SMEs Facing Three Main Challenges in Multi-channel Communications

Small and medium businesses (SMEs) face three main challenges when managing multi-channel communications, a survey by Neopost suggests.

A survey of 280 UK-based SMES, conducted for the mailing solutions specialist by Opinionway, found that, on average, SMEs generate 641 documents each month, and that over half of them use both physical and digital channels for general correspondence (59%) and invoicing (53%). Yet there appears to be a lack of know how when it comes to managing these methods effectively.

As well as managing different communication channels, the survey also revealed that SMEs use Word for only 49% of all outgoing communications, while 26% use Adobe and 15% use Excel. The process of managing these multiple formats is disjointed and many SMEs seem to be struggling with over engineered-routines, leading to confusion and traceability issues.

“Multi-channel communications pose many problems for small businesses and it’s clear that a lot of them are struggling to adapt their communication strategy,” said Erwan Kernevez, digital solutions director at Neopost. “The number of SMEs choosing to send outgoing communications electronically highlights the growing popularity of the paperless process; however doing this completely is all too often a daunting task.

Time wasting, a lack of traceability and human error are identified as the top three challenges small businesses face when managing their outgoing communications. SMEs often end up spending additional time manually editing documents, including adding attachments (76%), merging with other documents (74%) and adding further information (74%).

Not surprisingly, 47% of SMEs consider time-wasting as their biggest challenge, followed by the risk of human error (45%). With regards to traceability, SMEs rarely track their sent invoices or contracts, with 51% saying that they find it difficult to record communications across all channels.

“The challenges highlighted above are incredibly common amongst SMEs who don’t utilise a document management system,” said Kernevez. “Small companies waste far too much time manually preparing documents, and the chance of human error is simply too great.

“Compliance is also a big problem, with over half of SMEs unable to track their communications, which means they will only face problems when asked to show, or provide the status, of specific documents by the tax office or auditors.”

The survey coincides with NeoPost’s launch of NeoPreference, a cloud-based communication management tool, which automates document handling, enabling SMEs to handle physical and digital outgoing communication more effectively.

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