Page 1


NPF? Here’s what to see! Page 30

Optical Character Recognition — your mail gets to where it should, when it should. Page 18


Protect yourself — and your employees — from workplace violence. Page 22



discounts if quality control is ignored. Don’t risk it. page 14

Mailing systems technology

Volume 24 Issue 2

March-aprIl 2011

Features 14

Return to Sender A business or organization with consistently incorrect addresses penalizes itself. With USPS discounts at risk, quality control of address management makes a lot of sense. By Elizabeth Lombard



It’s Universal Optical Character Recognition: A Backbone for Postal and Mail Sorting Applications By Kaz Jaszczak


Going Postal Is No Laughing Matter Since the 1970s, incidents of workplace violence have tripled. Don’t wait until you have to figure out what to do in a crisis. By Dave Flora

18 Departments




Real-Life Management Credibility – Our Passport to Respect and Achievement



It’s about Quality... and Quantity


Software Byte Everything IMBC


Start-the-Clock Measurement


Reality Check Postmaster Donahoe — Generous Listening

3C + IMb = ROI


Editor’s Note

Pushing the Envelope Right-sizing the USPS

The Trenches Direct Mail vs Email — Which Should You Choose?


Ship It Negotiate, Optimize, Validate

[ PLUS ] 4


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editor’s note

with Amanda Armendariz

Mailing systems technology PUBLISHER Marll Thiede


It’s about Quality… and Quantity This issue’s theme of quality control comes at an appropriate time. Every day, we read articles and commentary about how, due to budget cuts or other factors, organizations are forced to make do with less. Making do with less often means making do with fewer employees, which means that there are more chances for quality to suffer. We hope that you’re able to take away some practical insight from our features on quality control and apply them to your organization’s mail operation. Despite the negative press mail often receives, it’s still a vital part of our lives and businesses. We need to ensure that our operations are running as smoothly as possible. And, when speaking of quality, its counterpart quantity comes to mind. We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s not about quantity; it’s about quality.” Well, when it comes to mail, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true. It’s about quality and quantity. In her Pushing the Envelope column on page 25, Kate Muth gives an interesting analysis regarding mail volumes in the first part of 2011. Some types of mail (such as Standard) are up, some (such as First Class) are down, and one thing is clear — we are never going to see the mail volumes that characterized years past, but that doesn’t mean the Postal Service is doomed. There’s still a healthy amount of mail coursing through our nation’s postal system, and if the USPS can find a way to capitalize on digital communications in addition to print, we have a great chance of survival. Quality and quantity — there’s the winning combination. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

Amanda Armendariz

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kevin Conti, Dave Flora Wes Friesen, Kaz Jaszczak, Jim LeRose Christopher Lien, Elizabeth Lombard, Kate Muth Mike Porter, David Robinson, Wanda Senne


Rachel Spahr

ADVERTISING 608-241-8777 Ken Waddell


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Volume 24, Issue 2 Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098; or call 608-241-8777; fax 608-241-8666; e-mail or subscribe online at For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider. Scoop Reprint Source 800.767.3263 ext. 144 All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2011 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. Mailing Systems Technology (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 24, Issue 2] is published seven times per year, including the annual resource guide, by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

Real Life Management Credibility – Our Passport to Respect and Achievement Webster’s dictionary defines credibility as “the quality or power of inspiring belief.” Developing our credibility is a necessary ingredient to earn respect and pave the way for greater achievement for ourselves and our teams. Greater credibility leads to greater influence and management effectiveness and aids our efforts to justify resources and find support for our initiatives. Credibility is built upon twin pillars: character and competence. Both character and competence are important — and go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Laurel and Hardy (imagine one of those without the other!). Ten Building Blocks for Developing Credibility #1

“Walk the Talk” Multiple surveys have shown that people are looking for leaders with integrity and trustworthiness — those that live out strong personal ethics and always strive to do the right things. Alan Simpson says, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters!” How true!

#2 “Be a Straight Shooter” The Bible speaks of “speaking the

truth in love.” Being candid AND dignifying leads to people trusting what we say. Always telling the truth is important — one lie can sink us. Wes Fessler says, “Credibility is like glass. It is strong until it is broken, and then it is almost impossible to repair.”

#3 “Beat the Grapevine” It is better to over-communicate than

to under-communicate. When we fail to communicate thoroughly a vacuum is created — and that hole gets filled with the grapevine (rumor mill), which is invariably negative and often wrong.

#4 “Mess up? Fess up!” We are all human and make mistakes.

Credible people don’t lie or hide from their blunders. Brian Koslow says it well: “The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have.”



#5 “No Excuses — Make It Happen” Michael Jordan said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Credible people are those that make it happen. Earn the reputation as a doer, not a talker. Follow the principle of “under promising and over delivering.” Look for creative and innovative ways to get the right things done, and develop positive relationships with those than can help you get results. #6

“Get Certified” Earning professional certifications is one of the most valuable means to develop greater competence and earn credibility with others. The Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA) has multiple certifications to consider pursuing: Mailpiece Design Consultant (MDC), Certified Mail & Distribution Systems Manager (CMDSM) and Certified Mail & Distribution Systems Supplier (CMDSS). If interested, go to for details. USPS also has a couple of worthwhile certifications: Executive Mail Center Management (EMCM) and Mailpiece Design Professional (MDP). Refer to for details.

#7 “Become a SME (Subject Matter Expert)” Developing your

personal expertise and willingly sharing it with others will earn you credibility. You can further develop your expertise by earning professional certifications, being active in trade associations like MSMA and your local Postal Customer Council, thoroughly reading trade publications like Mailing Systems Technology, attending

tours, promotional team brochures, mail related service guides and newsletters and through our local PCC and MSMA chapters. Being a person of credibility is very rewarding — for you and your team. Good luck to you on your journey! a

With Wes Friesen

conferences like MailCom and National Postal Forum and developing your own personal network of peers and industry leaders.

