B2B Messaging Should be Relevant and Timely

This week I received a letter in the mail from my healthcare provider, BCBS of Illinois.  It was stamped DO NOT FORWARD, DO NOT RETURN.  I often wonder what mail carriers do when they see this information.  Even if they know the package is addressed to the wrong person or has the wrong address, do they leave it anyway?  I guess in this instance, BCBS of Illinois has no interest in knowing they have incorrect information for their enrollees.

But the DO NOT FORWARD stamp isn’t really what was most interesting about this letter.  Inside there were two items that caused me to wonder, shouldn’t communication be relevant and timely,  especially from an industry plagued with allegations of waste and excessive fees?  The first item in the envelope was a folded postcard that was addressed “Dear Member…Enclosed is your generic Description of Coverage…You can request a plan-specific version by sending back this postcard.”  Of course the postcard is blank and you have to enter your member id and group number.  But don’t they already have this information since they’re sending me the letter in the first place?  And, if I’m not a member, why would I need this postcard since I would have not have the information necessary to complete it?

The second thing in the envelope was a 12-page booklet titled, “2010 Description of Coverage.”  Yes, that’s right, 2010.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t 2010 start 9 months ago?  And isn’t it almost time for open enrollment to select a new plan for 2011 for most people?  Ok, maybe they sent it in January and it’s just now making it through the mail system … nope, I’m not going to blame the USPS for this one.  

When communicating with your customers, especially via promotional and marketing materials, it’s vital to be relevant (why should I care about what you’re sending) and timely (do I have enough time to act on it). Can you imagine a trade association sending its members a 2010 calendar of events sometime this week?  How would you respond to a mailing from the Cubs or White Sox promoting season ticket offers for the 2010 season?

Here’s how I responded to BCBS…

Dear BCBS of Illinois,
You are a little late communicating my 2010 benefits. Not only is it not timely, it may not be relevant since it’s a “Generic Description of Coverage.” I don’t think I will waste more of your money (aka MY money) by sending back the enclosed postcard.  Instead, I’ll just wait for the 2011 open enrollment coming next month.  But unlike your other letters that are sitting in the recycling bins of wrong addressees, I did receive mine.  That’s something good, right?


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