Archive for category Connecting
4 Tips for Improving Customer Statements
The most opened and read mail consumers receive are transactional in nature. Statements are related directly to where their money is going so it earns a higher spot in the hierarchy of mail box content.
So how can you get the most out of this opportunity?
- Easy to read, easy to understand statements. The number one complaint people have about their bills and statements is that they are difficult to read or hard to locate crucial information. Review your statements – is it clear how much they owe and why? Is it easy to locate a customer service number if they have a question? Have you spotlighted a way for them to contact you or pay their bill online? Think about ways you could utilize highlight color to draw the attention to specific information or perhaps give a better flow to the overall design.
- Mobile applications. So many people are deeply connected to their smartphones, why not offer an opt-in and provide due date reminders or notices when their statement is ready? Think of this as another way to improve your cash flow by receiving payments timely. Mobile payments, provided they are device friendly, can help deepen the relationship with your company.
- Electronic billing or e-statements. Do more than offer a simple pdf. Your e-statement should match the printed statement for a clear, cohesive customer experience. Using your printed statement, offer an opt-in to receive only electronic communications. Include a website where customers can view, pay, review past statements and even view special offers.
- Special offers and marketing messages. Use your statements, both paper and eStatements, to make relevant offers of products/services, tips for savings and other marketing communications. Again, make sure any electronic statement matches your mailed (paper) statement.
In short, make the customers experience as easy and concise as possible. Provide multiple methods of statement presentment and use the real estate on your statement to highlight special communications and offers.
Questions? Feel free to contact a Strahm Client Service Representative at (816) 756-2733.
A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service
Each day, the Postal Service picks up, processes and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity to so many households and businesses. Here’s just ONE day in the life of the United States Postal Service (figures are averages):
215 million — revenue received, in dollars
157 million — dollars paid to postal employees in salaries and benefits
528 million — number of mailpieces processed and delivered
22 million — average number of mailpieces processed each hour
366,000 —average number of mailpieces processed each minute
6,100 — average number of mailpieces processed each second
226.7 million — pieces of First-Class Mail processed and delivered
262.4 million — pieces of Advertising Mail processed and delivered
727,167 —number of packages picked up through Package Pickup
4.3 million — number of miles driven by letter carriers and truck drivers
7,753 — number of letter carriers who deliver mail entirely on foot — The USPS Fleet of Feet
130,592 — number of address changes processed
2,160 — number of addresses added to our delivery network
1 million – number of peple who visit usps.com
809,210 — dollar amount of online stamp and retail sales at usps.com
1.6 million — amount of money spent on postage for Click-N-Ship labels
44.1 million — number of Click-N-Ship labels printed
18,750 — number of passport applications accepted
358,553 — number of money orders issued
1.6 million — dollars spent at Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office lobbies
3.2 million — customers served at more the 31,000 retail locations
0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service
A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500.
Post Office Fun Facts
- Highest – Alma, CO – 10,578 feet above sea level.
- Lowest – Death Valley, CA – 282 feet below sea level.
- Coldest – North Slope of Alaska: Barrow (99723) and Wainwright (99782).
- Hottest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
- Wettest – Mt.Waialeale, near the Kapaa Post Office (96746) in Hawaii.
- Driest – Death Valley, CA (92328).
- Westernmost – 48 contiguous – La Push, WA (98350).
- Westernmost – 50 states – Adak, AK (99546).
- Easternmost – 48 contiguous – Lubec, ME (04652).
- Easternmost – 50 states – Same.
- Southernmost – 48 contiguous – Key West, FL (33040).
- Southernmost – 50 states – Naalehu, HI (96772).
- Northernmost – 48 contiguous – Sumas, WA (98295).
- Northernmost – 50 states – Barrow, AK (99723).
- Most Centered (all 50) – closest to the geographical center of the 50 states – Belle Fourche, SD.
- Most Centered (48) – closest to geographical center of the 48 contiguous states – Lebanon, KS.
- Oldest in same building – Hinsdale, NH, since 1816.
- 2nd oldest – Castine, ME, since 1833.
- Largest – James A. Farley Post Office, New York, NY – 93,000 square feet.
- Smallest – Ochopee Main Post Office, Ochopee, FL – 61.3 square feet.
- Most Extraordinary – Peach Springs, AZ, Post Office has walk-in freezers for food destined for delivery to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by mule train.
- Most Subterranean – Stamp Fulfillment Services, located in Kansas City, MO, is located in a limestone cave 150 feet underground. It is the Postal Service’s only facility located in an underground environment. The consistent, year-round temperatures and humidity levels in the caves allow the stamps to be maintained in mint-quality condition. The underground facility also keeps the inventory and employees safe from snow, flooding, winds and tornadic activity common in the Midwest.
- Most Needing a Bridge – the Point Roberts, WA, Post Office can be reached by car only by driving through British Columbia, Canada. Only a boat or float plane can travel directly there.
USPS Letters to Santa program (+ some pertinent mailing dates)
Did you know that USPS has an official Letters to Santa program? The program is on a voluntary basis decided at a local level by each Post Office. For 101 years, the Postal Service has been helping make children’s holiday wishes come true.
In 1912 Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized postal employees and citizens to respond to letters. The program is known as Letters to Santa except in New York City where they operate an “Operation Santa” program.
