those.

Very similar to what's happening with your regulatory and transactional today as they're taking on those technologies and expanding out, and looking for better customer experience, that's what I was driving in the past. From there, we really morphed into working with large professional sports organizations. We were working with pharmaceutical companies and large banking companies and doing huge integrated marketing campaigns and was really my foray into that that I started doing consulting.

Even when I had my own company I was going into some of the providers I used and go into their largest accounts, and helping them bridge their communication strategies, where they were going, how they could improve in that arena. That was really the springboard for me. I was one of the lucky ones of when the large commercial printers that didn't have digital, were looking for people that were very savvy and digital, and I ended up selling my company out to a very large organization that was looking to bring in savvy digital. We'd won, I think, 30 some awards. We were well known for what we were doing.

I then just started out going into consulting as a whole and I'm working with Fortune 1000 companies on their, I would say not just digital communications, but communications as a whole, what is your strategy, current state, where are you, where do you want to be future state. It gave me a good insight into the clients we're dealing with today actually and building those out. Because these were the large banks...we're dealing with the large banks, the large insurance companies, large healthcares, pharmaceuticals, and building out strategies.

And I actually ran across Broadridge in one of those strategy sessions, because we used to do all the RFIs and RFPs for digital and print communications. And literally three years later, I ended up joining the company where I've gone up through being the head of strategy for BRCC to now the general manager of the digital solutions.

Matt: Yeah. Excellent. It's a really interesting background in that your print business grew up in a time that was "early days" for internet and its impact on the communications market. The integrated marketing campaigns that you were doing on behalf of your clients then, some of things you even alluded to are things that we're just now starting to see become more mainstream in the transactional and regulatory communications market. I'd love to hear your thoughts on adapting to some of those shifting market dynamics and also maybe describe the nuances between the communications types, why has it taken so long for transaction and regulatory communications to catch up.

Dave: It's interesting because what's the saying? What's old is new again. And it's interesting watching the technology. So, I think the marketing aspect of this was much earlier adopters of these technologies. There was a push, and Matt, you know this quite well back in, I would say the mid 2000s, late 2000s, for what they were calling TransPromo. And it never really seemed to take off in those days. I don't think there was enough science behind it and literally enough even experience to drive the great messaging that's available today. There's been so much more emphasis and I think it's a great timing now for transactional and regulatory to be taking this on.

And how do we make that statement much more appealing to the person that's reading the mail and also tie that into the digital aspects of it now, which have so many more facets to deliver. When I was doing this with the marketing companies, you really had email. There wasn't SMS, there wasn't all these other modems to go out on. So, we're behind with the transactional and regulatory, but I think it's catching up quick just because of the technologies that are out there. I still stick with the, “what's old is new.” It's new to this, but I think the technologies are vastly improved from where they were.

Matt: You make some great points. While you were doing integrated marketing campaigns, you didn't have the full tool set available to you then that we now have. And also, just the proliferation of digital channels, and access to those channels certainly helps, from a recipient perspective knowing that they'll be able to take action in a digital world just as easily.

Dave: Right. And you watch some of the tools I had, Matt, back then have been bought out by the larger companies or incorporated into some of their platforms and toolsets that they have now. So back when I was doing this, I spent a lot of money integrating these tools with one another because they were separate companies, they, you know, they didn't even talk to each other. So, we were doing a lot of integration work back then. Today, the availability of, integrated comm and open platforms are starting to become more prevalent.

Matt: Well, we could do a whole podcast on that topic alone, right?

Dave: Right.

Matt: The siloed systems and technologies that don't talk to one another, and the importance of having the open platform. I want to back up first to some of the data that came out of that report that we just published, the third annual CX and communications trends research. And you and I discussed it a little bit during our webinar. One of the data points that's interesting is that 23% of consumers say that they would prefer to receive print only communications, and that's across demographics. It's not only boomers for instance. 32% want access to digital but still want print. And then 45% want digital only. I know that because you and I have spent so much time in this industry, you've read the headlines, you know, the death of print, print is dying or going away. Can you talk a little bit about the staying power of print as well as part of the channel mix?

Dave: And I think print's staying power was really first tested back in what was 2007, 2008, the Great Recession, right? I remember sitting with CEOs of very large Fortune 50 companies that had pronounced print dead, they weren't gonna spend any more money on print. Everybody was moving to email and literally just email, and then we were gonna drive the market, and push that way. And it was a big fail to be honest with you, it was a big fail. What happened is everybody moved to email. And then it really was role reversal because then you got too many emails. So, people weren't reading the emails.