Wes Friesen, CMDSM, EMCM, MQC, ICP, CCM,CMA, CM, CFM, APP, PHR is the Manager of Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon that serves over 820,000 customers. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like National Postal Forum, MailCom, CS Week and others. He manages the bill presentment and payment processing teams with the able assistance of supervisors Eric Houger, Tom Laszlo, Gil Rodriguez and Rick VanBeek. Wes can be contacted at


“Develop a High Performance Team” I have shared ways to build High Performance Teams in prior columns. One extensive research project boils down developing High Performance Teams into three keys: 1) Develop a sense of Fairness 2) Develop a sense of Achievement 3) Develop a sense of Camaraderie within the team


“Be a Fred” In a recent column I talked about the exceptional customer service provided by Fred the postal carrier. Going the extra mile and providing exceptional customer service will earn you and your team lasting credibility and success. Napoleon Hill was right when he said, “One of the most important principles of success is developing the habit of going the extra mile.”

#10 “Promote Your Team’s Accomplishments” We want to be known as servant leaders that focus the spotlight on our team’s achievements. When leaders sincerely lift up our teams in the eyes of others, we ourselves are elevated in the minds of our teams and outsiders. We can promote our team’s accomplishments through internal company communication channels (e.g. intranet; company newsletter articles), open houses and a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Software Byte 3C + IMb = ROI In today’s challenging economy, every business seems to be focused on the bottom line. Acronyms such as EBITDA (earnings before interest depreciation and amortization), CAGR (cumulative average growth rate) and ROI (return on investment) are often used as measurement tools to determine success. What they do not reveal, though, is the formula for achieving that success.

Delivery Point Validation (DPV), LACSLink (Locatable Address Conversion System) and the new SuiteLink (secondary address assignment for business addresses) provides a foundation of trusted data to ensure the address is correct. SuiteLink is currently available as an option today, but will be required by all mailers August 1, 2011.

Obtaining the maximum return on investment for mail in today’s challenging economy rests on a combination of best practices in address quality and effective mail preparation and delivery. Timely, predictable and ultimate delivery of the mail is the goal and also the most effective way to ensure a viable future for the USPS. To that end, a new formula for success can be expressed as 3C + IMb = ROI.

The final C in our 3C is keeping the address current. There are multiple options today that include pre-mailing and post-mailing solutions. Services such as NCOALink (National Change of Address) and FASTforward are required to be done at least 95 days prior to the mailing to retain postage work-share discounts. Post-mailing solutions, such as ACS and endorsements are also available when combined with a pre-mailing method for ongoing Move Update compliance. With approximately 43 million change-of-addresses being filed with the USPS each year (that’s roughly 7,000 per hour!), it is essential for mailers to comply with Move Update requirements in order to ensure ultimate delivery of their mailpieces.

An address that is complete, correct and current is the 3C component for our formula. It implies that mailers are leveraging the latest in CASS-certified software to ensure all required elements of the address are present. Leveraging enhanced technology such as

With Christopher Lien

The 3C approach to address quality is well documented in numerous white papers and discussed with regularity at MTAC, NPF and other venues. However, it is not just a principle for application in maintaining lists of addresses, it is also applicable anywhere data is touched, stored or moved within an enterprise. Cleansing data before it enters the data warehouse is just as essential as cleansing it before it is rendered on a mailpiece. Today’s expanded software solutions offer address quality solutions at multiple touch points, on numerous platforms, and in a variety of implementation methodologies. The IMb component of the equation is, of course, in reference to the Intelligent Mail barcode. Here is where the tangible impact of 3C is demonstrated. An address that has followed the 3C approach is now eligible for many postage discounts. IMb also presents an important foundation for visibility, accountability and predictability when used in conjunction with Confirm for piece tracking and ACS for Address Change Service.

The USPS recently announced that it will be extending the retirement of the Postnet barcode beyond the May 2011 date. While this may initially be perceived as a reprieve from the required Intelligent Mail barcode use, mailers should not slow down or stop implementing support for this important initiative. The USPS has been clear that IMb is important for its performance measurement initiatives; however, the IMb should not be considered a USPS-only barcode. Mailers need to continue taking ownership of the IMb and make it part of their overall formula for success. In the end, the efficacy of the mailing will likely come down to ROI. By leveraging best practices in address quality using a 3C approach coupled with the visibility and predictability of an IMbenabled mailpiece, mailers stand the best chance to see that number reach its maximum potential. a Christopher Lien is President of BCC Software, Inc., a BĂ–WE BELL + HOWELL Company. a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Everything IMBC

With Kevin Conti & David Robinson

Start-the-Clock Measurement Late last year, the USPS submitted a request to the Postal Regulatory Commission for temporary waivers to period reporting of service performance measurement. According to the USPS, the challenge in the reporting is the lack of a consistent start-the-clock measurement. While mailers are working diligently to comply with all aspects of full-service IMb compliance, the complexities of the requirements and the variances in mailing processes are leading to inconsistencies in start-the-clock information. As a result, the USPS has expressed its desire to work with mailers to determine a more reliable means of establishing the first scan, or start-the-clock point. The focus of this article will be the recent changes within the USPS and the impact that these changes are having on the IMb initiatives such as start-the-clock. Mr. Pat Donahoe, the newly appointed Postmaster General is establishing his presence as the leader of the Postal Service. With this, there is a renewed (some might say new) set of operating principles for the USPS, which includes an active customer outreach on IMb issues. Senior members of the USPS’ management team are engaged in speaking with mailers individually and via various mailing industry associations. The message is consistent in that the USPS is very interested in processes and procedures that work for the Postal Service and for mailers.

