This article appeared in the May 2020 issue of NPOA Magazine.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all aspects of life have been fundamentally changed around the globe. Individuals and businesses are trying to navigate uncharted territory left in the wake of the virus. As we all attempt to grapple with these new unknowns, we can take solace in facets of life that have remained constant. Especially for those of us in the mailing and printing industry, the mail remains a source of continuity.
In this article we will offer a closer look at the essential nature of mail, what it means for the industry, and how we can plan to move forward amidst the uncertainty and stress.
The Essential Nature of Mail
So, what exactly is meant by essential, and how does the mail fit into this designation? Simply put, essential refers to goods and information that must continue to be delivered. As the USPS® has stated in their official COVID-19 response,
“The Postal Service delivers much needed medications and Social Security checks, and we are the leading delivery service for online purchases. The Postal Service is an essential service for purposes of compliance with state or municipality shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions.”
In many ways, there has never been a more critical time for the mail. As much of the nation self-isolates, it relies on the mail to deliver critical communications, such as the forthcoming federal stimulus checks and vote by mail ballots. But the USPS cannot do this alone – they rely on the surrounding industry ecosystem to keep the mail running.
Effect on the Industry
Within the mailing and printing industry, everything is connected. The USPS relies on the surrounding industry ecosystem to ensure the success of its operations. This ecosystem includes not just the Mail Service Providers, but also software providers and transportation workers. MTAC (Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee) is a great reflection of all facets of the industry coming together.
It is a partnership that has existed for over fifty years, which continues to provide essential guidance and technical advice to the USPS. However, while the industry is designated essential, that does not mean the rest of the ecosystem is not without difficulty. Being deemed essential comes with its own set of unique challenges, and many print shops are having to find innovate ways to cope with the new reality. Many mailers are having to re-plan work on shorter turn times with less staff. Additionally, the mailing software utilized needs to be able to effectively enable mailers to deliver more jobs in less time. Accuracy and efficiency are key.
The Path Forward
As we navigate this crisis together, it is important to be taking actionable steps to help maintain the essential nature of our industry long-term. Core industry tenants remain the same – reduce UAA by ensuring addresses are Complete, Correct, and Current (the three C’s of address quality), and making the most of the mail moment – but they’ve taken on heightened meaning over the past few weeks. The criticality of mail has never been more apparent, and for many Americans the mail is their only lifeline to the outside world. Here are some areas mailers can evaluate to help ensure the effectiveness of their overall operations now and for the future:
- Take time to create or update your strategies to leverage innovative solutions such as Informed Delivery® and Informed Visibility®. Look for software that makes it easy to leverage these proven tools from the USPS.
- Enhance address quality. What steps are you currently taking to fight against UAA mail and are you revisiting the latest best practices in address quality solution that can leverage USPS and industry provided data?
- Evaluate your workflow. Where is there room for improvement or enhanced automation? You may need to move quickly to respond to market demands once the COVID-19 situation subsides and the economy comes roaring back.
- Take stock of your resources – while some companies have had to downsize, the mail still needs to be delivered. Consider ways in which you can cross train your employees to perform multiple tasks or invest in further product training or perhaps USPS certifications such as Mail Piece Design Professional.
A Trusted Industry Leader
At BCC Software, we understand the essential nature of mail. We partner with mail service providers of all sizes to help ensure their operations are running with the widest array of software and data services solutions in the industry. With engineers, product managers, and executive members participating in strategic industry venues such as MTAC, we are active industry advocates for our customers, and our Industry Corner podcast keeps listeners up to date with the latest industry news.