By Martin Rides
We have all heard the story of Henry Ford. He modelled the first assembly lines and pioneered mass production in the early part of the 20th century. Many of the concepts introduced by Ford were to become the precursors to lean manufacturing, one such concept was his focus on quality. Ford is famously quoted saying ‘Quality means doing it right when no one is looking’. Applying this mantra of ‘doing it right’ to direct mail raises a number of questions.
For instance do you know of any mail producers or printers who claim to offer anything other than exceptional quality products and service? Can you genuinely articulate how the quality of your direct mail service is distinctively different to a competitor who is only a google search away? Chances are this question might be a difficult one to answer for many of us.
In almost every industry you can find examples of companies who have broken away from their competitors based on quality. Whether it’s the transformation of Apple, the rise of Starbucks or the ‘fanatical support’ of Rackspace. These companies enjoy higher profits and greater customer loyalty as they are able to articulate what is distinctly different about the quality of the products and services they offer. These companies obsess about the experience of their customers and are motivated to find new and innovative ways to delight them.
Data processing and data quality provide countless opportunities for mail producers to differentiate their service from competitors. Every time a piece of mail arrives with a misspelled name, an irredeemable offer or an incomplete address it is having a negative effect on the brand of the sender. Mail providers who differentiate themselves based on quality would seek these details as opportunities to stand out and show how they care and why they are different.
If Apple were a direct mail company how do you think they would react to any Royal Mail penalties, undeliverables, gone aways or recipient complaints? Would Henry Ford write off a pile of return to sender mailings as a tolerable level of defects? For direct mail quality to actually mean something again, we must identify opportunities to go beyond simply what our client asks us to do.
Lean DM sets a higher standard for direct mail and data quality. Inspired by the lean manufacturing teachings of Toyota, Lean DM brings together the principles of eliminating direct mail waste and championing of data quality.