Assessing the Outreach Let’s review recent actions from the USPS to assess its outreach: Planned ACS Charges for stale addresses submitted beyond the 95 day Move Update compliance requirement under full-service “free” ACS – Delayed with date to be determined (TBD) Planned Discount disqualifiers for full-service IMb submissions that failed certain compliance requirements – Delayed with the date TBD Planned POSTNET barcode retirement effective May, 2011 – Delayed with the date TBD (although it’s believed to be at least until the end of 2011)



With these changes as well as other signs, the USPS is genuinely interested in working with mailers for a smoother transition to the IMb. Without question, the USPS sees significant value with the adoption of the IMb in terms of reducing its operating cost as well as providing for the measurement system to be used for service performance and reporting. The added visibility into its mail processing allows a real-time report card on every aspect of the mail processing as well as the quality of the mail received from mailers. Ultimately, this also has tremendous value for mailers in being able to determine, with consistency, the in-home date for their mailings. Studies have shown that there is great value in the predictability of mail delivery. With growing competition with the Internet as a communications medium, using mail in a multi-medium marketing campaign is likely the wisest way forward but will require predictability in the delivery cycle. The return on investment (ROI) in using Direct Mail is hard to argue with and since we know we have to follow the money, mail will be a viable communications vehicle for many years to come. In fact, progressive marketing organizations are using or will use critical mail tracking events as triggers in a complete multi-channel customer engagement process (i.e. email notice re-enforcing mail communication delivery). The USPS will move forward with the IMb initiative, but will slow down a bit to ensure that the industry can implement at a lower cost. With the current financial incentives, several hundred mailers have already embarked on the IMb conversion and with the USPS’ effort to help simplify the process, hundreds more will surely follow. As the USPS continues to orient the IMb program to accommodate USPS and mailers needs, mailers may consider this additional time to thoroughly plan and implement the IMb in a way that maximizes return on their investment. a Kevin Conti is Director of Mailing Solutions at Pitney Bowes Software. David Robinson is currently the Director of Address Quality for Pitney Bowes.

The Trenches

With Mike Porter

Direct Mail vs Email – Which Should You Choose? Even though some of the younger crowd may look upon “snail mail” as a quaint practice that is maintained only for the convenience of the elderly (you know, all of us over-40 people), it is clear that the medium still serves a useful purpose. If email alone was bringing in an overwhelming amount of business compared to direct mail, then you can be sure that the budgets for printing and mailing would dry up in a hurry.

at home is not free for consumers. They must pay an ISP for the privilege. In tough financial times, they may have to cut back on the luxury of broadband connectivity, making the delivery of feature-rich email marketing messages more challenging. And the popularity of hand-held Internet devices has forced marketers to find a way to communicate compelling messages on a screen that may be less than four square inches.

There are valid arguments for both of these marketing communication methods. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and are effective in different ways. For that reason, the best approach is probably one that has both physical and electronic mail delivery components.

On the other hand, the USPS delivers to every household in the country, six days a week, at no charge to the recipient. No squinting required.

I’m confident that we will continue to send direct mail as long as the return on investment remains within a reasonable range. But that doesn’t mean that we should be sending the same type of mail that we did in 1985. Today’s access to better data, better composition engines and digital printers makes it possible to improve greatly upon “spray and pray.” Here are a few thoughts you might bring up the next time you feel like your profession is being compared to the Pony Express or carrier pigeons.

DELIVERABILITY Using tools such as NCOALink, FastForward and ACS, mailers can make sure they are using current addresses and avoid generating mail that won’t get delivered at all. Once a piece of mail with a valid address enters the US Mail system, it’s probably going to get delivered. Email communications have to pass through filters. Corporations, consumers and Internet service providers all attempt to keep unsolicited email messages from being delivered. Send too many messages that are reported as spam, and an ISP can block all your emails from reaching any of their customers. Even if the messages don’t get filtered out, there is a chance they won’t be delivered to the recipient. According to Mail Chimp, the email marketing company, over 30% of email addresses change every year. Unlike the USPS, there is no centralized forwarding or change of address notification mechanism for email.

ACCESSIBILITY A large percentage of US adults have Internet access and check their email on a regular basis. The last figure I saw reported 70% Internet accessibility at either home or work. But Internet access



For Best Results, Use Both It is clear that the best path to successful marketing is to take advantage of the strengths of each communication channel. Marketers can capitalize on short-term impulse buyers and also on long-term behavior, and they can provide the variety of buying experiences that physical and electronic presentment can enable. Buyers can be driven to the Internet by direct mail and vice versa. Direct mail can continue to be a viable marketing channel in the future. To make sure it does, those of us in the business of producing and distributing documents should use all the tools available to selectively compose and target the messages. Make mail even better by taking steps to make sure the right pieces get delivered to the right people, at the right time. a

Additional Talking Points Shelf Life — Once emails scroll off the screen,

the chances of them being opened are practically nil. Direct mail has been known to generate long-term responses — sometimes weeks after delivery.

Measurement — Click-through rates are the

holy grail of digital communications. But PURLs, QR codes and offer codes on printed documents can link the physical world to the digital and provide marketers with valuable data about campaign effectiveness.

Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants, a consulting firm that helps companies get the most out of their document operations. He welcomes your comments and questions. Visit or email Mike directly at

Ship It

With Jim LeRose

Negotiate, Optimize, Validate Do you analyze new methods for lowering shipping costs once in a blue moon? As described in Wikipedia, a blue moon is an extra full moon that occurs every two or three years. If your transportation cost reduction strategy is stuck in a similar cycle, consider this: Your rates may have spiraled 20-30% while you weren’t paying attention. That’s a rate of increase that handily surpassed inflation and is probably nowhere near the small, if any, increase you passed on to your customers. Absorbing higher expenses without increasing your customers’ cost is a recipe for disaster. If you’re shrewd, lowering transportation costs is ongoing. But for many, it’s an outright inconvenience. The former will pay a much lower price to ship than the latter. But lowering transportation costs doesn’t have to be difficult. There are three main steps you should follow: Negotiate, Optimize and Validate.

