Acenden, one of the UK’s leading mortgage servicing companies, relies on its ability to send and receive 100,000s of letters every year. But with demand increasing, its existing print and mail operation could not cope.
By using a managed document service to outsource these operations, Acenden has transformed the way it communicates with customers, is able to meet regulatory requirements with less effort and has cut costs by more the 30 percent.
Acenden is a mortgage servicing specialist working with clients such as leading high street banks and building societies in the UK and Ireland. Acenden services mortgage loans, working with clients and customers to resolve mortgage problems in ways that meet their individual circumstances. Acenden has total lender assets under management exceeding £5.6 billion and services approximately 67,000 accounts. The company has three offices – High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, Dublin and London, the headquarters.
Despite the increase in digital communication, Acenden relies almost entirely on traditional post to carry out its business. Correspondence between Acenden and its clients’ customers generates over 12,000 outgoing and 11,000 incoming letters during a month.
Although outsourced, Acenden had an on-site print and mail room function with four staff to handle the entire print and mail requirements. But there were problems. Much of the mail room operation was manual, which was slow and not cost effective. For example, lengthy manual reconciliations were in place to make sure that pages from one letter did not get put into the wrong envelopes and sent out to customers. Some staff had started to print their own letters because they were concerned about delays and mistakes. Also, as a financial services company, Acenden has to make sure it has the right processes in place to comply with strict regulatory requirements.
Cindy Monk, Head of Customer Administration at Acenden, says, “Acenden had outgrown its mail room operations, but the economies of scale around trying to build something ourselves wasn’t feasible. We are experts in mortgage servicing, not print and mail and we needed someone who is an expert to tell us what benefits we could get through a new approach.”
After a detailed tender process, Acenden decided to partner with Ricoh. Monk says, “We looked at a number of different companies and found that most would ask ‘what do you want, we’ll design something for you’. The Ricoh approach was completely different. Ricoh said it would look at our business and then tell us what the business needed and, unlike other suppliers, Ricoh offered us the whole package. What we found impressive about Ricoh is that it didn’t just give us one solution, it gave us several and it is still coming up with new ideas.”
Acenden has deployed a Ricoh Managed Document Service (MDS), which includes outsourcing the entire print and mail operation to Ricoh, onsite mailroom management and office printing. The Ricoh MDS involved retaining some functions within the on-site mail room, but shifting around 90 percent of correspondence to Ricoh’s dedicated outsourcing print and mail operation in South London.
The solution also includes deploying 10 Ricoh mono and colour multifunction products (MFPs) across all of Acenden’s three offices. Equitrac is used to manage the fleet of Ricoh MFPs and provide staff with Follow Me printing.
The print and mail operation supports Acenden’s contact centre operation where 200 customer relationship agents communicate with customers and request or write correspondence related to each of the cases they handle. Ricoh has transformed this operation by implementing a fully automated workflow to manage the entire lifecycle from an agent composing a letter, to printing and posting the letter.
The Ricoh solution uses PlanetPress, in which Ricoh has built specific workflow processes and operations to manage letter creation, processing and printing. The system has around 650 letter templates which are populated in accordance with requirements. Letters are then sent, electronically, to Ricoh’s South London centre, where they are printed, put into envelopes and posted. One of the automation features of PlanetPress is the ability to apply barcodes to a document. These barcodes detail the number of pages in a letter which means that the intelligent mailing machines insert the correct number of pages into the envelope.
The onsite mail room, which is now staffed by experienced Ricoh employees, supports the normal day-to-day print and mail needs of the business. Because there is a cut off time for bulk mailing, if an agent has some late correspondence which has to be posted that night, the mail room prints and mails this, so agents and their customers continue to get a high level of service.
The mail room also handles incoming letters which are scanned and catalogued into Acenden’s workflow system so that agents have easy and instant access to their case-related documents and correspondence.
“The Ricoh solution has transformed and totally refreshed Acenden’s entire print and mail operation both on and offsite. It is now something that just happens and that we don’t need to worry about. On top of that, it has saved the business money and made it much easier for Acenden to comply with regulatory requirements,” says Monk.
Acenden says that the Ricoh MDS is helping to save the business over 30 percent on print and mail costs every year. The company also expects to save around 25 percent of costs by using Ricoh to manage document archiving. These savings have been achieved by outsourcing all document management operations to Ricoh, but also by using the Ricoh MDS to put in place more efficient and automated processes and workflows.
The Ricoh service has also enabled Acenden to provide a much more efficient and faster service to its customers. For example, there are a number of rigorous service level agreements (SLAs) in place such as same-day posting of correspondence, scanning incoming letters and reducing time to recall a file. Ricoh has met or exceeded all of these SLAs.
“Whenever we meet with Ricoh and raise a problem, Ricoh always seems to have something in its kitbag that fits and helps us sort it out. But it is never in a painful way and it’s always something that is just right. With Ricoh you don’t feel you are being sold something that you don’t need or having products forced down your throat. Ricoh is always there to help us when we need something,” says Monk.
One example of Ricoh being innovative and proactive to help Acenden improve business operations is a suggestion to look at letter types and determine which are urgent and which are not. This will help streamline the operation, help get urgent post out to customers faster and reduce post costs on other non-urgent letters, all without impacting overall quality and performance.
“The benefits of the Ricoh solution are multiple. Mainly it is the flexibility of the model we now have that Ricoh has developed. We can move a lot quicker and we can move at volume. So far there has been nothing that a new client has come to us with that we can’t deliver knowing that we have Ricoh on board. With Ricoh we have the kind of flexible solutions that mean we can easily meet our clients’ needs,” says Monk.
The Ricoh solution has proved so beneficial and important to Acenden’s business, that when the company pitches for new business it presents the Ricoh solution as an example of how Acenden delivers a first class service.