Most companies have migrated to electronic methods of transferring and storing communications, and yet fax machines still linger around most offices, spitting out reams of paper, half of which ends up either filed or shredded.
Many offices keep their fax machines to handle purchase procedures that require signed agreements or order forms. However, using newer technology, many companies integrate electronic signatures into their online customer agreement pages and make the switch to online fax services.
So how do you gently retire your fax machine and switch to online fax services while maintaining good customer relations?
Here are some things to think about before letting your fax machine go:
- How often is the fax machine used and how many of those document transfers could be done electronically?
- Consider the cost of utilizing the fax machine including paper, phone lines, modems, long distance charges, purchase price of the machine, toner, repairs and so on.
- How much hourly payroll funds are spent transferring printed fax documents to electronic form? For example, time spent entering product order information or customer, inventory or shipping data.
If after evaluating the cost involved in keeping your fax machine, you determine it would be more cost effective to consider an electronic option, how do you change procedure without disrupting service?
Implement changes slowly, not overnight. For example:
- Launch an online ordering system and take time to educate your current customers on how to use it.
- Educate your security-wary clients on modern encryption methods for electronic data transfers.
- If it is not cost effective for your company to host an entire online ordering website, you can build an electronic form that your customers can send by email.
- Build new procedures for handling and processing online/email orders.
- Encourage email interactions and ways of archiving and sharing important communications.
After new procedures are comfortably in place and everything is running smoothly, again evaluate the cost of keeping your fax machine. If you still have a few customers or clients that prefer fax contact, consider using an online fax service. An online fax service can reduce your costs to under $10 per month for about 200 inbound/outbound faxes. These services allow you to send and receive faxes through an email account, so you can maintain electronic communication and yet provide your fax dependant clients with an option. Some services will even allow you to keep your current 1-800 fax number.
So instead of giving your fax machine the pink slip, consider a gentle retirement, to maintain consistent customer relations and ultimately save you money.