1 - Negotiate: Many prefer to do this themselves, while others hire a professional. Much has been written on the need to use the services of a pro to navigate new complex carrier agreements, and the noticeable difference in savings is clearly documented. UPS and FedEx are both making it difficult for their customers to use third-party negotiation services, which should be a clear sign that they work. In my experience, most people I meet think they have the best rates but don’t benchmark them. They usually compare the new rates offered by the carrier to the old ones, and that’s precisely what the carrier wants. I always ask the same question when someone tells me they have the best deal: How do you know for sure if you don’t compare to what other businesses are paying? While that may take you out of your comfort zone, it’s an important question to ask if you are serious about saving money. If, however, you want to brave this task, relinquish the expert and forego the strategy I’m advocating in this article, make sure you compare your rates to others and get several proposals from more than one carrier. Do it frequently, not just when the existing contract is up. There is a myth out there that you have to wait until the current agreement is up before negotiating a new one. It’s not true.

myriad of choices. Check out the USPS, UPS and FedEx service guides at, and, and you’ll see what I mean.

Optimization Requires Automation Start by searching online for the following:

1. Optimize transportation spend 2. Transportation Management Solutions 3. Lower shipping costs If you are serious, find a company that meets your needs, then make the investment. 3 – Validation: Carrier invoices are notoriously incorrect. What’s the point of negotiating your best rate and optimizing your transportation spend if you don’t check every transaction for accuracy? This is another area that requires automation. It’s simply not costeffective to do this manually. Find a company that ties these three services together today and don’t take cost-saving steps once in a blue moon. Take back control of your transportation spend, now. I hope this information helps your company ship better and save money! a Jim LeRose, “The Freight Spend Assassin,” is Principal of Agile NYC Metro, President of (a shippers savings club) and has been a transportation industry consultant for 25 years. His clients have saved millions on transportation costs. Contact, or 888-214-1763.

2 – Optimize: Just because you got the best rates doesn’t mean you are saving the most money! Want to squeeze every ounce of savings? Then you need to automate rate and service selection and take steps to ensure employee compliance. This simply can’t be done the same way as it was during the last century. There are dozens of services that can be utilized to get a package delivered to meet delivery objectives, not just Air or Ground, Red or Blue and there’s no way for humans to accurately select from the a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Return to Sender A business or organization with consistently incorrect addresses penalizes itself. With USPS discounts at risk, quality control of address management makes a lot of sense. By Elizabeth Lombard

The last time a mailpiece you sent showed up days later marked “Return to Sender,” your initial thought was probably that the customer would not be happy with your service. Critical as customer satisfaction is to a successful business, you can add the reality of lost revenue to your thoughts as well. A business or organization with consistently incorrect addresses — and no system in place to correct them — or one that does not comply with other USPS addressing regulations, penalizes itself. That is, the business or organization essentially disqualifies itself from taking advantage of USPS discounts, subjecting themselves to higher postage expenditures. Traditionally, a returned mailpiece may have registered only on the annoyance scale as having to mail the item twice. But today’s USPS addressing regulations move the issue from the weight scale to the balance sheet. Based on compliance, or lack thereof, business owners can come up in the red or black. Postal discounts or incentives can turn saved postage dollars into found revenue. Quality control of address management — and compliance to USPS standards — can, indeed, make a lot of sense. Noted here are a number of USPS regulations with which commercial mailers must comply or potentially lose their postal discounts.

Compliance through CASS-Certified Solutions Some mailers choose to prepare commercial mailings at nonautomation prices. In essence, they are sorting and preparing 14


the mailing without the use of addressing software. While this might be a fairly easy process for local mailings, mailers must still comply with the requirement that states that a certified process must be used within 12 months before mailing to ensure accuracy of five-digit ZIP Codes. Approved methods include, but are not limited to, Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)-certified address matching software for computerized lists, and for manually maintained lists or small computerized lists, options include surveys of addressees on the mailer’s address list inquiring about the accuracy of ZIP Code information, USPS mailing list services or that of an authorized service provider, CASS-certified software or the USPS website (www. The mailer’s signature on the postage statement certifies that this standard has been met. As it applies to automation-price mailings, the physical portion, e.g., street, city, state, ZIP of the addresses must match using a CASS/MASS-certified process within 180 days before mailing date (90 days for carrier route mailings). Using CASS-certified software to meet this regulation is efficient. Further, most CASScertified software provides options or suggestions for addresses that couldn’t be coded automatically. In doing so, the opportunity to increase the number of qualifying mailpieces for the mailing is maximized! Addresses that can’t be postal-coded and assigned a delivery point routing barcode do not qualify for automation prices. As it applies to most CASS-certified software, an ad-

ditional cost-saving feature is the duplicate-detection feature. Based on mailer-specified criteria, duplicate names and/or addresses can be identified and removed from the mailing list, thus reducing redundancy, wasted postage and materials.

Compliance through Move Update Solutions Commercial First-Class Mail and Standard Mail mailers must also comply with the Move Update regulation, which states that addresses on all pieces must be updated within 95 days prior to the mailing date through a USPS-approved address update method. These include Address Change Service (ACS), an NCOALink, the FASTforward program or an appropriate ancillary service endorsement such as Address, Change or Return Service Requested. For ACS and ancillary endorsements, it isn’t just that a mailer use the Service or endorsement on their outbound mailpieces, but also that they make the appropriate updates to their database upon receipt of address change notifications. The Postal Service also recommends that mailers retain address correction records for up to two years.

1 Address verification & presorting 2

Change-of-address processing

3 Duplicate removal

Mailers that fail the Move Update standard must pay seven cents per assessed mailpiece in the mailing. Furthermore, according to the USPS Move Update Advisement Policy (Nov. 2010), Standard Mail and First-Class Mail mailings that have not performed a Move Update method are not eligible for the presorted (including automation, non-automation and carrier route) prices, and must be mailed at a price that does not require Move Update, e.g. the First-Class Mail single-piece price.


