Lesson 1: How to Avoid Undeliverable Mail
October 25, 2019
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Strategies for eliminating the dreaded yellow sticker
Do you send critical information through your mail?
Do you rely on the mail to get paid?
Are you in charge of the mail, finances, compliance at your business?
If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, you should care about Undelivered Mail. According to the USPS, about 4 percent of mail was not delivered to recipients in 2016. That comes out to 5.9 billion pieces of mail, including 1.4 billion pieces of First-Class Mail and 4.3 billion pieces of USPS Marketing Mail.
That is a lot of unhappy customers, lost postage costs, and late payments. However, the actual cost of a mail piece that doesn’t get delivered goes well beyond postage and related costs. It includes everything from the costs of delayed remittances or follow up customer contacts and lost sales or marketing opportunities to reduced cash flow and customer dissatisfaction.
However, you can still be the hero of this story and eliminate the bulk of your Undelivered Mail with different tools and workflows. We’ve outlined below four steps you can take to improve your data quality and get rid of that dreaded yellow sticker.
Step 1: Assess your data.
We are living in an age of data, and your business is probably just grappling with the sheer volume of information you are collecting from customers. This is the time to start looking at the quality of your data and measuring how poor data quality might be impacting your business.
Once you understand how much data quality is affecting the bottom line of your company, the more comfortable and confident you will be expending resources to improve data quality. Look at your customer data workflow, how and where data is entered, where the risks or opportunities for errors are. Then look at what you are using to validate or check your data. Are there any databases or technology that you’re using to ensure that your customer data is complete, compliant, and correct?
Step 2: Ensure data entry is correct.
Many data errors come from entering incorrect information into the system at the start. These can be mistakes from human error, mistyping, or just customers providing wrong information. Identifying these mistakes right from the beginning will save you headaches later on. Look at using address correction tools, or auto-fills at the point of data entry. This can fill in an incomplete address, flag a bad email or address.
Step 3: Use a CASS address verification tool
The USPS maintains a database of up-to-date addresses that is available to all mailers that would like to evaluate the quality of their addresses. CASS, which is short for Coding Accuracy Support System, will validate and improve the accuracy of your addresses.
- City and street name misspellings
- Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
- Zip code and Zip + 4
CASS not only helps to eliminate incorrect addresses that delay invoice payments, or waste money on incorrect marketing mail, it also qualifies businesses for many types of postal discounts.
Businesses who use CASS system can become CASS certified when they confirm and correct ZIP+4 codes and carrier route information against USPS address and city/state fields. This can immediately save money on postage and potentially thousands of dollars on returned mail.
Step 4: Update your addresses against NCOA
While CASS checks that addresses are complete and entered correctly, it does not check for people who have moved. With over 40 million Americans changing addresses annually, outdated address information happens all the time and leads to Undelivered Mail.
Checking your database against NCOA, National Change of Address, ensures that any change of addresses is noted and updated.
By following these four steps and best practices, you can get your data up to the 3 Cs of address quality. This doesn't just help your business get postage discounts it also helps reduce the costs of undelivered mail such as delayed invoices, lost sales and marketing opportunities, reduced cash flow and customer dissatisfaction.
The 3 Cs of Address Quality
- Complete: all the required elements of the address are present
- Correct: The addresses are correct
- Current: the addresses reflect the recipient’s most recent address.
To learn more about data quality tools and workflows speak to your Neopost representative 877.888.0677. We can offer a free data quality audit and customized workflow recommendations for your business and use case. Get in touch today!