When it comes to e-delivery, sometimes, I think the Postal Service is its own worst enemy. I recently met with a friend who is a large-volume mail processor. He is experiencing delivery delays and uncooperative (inflexible) postal acceptance people.
In our part of Connecticut, in-state mail dropped Saturday morning used to be delivered on Monday. Now, letters are arriving on Thursday. Why? In the interest of cost cutting and facility rationalization, the United States Postal Service (USPS) closed a local processing center and now ships the mail out of state for processing. Theoretically, this should have no impact on service levels, but it does.
Similarly, my friend had a batch of mail rejected by the acceptance unit, and rather than working with him to accept the mail as is, he had to take the entire batch back, reprocess the mail and take it back to the processing center. I certainly only heard his side of the story, but there has to be a more customer-friendly way to do business.
Three factors that will drive electronic delivery adoption are: price of postage, delivery performance and population demographics. The Postal Service cannot change demographics, but they can slow down the decline of paper mail by providing their historical excellent service at a reasonable price. It’s up to postal management and their employees to decide where to place their priorities.
In 2011, Canadian e-delivery adoption spiked when the postal workers started their rotating strikes and were subsequently locked out by Canada Post’s management. In the US, the change might be more gradual, but when the USPS lowers delivery standards, and then dramatically misses their own goals, it is unhealthy for the Postal Service, their customers (mailers) and their customer’s customers (the recipients).
Delays in receiving important correspondence and notices can be costly and inconvenient. Missed appointments, missed sales events, late fees, etc. We are so used to getting excellent service from the USPS that slower service will force us to search for alternatives, like e-delivery and e-billing.
If we look at it from a business’s standpoint, an invoice delayed by three days can have a dramatic negative impact on cash flow. Until payment is received, the sale is a receivable and the cash cannot be applied or used for useful purposes.
The Postal Service does a fantastic job overall and is certainly facing its challenges with declining First-Class Mail volumes and high fixed costs. However, unless the USPS can maintain delivery standards, consumers will be more inclined to switch to e-delivery, and businesses will be more motived than ever to incentivize their customers to make the switch.
Richard Rosen is the chief executive officer of The RH Rosen Group, a firm that provides solutions to help businesses improve processes and customer communications with the intent to create real, recurring benefits in: cost reduction, electronic payment, shipment tracking and printing/mailing. Contact him at RichR@RHRosenGroup.com or visit www.rhrosengroup.com.