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While compliance to the Move Update standard is critical, savvy mailers must realize that regardless of the Move Update standard, employing solutions that maximize the accuracy of both the physical portion of the address, as well as the “recipient” who resides at that address, simply makes good business sense. In fact, one study indicated that on average, the monthly rate of deterioration of address currency, due to family and individual moves alone, is approximately 1.2% and in six months, about 7.2% of addresses in address files have the potential to be inaccurate. And while undeliverable as addressed mail is very costly to the USPS because pieces must be forwarded, returned or discarded, UAA mail is very costly to mailers as well. It has been said that poor quality customer data costs US businesses $611 billion a year in postage, printing and overhead, plus the costs associated with losing and alienating a customer.

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Measure Results Quality addresses maximize the opportunity for improved delivery, resulting in potentially faster responses, reduced days sales outstanding and enhanced cash flow. Procedures should be put in place to measure the impact of address quality solutions. The results should reflect a decline in address correction notices, returned and/or forwarded mail.

Address and Barcode Compliance There are a number of regulations relating to the printing and placement of addresses and barcodes on commercial mailings. Some of these include: •

Minimum clearances between the barcode and any information line above or below it within the address block must be met for both the POSTNET barcode and the Intelligent





Melissa Data is USPS® CASS™ and PAVE™ Gold* Certified. Melissa Data is a nonexclusive NCOALink® Interface Distributor and Full Service Provider Licensee of the USPS. The following trademarks are owned by the United States Postal Service®: CASS; PAVE; NCOALink; United States Postal Service: USPS. The prices for the NCOALink processing are not established or controlled by the USPS. *View list of Presort categories at Ad# 3.10 a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Mail barcode. There is also a limitation relative to the separation between the barcode and the top line or bottom line of the address block. For barcodes printed on documents using window envelopes, a clear space must be maintained when the document or insert is moved to its full limits in each direction within the envelope. This is often referred to as the “tap test.” Many document generation and addressing software solutions include functionalities to assist mailers in meeting these requirements. The MERLIN program verifies First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, and Periodicals mail against Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) standards. One of several verifications is barcode readability. Results that fall below the minimum threshold may not be eligible for the postage rate in which the mailing was entered. MERLIN provides diagnostic reports so that mailers can improve mail quality as applicable. According to USPS Publication 28, Postal Addressing Standards, minimum size point type fonts apply; the point type may be slightly smaller if the mailpieces bear a POSTNET or Intelligent Mail barcode and the address is printed in all capital letters. Delivery addresses for letter-size mailpieces must be within the optical character read area. Address placement criteria also applies to commercial flats. On all Periodicals, Standard Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail and Library Mail flats mailed at presorted, automation or carrier route prices, mailers must place the delivery address parallel or perpendicular to the top edge on the front or the back of the mailpiece and within the top half of the mailpiece. That doesn’t mean that the mailpiece must be addressed in landscape, but rather, when positioned in portrait for the purposes of preparation and processing, the address must then be in the top half of the piece.

If these standards for flats are not met, the mailer may be required to pay additional postage, or correct and re-enter the mailing. For example, an automation-price Standard Mail flat-size mailing that does not meet the standards would pay automation First-Class Mail flats prices appropriate for the weight of the pieces, resulting in a significantly increased postage spend. I would be remiss in not mentioning the Intelligent Mail barcode. While the Postal Service recently postponed the retirement of the POSTNET barcode, use of only the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation discounts will eventually occur. It is with this barcode that the USPS will gain total visibility of pieces within the mail stream, as well as capture and grade mailers’ address quality data. To that end, mailer implementation of procedures and solutions to ensure compliance of postal regulations will become increasingly more important. Customer satisfaction is certainly a critical factor in building and maintaining a business, but that should not preclude an owner’s responsibility to monitor and carefully guard the bottom line. Quality control to ensure correct addresses is a win-win for mailers as they benefit in multiple financial ways — and simultaneously support and protect their valued customers by keeping them happy. Elizabeth Lombard, CMDSM, CMDSS, MDP, MDC, EMCM is National Postal-Carrier Manager, Pitney Bowes Inc.



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JetVision solution aids Aspen Marketing Services with high-speed matching capabilities

Aspen Marketing Services, with headquarters in Chicago, IL, is a leading full-service marketing company with locations across the US. Aspen Marketing provides services for the automotive, telecom, financial, retail and manufacturing industries. With more than 23 years experience, Aspen Marketing has evolved from being a direct marketing provider to the automotive industry to offering fully integrated marketing and communications services to a wide variety of clients. These services include direct mail, event marketing, public relations and database analytics, and assists companies with their marketing efforts.

Business challenges At its Chicago facility, Aspen Marketing handles approximately 2,000 unique jobs and 7.5 million mailpieces each month. Business was growing ahead of schedule, and Aspen Marketing realized that it needed to expand the list of capabilities and services for clients. Many of the new jobs required two or more items to be matched together in one mailing – and the opportunity to automate these applications would alleviate outsourcing and reduce cost. Aspen Marketing chose the JETVision solution from BÖWE BELL + HOWELL to meet this requirement. Before implementing the JETVision solution, smaller jobs requiring matching services were handled in-house by a team of temporary workers, which proved to be very slow and very costly. Temporary workers were costing hundreds of dollars each day, and every matched mailpiece was taking well over 12 seconds on average to assemble. Higher-volume jobs were also a challenge; they were outsourced and profitability was impacted. “Our business was growing faster than our infrastructure, and we were challenged with coming up with ways to get work done in a timely and cost-effective manner,” says Denny Dee, Vice President of Production Services. “I had experience with the benefits and results from using JETVision, and knew that JETVision was one of the keys to our successful growth.”

New solutions In 2008, Aspen Marketing implemented JETVision on multiple inserting systems in order to increase its productivity and profitability, and ensure 100% integrity of the company’s mailpieces. JETVision was selected over competitive solutions due to its ease of use for operators, a long-standing partnership relationship with BÖWE BELL + HOWELL and previous successes with JETVision at other companies by senior members of Aspen Marketing.