We're actually seeing the move with print and the direct marketing, you know, the campaigns, has actually increased over the last couple years. So, mail is actually increased in that arena. There is a need to reduce into the transactional print. Instead of sending out that 30-page statement, can you make it a 2-page statement? Still had their regulations that you need, but also then just drive them to a dynamic site of some sort, through either QR code or however you want to go about it.  I’ve got four kids. Two of them get mail from their advisers and they're both very tech savvy, they live and die on all their different mediums that they use. And I laughed with it because they still want that piece of mail because their inbox is so full, they don't notice the advisors’ emails. So, they still like that piece of mail that's driving them to either another site or gives them the information they need right there, and if they need more, then they can go look at it online. So, it's interesting to watch. These are 28 and a 35-year-that are very much tech savvy that are sitting there going, "No, I want mail." And so, we have to be cognizant of that across the board. Your studies, Matt, showed that with the millennials still big fan of, you know, mail. Not saying that's what they always want, but that's where they are today.

Matt: Yeah. There are a couple of different data points that come to mind in what you just said. One of those was that we found that 28% of millennials said, "We don't see the value in going paperless. I want to continue to receive the mail." And I think part of that is, you know, what is the experience, how is the digital experience better than the paper-based experience. But then also, regardless of what channel the person is receiving the communication through, their preference is for providers to use plain language, to allow me to select how I want to receive the communication and summarize the important information, to your point, instead of 30 pages, can we do this in 2?

How does that first page summary give me everything I need to know and then I can turn pages to the things that I would like to know? Those become really interesting when we start to think about the overall experience and improving experiences. In the study we found that 77% of consumers said that they would be more likely to go paperless if the provider, the company they do business with, delivered a better digital experience. Does that surprise you?

Dave: It does in one aspect, but it doesn't in another, Matt. I'm surprised that we're still having that high number that aren't just strictly digital. Because that means, the companies need to look at how they are communicating as a whole, the whole entire journey. When we start looking at it, people really look at how do we communicate better with our clients. But what they're also missing is that that back-end journey. We’re working with large insurance companies on their claims and that's the same thing, the claims process is still a pretty manual laborious process and not enjoyable at all from the customer experience.

And so, we're working with them on how you improve that, how do you make the forms more intuitive, make it much easier so it's not a struggle and not frustrating for the client. So, when we start working with our clients, we're looking at not just input from data files, but what are all the touches that that client is gonna have to give them a better experience. And I think that's what's missing today.

Matt: Yeah. Unfortunately, you'll have a lot of examples of people with frustrating claims processes coming out of the south over the last few weeks with all the frozen pipes and water damage that we've been seeing.

Dave: That frustration is even worse because think about what has happened. There are no more call centers, they're not sitting together there, there's a lot of people still doing this from their home. So, it really is pressing the need for more digitalization, better websites, better information that you can obtain when you get on there.

Matt: We often talk about creating engaging experiences from a document delivered, the theme of a bill or statement, a recurring document. But where the biggest stressors are in that customer journey are things like a claims process where there's been some event where somebody really is looking for stability in a partner in their firm and they're looking for simplicity in that experience because there's already a heightened level of stress. And I think that's a great example of where you're looking at different parts of the journey and figuring out how to optimize those, how to make the overall experience better.

Dave: Well, think about it, you can have... Then at that point, you can have a great looking statement, you can have a great website, very intuitive, you have all those pieces, but then the customer becomes frustrated on that piece of it and you lose the customer. They get frustrated and they go someplace else. So that whole experience you can create upfront, but if you don't follow the whole journey and complete it, it still leaves holes and you can still lose clients that way. And I think that's where your 80% comes from is, you know, that digital only is a big statement and, you know, are these companies providing, end to end, a great digital experience, not just communication, but all the way across the experience.

Matt: Yeah. You went from being the doer or the implementer to being the strategist. You joined Broadridge as the strategist and they said, "Okay. You have the idea so now go do it." So now you're executing. I'd be really interested to hear, through your lens, when you're thinking about the challenges that you're hearing clients facing, the things that we know about to create better experiences, how are you approaching examples like that claims example? How are you approaching those client challenges and helping solve for them through Broadridge technology?

Dave: So, one of the advantages we have, when we work with our clients, is we have a whole arsenal of weapons to go in there that we can use for solutioning. But the first part is we're not in there selling a particular box. When we see some of our competitors that are in there, this is what they make, this is the area they focus on, and that's all they talk about. We go in from a more consultative selling approach and really try to understand, you know, where they are today and really where do they want to be.

And then they even take it further because I love a lot of stuff that you do, Matt, where does our client want to be, right? And that's the piece that is really important. It's like, the company wants to be there, but where do they want to go. And that's really one of the aspects we look at. Because then we don't go in with a preconceived, this is the solution for you. We look at it from a, "Okay. We've got all this. Let us take this away. Come back and we'll talk to you about this strategy. And if it makes sense, then we can put the solutions together for where you want to go and what you want to do." So, we can pick and choose from a lot. Think about the expanse of Broadridge and how big we are.

We've been very successful, we've been able to help a lot of the clients that way, but it's also how much do they want to participate. Because some of them have some very highly technical people, very professional that are really very worldly on all this. And so, we work with them on that as well. I see a lot of other people out there that are coming in as an "expert" on CX and it's much broader than just CX. It's the whole journey that needs to be addressed, and I think that's one of the areas that we address well.