Hundreds of thousands of children of all ages send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska”. Unless these letters contain a complete Alaska address, they remain in the area in which they were mailed. Postal “elves” go through the letters and separate those that express serious need.
Here’s how it works: A person wishing to adopt a letter can go to a Post Office, present valid photo identification, and select one or more letters to take with them and sign the form. The child’s address on the envelope will have been blocked out and the letter assigned a number.
After the individual fulfills the child’s wishes with a gift or special message, he or she returns the letter and gift to the same Post Office and pays the postage. A postal employee will match the number on the letter with the child’s address, apply a label to it and put the package into the mail stream.
It’s not too late to make a child’s wishes come true this season! For estimated delivery by December 24th (this applies to all your outgoing mail not just the Letters to Santa program):
First Class Mail – by Friday, December 20th
Priority Mail – by Saturday, December 21st
Priority Mail Express – by Monday, December 23rd
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. If you’re reusing a box, cover up or black out any old labels and markings.
Place cushioning around your items. Choose packing peanuts, bubble wrap or even newspaper. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding. Add more cushioning material if you hear things moving around.
Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with 2″ wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape. Do not use cord, string, or twine because it gets caught in mail processing equipment.
The weight of your package cannot exceed 70 lbs. If you’re planning to use Priority Mail Express™ or Priority Mail® services for faster delivery, length plus girth (distance around the thickest part of the package) can’t exceed 108″. When you use Standard Post™, available at retail Post Office locations, the total can’t be more than 130″.
Happy Holidays from your friends at Strahm Automation!
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly – Falalalalalalalala
We mailed our annual holiday cards this week and followed up with an email. We like to take a moment to show our appreciation to all of our customers and friends for their business over the past year.
Keep your eyes out for these cards and emails; we’ve included a special QR code and pURL you can use to order a (free!!) personalized 3D Cube or Accordion picture display perfect for your desk or home.
Not sure what to get your friends/family – or even a treat for yourself – these personalized picture displays make a great gift!
Happy Holidays to each and every one of you.
IMb Deadline January 2014
Along with preparing the mail and paperwork in a specific way, the USPS raised the bar a few years ago when they implemented Move Update rules. And they continue to drive change today.
The USPS decided in January 2013 that in order to continue receiving automation discounts on your outgoing mail, bulk mailers must adopt the Intelligent Mail barcode, or IMb. Ask your mail consolidator if they are currently using Intelligent Mail barcode, or what their plan is to have their process compliant by January 26, 2014. (At Strahm we use IMb on all mailings.)
If you plan to implement IMb on your own, make sure you are not caught off guard by the looming deadline. Realize that there is much more involved than buying the complex software required – expect to spend some time getting set up correctly.
These new requirements will provide tracking of your mail as it moves through the mailstream. This can be quite a benefit to marketers; providing even more data for Return on Investment from a mailing.
If your mail is not IMb compliant, you can still mail at the higher, non-automated postage rate. But be forewarned that in the very near future it may become a requirement that you are IMb compliant to receive any bulk mail discount.
Another option is to outsource your mail (either presort only or printing and mailing) to an outside vendor. If you are already outsourcing, make sure your vendor is IMb ready! Ask the question and then ask yourself “Do I want to work with a vendor who did not take the time and steps necessary to protect my postage discounts?”
If you have questions about Intelligent Mail barcodes, feel free to contact one of our Customer Service Representatives today. (816) 756-2733 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have You Toured Your Vendors Facility?
Yesterday I took a group of people on a tour of our facility. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve lead a tour here, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. And every time I have a person or group of people come through, they’ve told me they have come away with beneficial knowledge and new ideas.
Whenever I visit a vendor, and I hope whenever a client or prospect visits us, these are a few of the things that I would expect of the experience.
- Is your sales rep present? Better yet, is he or she leading the tour?
- Meet your Customer Service Representative. In most cases, it will be the CSR that handles your day-to-day business and not the sales rep.
- If your sales rep (and perhaps your CSR as well) is leading the tour, what is the sense of relationship you feel between sales and the production team? Do they seem friendly and collaborative towards each other?
- Get an introduction to the department managers or team leaders in each step of production. Personally, I like my clients to have a face to associate with each department (in our case, data processing, quality control, laser imaging, lettershop, presort and transportation).
- Whenever possible, manage an introduction to someone “at the top”. I like to make sure my tour attendees get to meet the president of our company.
- Look at equipment in each and every department. Is it well maintained? Is it apparent that the company keeps up-to-date in new technology and machinery?
- Observe the plant condition. Is it clean and well organized? Does work seem to flow through the plant in a common sense manner?
- Ask if any of your work would be outsourced to a subcontractor or whether your vendor has all the equipment, personnel and capacity to complete your jobs in house.
- And last but most importantly – listen, ask questions and learn something new. I have yet to lead a customer through our facility and not hear them talk about something vital they’ve learned or new ideas they plan to take back to their own companies.
When was the last time you toured the facilities of your vendor or vendors? What did you take away from the experience? Did you leave the plant feeling positive in your decision to use this particular company?
Lesson: Ask for a tour, build lasting relationships with the folks producing your jobs, get fresh ideas and have fun!
This video takes you on a little journey around Strahm Automation and Mailing!