Impact of new solutions The JETVision systems are integrated with Aspen Marketing inserters and enable them to handle jobs of all sizes that require matching services. Aspen Marketing can now handle this specialized manufacturing in-house and has experienced a 20% cost savings with

impressive productivity gains now that jobs are being turned around in days instead of weeks. Since Aspen Marketing has offered automated, intelligent matching services to its customers, it has opened up new revenue channels from vertical markets that were previously hard to reach. This new capability has convinced Aspen Marketing that the JETVision technology should be added to the company’s entire inserter fleet. “JETVision is a quick and easy return on investment for any company that is looking to automate a manual mailing process,” says Dee.

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© 2011 BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Company. All rights reserved. BÖWE BELL + HOWELL, the BÖWE BELL + HOWELL logo and Phillipsburg are trademarks or registered trademarks of BBH, Inc. BBH, JETVision, and Pinnacle are trademarks or registered trademarks of Bowe Bell + Howell Company. Intelligent Mail is a registered trademark or trademark of the United States Postal Service. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. Specifications are subject to change without notice. a MARCH-APRIL 2011


It’s Universal Optical Character Recognition: A backbone for postal and mail sorting applications | By Kaz Jaszczak

High-volume mailers, postal operators, fulfillment service bureaus and digital mail center automation vendors streamline and automate the sortation of the full mail stream — including letters, flats, parcels, forwarded mail, business reply mail and bundles with solutions developed and implemented for outgoing, incoming and interoffice mail sorting.

sorting applications pertaining to parcels, bundles, flats and letters and can be easily adapted to country-specific address recognition requirements. In particular, the universal OCR software has been used to develop handwritten and machine-print address recognition software for a number of countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, UK and United States and has accomplished each project within a short period of time and with relatively low expense. Today, universal OCR technology has become a requirement for postal operators that want to take their systems to the next performance level.  

Next generation universal address recognition technology for the postal market incorporates the latest achievements in artificial intelligence and uses the combination of multiple independent engines and contextual information to read machine print and handwritten addresses with unprecedented performance in deciphering difficult, poor quality and hard-to-read input material typically rejected by conventional OCR systems. This next generation technology helps posts to address challenges faced in gaining further advancements in mail sorting and in obtaining new business opportunities. The technology works in mail-forwarding and

Universal OCR serves as a backbone for a wide range of postal and mail sorting applications. It is not only used to decode the whole variety of domestic addresses up to the highest depth of sort, but also to solve such challenging problems as mail redirection, processing of incomplete addresses and reading foreign mail. All of these applications go beyond mere address recognition to perform a broader range of tasks, including more sophisticated data analysis. In performing mail redirection, the technology reads and matches personal/business addressee names contained in the destination address block with names contained in the USPS Change of Address

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is known for its ability to read all character types — machine print, handprint and cursive — in many style variations. The technology automates the reading of addresses on letters, flats and parcels. It was developed to specifically address the needs of the postal market and has taken automatic sorting to levels unheard of just a few years ago.



Universal OCR

(COA) database, locates and reads the return address, and executes Address Change Service (ACS) and endorsement determination. For instance, processing mailpieces with incomplete addresses is part of a bigger undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) problem that causes significant losses for USPS and other postal operators throughout the world and is addressed by universal OCR technology. Such mailpieces typically require additional handling: if an address cannot be automatically resolved, the mailpiece is sent for manual processing, oftentimes to conclude that the address is unreadable and it cannot be processed further. The latest OCR technologies include an arsenal of sophisticated techniques enabling a conclusive judgment about the quality of address information (for example, technology can determine that an address is incomplete or inaccurate), thus eliminating the need to send a mailpiece for manual keying.  

Other potential uses for the universal OCR technology include:  Detection of overlapping mail pieces (so called “double feed”), even where the shift is very small, to ensure that the covered mailpieces are not lost or sent to a wrong destination  Detecting and recognizing “Return to sender” stamps, which may be randomly located on mailpieces and are often of a very poor quality  Processing foreign mail, discrimination between domestic and foreign mail  Processing addresses written in foreign languages

Inbound and Outbound Mail Sorting for German Mail Universal OCR technology is used for inbound and outbound international mail sorting in Germany. This application actively exploits and benefits from a broad range of universal OCR features and capabilities. Outbound mail stream processing is limited to reading the country name on mail leaving Germany. Therefore, OCR locates and reads a country name, which may be written in German as well as in the language of the destination country. For example, a letter addressed to the United States may have the country name written as “USA” or “Vereinigte Staaten.” A letter addressed to the Ivory Coast may have “Côte d’Ivoire” or “Elfenbeinküste.” It is important that a postal sorting machine be able to correctly interpret any variation, in writing, of the country name. Another challenge is to reliably discriminate between domestic and foreign mail. Typically, foreign mailpieces are processed separately and are sent abroad. If a domestic address is interpreted as a foreign address, the mailpiece is sent abroad and will either be lost or, at best, reach the addressee with a significant delay. Universal OCR meets the most strict error rate requirements to differentiate between domestic and foreign mail. Inbound mail processing implies sorting German addresses for mail coming from different countries. In this case, universal OCR uses standard Deutsche Post coding rules ensuring the required finalization levels: “Outward” sortation levels include recognition of a five-digit German postal code as well as city name on a mailpiece. Optionally, if database content is available, the depth of automatic a MARCH-APRIL 2011


coding may be increased from an outward level to an inward level that decodes addresses to an eight-digit German postal code (street name recognition) and even to a “House Number” level, decoding all mailpieces coded to an 11-digit German postal code. In the latter case, the house number is recognized on a mailpiece.

