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encompass - Customer service and content delivery software for newspaper publishers

Typically, ads stream into a newspaper’s advertising department via fax or email, generating reams of hard copy and scores of files that need to be processed, routed, and filed. The resulting paper trail generates tangible records of the ads, but it also creates storage headaches and can result in errors or misplaced ads. 

Fax and e-mail may handle the delivery side of the issue, but there’s still the matter of archiving and processing all of those submissions — not to mention establishing a workflow for ensuring the materials are handled properly.

encompass is the customer service and content delivery communication system that gathers and processes incoming email text, attachments, faxes, web forms, and FTP file transfers, and manages them in an SQL database.

A comprehensive system, encompass centralizes the processing of electronic ad submissions. Whether your customers submit their ad materials via the web, email, or fax, the encompass system receives, records, and routes the resulting data. By managing all electronic submissions in a single system — regardless of input origin — encompass puts submission materials at your staff’s fingertips, resulting in increased efficiency and lower operational costs.

encompass makes it easy for your customers and contributors to submit materials at any time of day — from insertion orders and ad materials to press releases, obituaries, event listings, or local sports scores. By recording the submissions electronically, encompass has all materials available instantly for routing to the appropriate recipient based on workflows established by your publication.

Further, encompass can automatically confirm receipt of these materials via fax or e-mail, providing a valuable customer service while freeing up your staff to handle other responsibilities.

A modular system

encompass is a modular and flexible system that allows you to purchase just the capabilities your publication needs. encompass is a client/server system running on Windows NT server with both Macintosh and Windows clients. encompass provides a scalable solution for publications of virtually any size.

The Fax module allows customers to submit materials by fax. These faxed materials, such as display ads or classifieds, are automatically scanned by encompass' built-in OCR system, digitally recorded, and then routed to the sales reps for processing. While processing the contents of the fax, encompass can automatically identify the sender based on the fax number.

Customer e-mail submissions are handled by the E-mail module. As it receives an e-mail, encompass processes any attachments and stores them in the database with the e-mail text, whether the e-mail is an advertising or editorial submission.

The attached files can also be sent to a network or local drive to be incorporated into the publication’s workflow, such as when editorial submissions are e-mailed by a stringer.

For those files that are specially formatted according to a publication’s guidelines, sender and ad information can be compared to the existing encompass database of customer data. When a match is found, encompass automatically records the materials in the database, filling in any missing fields in the submission. The ad materials can then be reviewed by the sales rep for quality assurance before they’re submitted to the front-end system, accepted, and confirmed.

Customer service advantages

For newspapers inundated by customers calling to confirm receipt of their submissions, encompass can reduce those calls by generating automatic receipts by fax or e-mail. These receipts can be formatted according to your publication’s specifications to include whatever message you want to convey. encompass can also send custom receipts to your most valuable clients, and tailor the receipt for different types of content submissions. Further, system administrators can restrict use of automatic confirmation to avoid problems with certain content-sensitive categories such as Help Wanted ads.

Having a variety of submission options available to your ad customers can increase the value of your services by offering added convenience. What’s more, your publication can increase its ad-processing capacity without adding staff.

A typical workflow

As a customer submits an ad, encompass records the submission in its database, establishing a permanent record of the original document that can never be modified.

The rep can then check all current ads to see those that are pending review, sorted by priority. As a rep selects an item, encompass opens a window in which the rep can see and enter details about the ad in fields located in the window’s header.

For faxed content, the customer’s fax is scanned and translated into live text by encompass' OCR component. During the OCR process, encompass highlights any words or phrases that it has trouble interpreting or those that weren’t confirmed by the spell check, making it easy for the rep to hone in on specific sections while proofing the text where needed. Mousing over highlighted text automatically brings up the same text as it appears in the fax, so the rep can easily compare and make corrections.

After each ad is complete and verified, it’s easily submitted to the encompass host and on to the front-end system, or to another production system such as MEI’s Roundhouse® Ad Tracking System. After processing by the host, encompass sends a detailed confirmation fax or e-mail to the customer.

Automatic processing capabilities

For publications seeking an additional level of automation, encompass can be configured so that customers can tag the contents of their emails and faxes according to a publication’s specifications. This allows encompass to automatically parse the ad data on the way into the database, streamlining the process even more. encompass can even monitor local or remote directories for files to process into specific workflows.

encompass' Internet/Outlook Forms module allows your customers to submit content such as classified ads, obituaries, resumes, and press releases via e-mail or web forms, so that all content submissions are structured in a similar way.

Forms can prompt customers to enter specific ad information, such as customer name, ad dimensions, ad type, and other insertion details. For web forms, your customers can navigate to a secure area of your web site and fill in an online form that prompts them for this information. When an e-mail or web form is submitted, encompass automatically parses and processes the data and sends it to the appropriate host system.

The FTP module allows a site to configure automatic workflows for e-mail attachments, FTP file transfers, or watched folders, handling many of the production processing steps associated with a particular type of file. As e-mails are received, encompass can move any attachment to the appropriate destination drive or server, automatically execute a program against the file, and then alert the appropriate person about the action taken. For example, if a newspaper receives a display ad in an attachment for use on its web site, encompass could automatically run the ad through the OCR process to isolate the text. This text could be used on the web site to allow the display ad to be included in search results. And the production manager could receive an e-mail notifying him of the file process.

For proofing of ad content and design, whether for display or classified ads, encompass offers a WYSIWYG Outbound module that sends a copy of the final ad to the customer via fax or e-mail for proofing. This offers customers faster access to reliable proofs, streamlining the review and approval process.

Competitive advantages

By offering the flexibility to accept and process ad and editorial materials submitted via web, e-mail, fax, or FTP, encompass opens up new delivery streams to your advertisers, increases ad revenues, and reduces costs by freeing up staff time from time-consuming administrative tasks. As a comprehensive customer service and content delivery tool, encompass can streamline your operations, allowing you to provide the best service possible to your customers.

For further information, please read our brochure.

For detailed information, technical specifications or product demonstrations, please contact:

Competent Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 909
Wilton, CA 95693
Phone: 916-687-6321
Fax: 916-687-8221
EMail: sales@competent.com


5609 Warwick Pl
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Phone: 240-888-4880
EMail: sales@tools4media.com

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