Is a Document Contestable?
In the past, archiving a printout or a copy was sufficient proof that a document actually existed. But there's more to it now: A company must be able to track the entire correspondence creation process seamlessly - from the "delivery" of data (e.g. from the database applications or a CRM system) to the creation or production of an to electronic and/or traditional delivery, including archiving.
This is where many companies reach their limits. Many cannot even prove the correct dispatch because they do not have the technology to uniquely identify each letter, e.g. by assigning a document ID. Similarly, it is difficult to calculate the cost of redundant deliveries of the same document (e.g. undeliverable due to wrong or incomplete address or because the recipient did not reply).
One thing's for sure: The benefits of digitization are not yet reflected in business communications as they should be. The technologies are abundant, but many companies lack the necessary awareness, not only of the existence of solutions, but also of how to reconcile them. Often companies also do not have a stringent data storage strategy and are therefore only partially able to use contextual data from a customer transaction. What is missing is a 360-degree view of the communication history.
Surprisingly, it is governments that are increasingly acting as drivers of digitization. This has to do with the increasing requirements and directives to which the public sector is subject. In United States, for example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is going through great lengths to make documents and correspondence accessible and 508 compliant so that users with visual impairments can have these documents read to them by a screen reader.
Another popular trend is that some laws require invoices to be stored in an audit-proof manner and also to provide proof that they have been properly sent by post or electronically. So it is not only about the document itself, but also about the circumstance or delivery method. In other words, the legal value of a communication is measured by the extent to which it can be credibly and seamlessly reproduced or proven. Some countries like France have already developed a standard for this: "NF Z 42.026". It defines which criteria the digital copy of a document must meet in order to be legally recognized as evidence (for example, in courts).
As verification is the core of Blockchain technology, based on the principle of "distributed burden of proof", the technology creates a secure framework by means of specific rules and obligations to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of exchanged data or content. In fact, against the background of different regulatory contexts, blockchain offers the opportunity to facilitate, for example, the recognition of certificates, attestations and legally relevant documents. In the event of a dispute, it could then become more difficult to doubt the validity of a document. Not an insignificant advantage if one considers that many legal cases are won precisely by challenging documents.
Blind Flight: If Not All Information Is at Hand Immediately
The explosive nature of this issue is also reflected in the following example: The bills of an energy supplier are questioned by a number of customers. Manual verification shows that consumers are right. Apart from the image damage - the real problem for the supplier is to uncover as quickly and comprehensively as possible th e faulty spot in the document production. Are the business applications to blame for this? Was there a "data leak" in the communications chain? If so, where? What is the procedure for solving the problem? Not an easy task, considering that the "life cycle" of a document is quite complex.
Many companies are dealing with grey areas. One could also say: You are not able to have all data related to a certain document available centrally and consistently. Remaining doubt. Is the information really complete and up-to-date? Is there possibly data that has not flowed into the output management system (OMS) and instead resides on a decentralized server? This lack of transparency ultimately makes customer communication the weakest link in the company's entire value chain.
The inability to seamlessly monitor document production steps not only involves the risk of breaches of regulatory requirements (compliance). Rather, it is one of the main reasons for inefficiency and unnecessary costs in customer communication in general.