Implementation of the Universal OCR Implementation of the universal OCR for commercial mail sorting in Germany is another example of benefits that advanced technology brought to a leading German mailer, processing over 600,000 items per day in an eight-hour window. Of these 600,000 pieces, 250,000 are processed using the new universal OCR. The automated solution efficiently processes a mixed mail stream of letters and flats, providing significantly increased performance in machine-printed and handwritten address reading compared to a previously installed system, and allowing private post mailers to capitalize on maximum efficiency of mail processing. In particular, the system enabled significant reduction of first pass rejects providing over 30% savings per item compared to video encoding. Using the latest address recognition and interpretation technology, it is possible to achieve savings even on the most illegibly printed and handwritten addressed mailpieces. Due to the higher depth of coding, the solution also enabled walk sequence sorting into smaller merged blocks, street snippets (instead of individual households) in order to cut processing time. As a result of the integrated OCR solution, the postal



service provider has increased first pass finalization and has drastically reduced second pass video coding efforts, saving time and money. The solution allows customers to automatically read over 94% of addresses on mailpieces. This includes 15% of handwritten addresses, resulting in over 30% savings per mail item over manual data entry (video coding). Postal services and mail processors continue to be faced with the same challenge every day — getting millions of mailpieces delivered on time. On top of that, they are also being confronted by increased competition in the form of newer, faster and higher quality services offered by others today. Accurately reading information contained on mail pieces is necessary to provide successful mail processing and innovative services to customers. Using advanced technology to ensure the most complete and detailed understanding of the content of all data, printed or written, on a mailpiece is now a key element to address these challenges and gain a competitive advantage. Kaz Jaszczak, with more than 25 years experience in research and product management, is Director of Product Planning and Operations at Parascript, LLC., an address recognition and interpretation company. He can be reached at or 303-381-3153.

ApplicAtion Article Picture Perfect Match SySteM OfferS the firSt SteP tOward autOMating yOur Match MailingS

The patent pending Picture Perfect Match System was designed to fill the gap between costly automated match verification systems and hand matching or hand checking match mailings off the end of the inserter. The Basic System displays images of the personalized mail components on a screen for the inserter operator to monitor for good or bad matches. Up to four USB pluggable cameras are positioned over the insert track, under the envelope hopper or under the backtable (with a cutout in the backtable) to grab an image of each personalized component. The images are stored in memory and after the last image of the mail piece has been taken, all of the images are displayed on the screen. These images are then easily viewed side by side for the operator to verify that all of the components match. This allows match mailings to be run on swingarm inserters, at up to 7,200 pieces per hour, and every piece can be verified as a good match. Because the images are ordinarily displayed prior to reaching the moistener brush, sealing can be done inline without the worry of having to rip the envelopes open in the event of a mismatch. The software was designed with the operator in mind. A customizable set up

screen allows for one click per camera to set the position and timing. The images can be displayed as often as desired, every image, every other, every third, etc. Each camera has individual adjustments for brightness, contrast, focus and more. Each image can be zoomed in or flipped upside down if needed. Ten sets of images remain in memory. In the event of a mismatch, the sets images can be recalled to identify where the mismatch first occurred. The cameras are mounted to a flexible, magnetic mounting stand. When repositioning for a new job, simply lift them up and set them into a different place. The cables run through the inside of the flexible arm, protecting then from damage. The cameras swivel 90 degrees in each direction and are small enough to fit under the envelope station, aiming up at the envelope, even on inserters with a butterfly opener. The only moving component is the encoder that attaches the PC to the inserter and since 2007 not one has failed. The system comes complete with the PC, 20� monitor, two cameras, software, and a mobile computer stand.

Optional upgrades include Image Capture, Optical Character Recognition and Barcode Recognition. Image Capture simply records every set of images to the hard drive. Optical Character Recognition(OCR) takes the same images captured by the basic system and converts them to data such as name or sequence number. This data can then be compared by the software and determined to be a good or bad match. In the event of a mismatch the software can then stop the inserter automatically. This upgrade can also be used to verify sequence numbers and provide a report upon completion of the job including number of pieces, number of matches/mismatches, as well as end of process verification as quality control for the customer. Barcode recognition, which includes OCR, can decode IMB and 2D (data matrix) barcodes to be compared to another barcode or sequence number. For more information contact us at: or 314-853-5867. a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Going Postal Is No Laughing Matter Since the 1970s, incidents of workplace violence have tripled. Don’t wait until you have to figure out what to do in a crisis. By Dave Flora The term “going postal,” a common American slang term, is defined as “becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of shooting people to death, usually in a workplace environment.” Unfortunately the USPS has had to carry this tarnish to its brand since the early 80s, even though incidents of workplace violence take place every day in every region of the country and in every sector of the economy. Nearly all of these incidents are “unexpected,” even though in 2008 an average of two workers per day were killed in the workplace. My first brush with a potential workplace violence incident occurred managing a print center in a remote business park. After having sent an employee home without pay earlier in the day, I was catching up on paperwork well past closing. Having left the front door and back bay door open to improve ventilation, I was surprised to see a large man get out of my employee’s car. It was my employee’s spouse. I knew from the moment I saw the “Tasmanian Devil” tattoo on his shoulder that this might not turn out well. But more on that later!

What is Workplace Violence? Any definition of workplace violence must be broad enough to encompass the full range of behaviors that can cause injury, damage property, impede the normal course of work or make workers, managers and customers fear for their safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as, “violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty.” 22


Most definitions of workplace violence describe any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting that includes, but is not limited to:

Psychological  Intimidating presence  Harassment (being followed, sworn at or shouted at)  Obscene phone calls  Suspicious powder mail  Threats

Physical  Beatings  Rapes  Shootings  Stabbings  Package bombs  Suicides

Four Categories of Workplace Violence

Type 1: Violent acts by criminals who have no other connection with your workplace but enter to commit robbery or another crime. These acts account for the vast majority of workplace homicides. In these incidents, the motive is usually theft, and in a great many cases, the criminal is carrying a gun or other weapon, increasing the likelihood that the victim will be killed or seriously wounded.

Preventive strategies for Type 1 include an emphasis on physical security measures such as access control, special employer policies and employee training.