Matt: Yeah. The front-end journey as well as the back end of the ecosystem. There is increased discussion in the market now around companies that are trying to place the box, if you will, and the reality that a lot of companies don't want to wholesale replace everything, and switch one box out for the new box. They're looking at solving for specific needs in the near term, and then scalability over time, on an open platform where you can have different systems talk to one another.

Dave: Right. The modularity, the open APIs, being able to connect and, you know, if they want to continue to use their own archival system, they can use that. If they want to use their own preference management, we can connect with that and drive from there. You know, it's giving the customer the opportunity to pick and choose, and not have to buy the one big box that does all. We can certainly do that, but majority of customers have some very specific needs. And so, we adapt our solutions around where they want to be and where their strengths are.

Matt: I want to go back to the data, and we had another question in the survey where we asked consumers about what we would talk about is the omni-channel experience, right? In that survey, we found that 84% of consumers actually said that they expect companies to make it easy to interact across channels, up from 68% in 2019 who wanted that. So, the shift from want to expectation also kind of begs the question, why do our clients so heavily focus on the channel itself? Is it the cost reduction of moving away from print and postage or is there this expectation that you have to be in this either/or mode in terms of the recipient wanting to communicate in print or digitally?

Dave: Yeah. I think there's a little bit of both to what you just said, Matt. When I walk into clients and one of the first things they want to do is get paper suppression, I always love to ask what is the driver behind that. And majority of the time it becomes a cost savings. And if that's your main driver..., then it's not going to be a great program. You can't build it on cost suppression alone, right? Cost suppression to me should be the icing on the cake. To me, you want to build that experience, you need to be able to communicate across the board. We look at print as nothing more than another omni-channel output. And I think customers that don't look at it that way are struggling a little bit because it should not be any more than one of the 12 spokes that we can output, and that's really where the [00:26:00.331] drive is. You know, if you create a superior message, give them a better experience across the whole journey, they'll naturally start moving away from print. But to sit there and drive it, as the main driver, is really difficult and it doesn't necessarily lend you to the best messaging.

Matt: And it can have detrimental impact, right? It could be, you know, unpaid bills, it could be increased call center volume.

Dave: One of your stats, Matt, was...and I don't remember when it was, but it was talking about how many people use print as a reminder to pay a bill. They sit there and get that piece of mail, put it on their desk, they go online and pay. But that's the reminder, their calendar. how do we find that notification process for them? That's maybe not that printed piece, is there another way to look at that? How do we give them another reminder that isn't print, that serves the same purpose?

Matt: Yeah. And I think there's also the ability to increase the value of what's in the envelope by reducing the page count. You deliver for the reminder, you summarize everything on a quick glance, and then somebody flips over their mobile app or their web portal experience and takes the desired action. And for, you know, a statement experience, it could be review or account allocations and it might just be more about keeping you up to date on your account than actually taking the action of paying the bill, but you still are getting that digital engagement if you have a smartly designed paper-based experience.

Dave: Right. And if you have the great design on the statements or on the bill, the letters, whatever it is, and you can drive them to digital, you can eventually just move them to a digital atmosphere, and that will happen on its own. It's just finding the right way to communicate with them. And that's where we're really working with our clients on, how do you drive to an action that you want and that the client wants? That's really what it is.

Matt: So Dave, use a combination of the strategy that you're putting into place today and a little crystal ball and talk to me about what you think the future of the customer communications market looks like? How does it continue to evolve in the next few years?

Dave: That's a great question, it will take hours to go through. I see it going more and more digital. Some of the changes are gonna be coming out of the regulatory areas, the huge documents being sent out are going to change. I kind of look at the print market and the digital market almost similar to how retail is today and where it's moving. So, the brick and mortars are still there today, but as the online experience gets better, the clients get used to dealing with it and that's how they're doing business.

So if they continue to improve that online experience, it's gonna reduce the amount of brick and mortar that's out there. And I think you're watching the same thing happening in the industry with us right now. The better experience we can give them, the less they're going to need that print. I think the experience though is going to be more understanding the clients, there's going to be more data analytics involved, and there's going to be more AI and machine learning that comes with it, there has to be, to make this more intuitive and I think that's going to be the big drive and where we're seeing the significant growth. But it's all about the entire journey and I think we're going to see more emphasis on the, I'll say the back half of the journey, the actual, you know, customer touch than I think that's been in play right now. There's been so much focus on that initial message, but I think it has to carry through the journey. I think that's really where we're gonna see some really big growth.

Matt: Well, Dave, it's been a pleasure interviewing you for the first time over our lives of knowing one another. Thanks so much for joining today.

Dave: No problem, Matt. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. And it was great. Thank you.

Matt: I'm Matt Swain and you've been listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast. If you like this episode and think someone else would too, please share it, leave a review, and don't forget to subscribe. And if you're ready to reimagine customer experiences, consider the Broadridge Communications Cloud, an end-to-end platform for creating, delivering, and managing omni-channel communications, and customer engagement. To learn more about Broadridge, our insights, and our innovations, visit broadridge.com or find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.