Type 2: Violence directed at employees by customers for whom your company provides services, or by “disgruntled” individuals, such as animal rights activists who may believe your organization is involved in “unacceptable business behavior.” These verbal threats, threatening behavior or physical assaults are committed by an assailant who either receives services from or is under the custodial supervision of the affected workplace or the victim. Assailants can be current or former customers/clients such as passengers, patients, students, criminal suspects or prisoners. The customer/client may be provoked when s/he becomes frustrated by delays or by the denial of benefits or services. Many “mystery mail” and suspicious package incidents are perpetrated by individuals who feel some level of “perceived injustice” against an individual or organization.

Type 3: Violence committed by someone that has employment-related involvement with your company. These verbal threats, threatening behavior or physical assaults are committed by an assailant who has some employment-related involvement with the workplace — a current or former employee or a supervisor/manager, for example. In committing a threat or assault, the individual may be seeking revenge for what is perceived as unfair treatment. This type of violence can usually be divided into two subtypes: violence between supervisors/managers and subordinates, and violence between co-workers or peers. This type of violence has a much greater chance of some warning signs in the form of observable behavior. This knowledge, along with the appropriate prevention programs, can mitigate the potential for violence or prevent it altogether.

Type 4: Violence committed by someone with whom the victim has a personal relationship. These assaults involve verbal threats, threatening behavior or physical assaults by an assailant who, in the workplace or on workplace property, confronts an individual with a personal relationship outside of work. Personal relations include a current or former spouse, lover, relative, friend or acquaintance. The assailant’s actions are motivated by perceived difficulties in the relationship or by psycho-social factors that are specific to the assailant. This category includes victims of domestic violence, assaulted or threatened, while at work.

What Can You Do? Many workplace violence incidents are foreseeable and/or preventable. However, management is often untrained and illequipped to recognize a developing situation and therefore unable to take appropriate action. Complete an assessment of your current plans versus best practices.

Although workplace violence can often be unforeseen, it may also be the ultimate outcome of ongoing issues involving employees and/or management. Either way, there are steps to take to prevent workplace violence and to protect employees. Having a system to report workplace violence threats or signs of such is one way that organizations can intervene before a situation culminates into full violent incident. Eliminating violence in the workplace before it happens should be a top priority for every employee. Organizations should establish a workplace violence policy as part of their overall Business Continuity Programs. Responsibility for workplace violence prevention and response is not exclusively a security issue, a human resources issue, an employment law issue, a behavioral issue or a management issue. Instead it touches on each of these disciplines. The most effective response requires a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on different parts of the management structure, with different tasks, perspectives, areas of knowledge and skills.

Following an Incident of Workplace Violence Employers should encourage all employees to report and log all incidents and threats of workplace violence. Following any act of violence against personnel at the workplace, employers should:  Provide prompt medical evaluation and treatment to any affected employees immediately after the incident.  Report violent incidents to your organization’s Workplace Violence Prevention Oversight Committee.  Advise victims of their legal right to prosecute perpetrators.  Ask witnesses to the incident to remain on the property until a statement can be taken independently from each of them. Each employee’s statement should include what they saw, what happened, who was involved and any other relevant information. Provide these statements to those conducting the investigation.  Discuss the circumstances of the incident with staff members. Encourage employees to share information about ways to avoid similar situations in the future.  Offer stress debriefing sessions and post-traumatic counseling services to help workers recover from a violent incident.  Investigate all violent incidents and threats, monitor trends in violent incidents by type or circumstance and institute corrective actions.  Discuss openly the risks and signs of employee violence during regular employee meetings.

So, What Happened? Back to my story. While I was all alone at my print center, I was very fortunate to have been on the phone with another manager who was able to coach me along through the incident. That manager calmly told me to tell the spouse that employment law prohibited me from discussing his wife’s employment circumstances with anyone other than her. He begrudgingly accepted that information and left after a half hour of sitting in the parking lot staring at the front door, now locked… but that “Tasmanian Devil” tattoo on his shoulder is something I have never forgotten. Dave Flora is a subject matter expert in Print and Mail Center Safety and Security, and a Principal at Firestorm, a national leader in crisis management, vulnerability analysis/threat assessment, risk mitigation and business continuity. a MARCH-APRIL 2011


Reality Check

With Wanda Senne

Postmaster Donahoe – Generous Listening


t’s no secret. I think Patrick Donahoe is a fantastic choice as the Postmaster General and CEO of the United States Postal Service. Okay, I can hear it now. “Wanda’s trying to win points with Pat.” Well, that never hurts, but that is not the goal of my column. What I am trying to do is show how Pat’s “Generous Listening Style” can help all of us who earn our paychecks through the mail by following his example, building relationships and improving business. So what’s generous listening? I heard that expression at a recent study group and was intrigued. There is a great deal of information related to improving communication styles, and several experts recommend “generous listening” as part of your tool box. I pay attention when someone’s talking. I even put down my BlackBerry and nod my head when I’m listening. Ah, nope! That’s not it. That’s automatic listening and is the way most of us listen. It doesn’t take any thought, attention or effort. I do it all the time. I wait for a gap in the conversation so I can jump in to get my point across – or I “zone out” if it appears that my opinion will be ignored and wonder what’s for lunch. So what’s generous listening? Back to Pat... for the past five years, I’ve participated on the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee Leadership Committee’s quarterly meetings at postal headquarters. Pat (then Deputy PMG) would attend the “pulse of the industry” segment of the meeting because he truly was interested in what we had to tell him. Here’s what Pat did: •


Remained completely attentive to the person speaking. He seemed to be willing to step out of his shoes and into the speaker’s in a sincere effort to begin a deeper understanding of the issue or concern. Asked open-ended questions as if on a journey with the speaker. Conversations don’t go anywhere without someone truly listening. Paraphrased what he heard in his own words and kept a “you” focus. Setting a focus beyond the words to the emotions involved — to the experience that I was trying to communicate. He always left me with a sense that he valued the input and sincerely wanted to build a good customer relationship. Looked for and used feedback for systemic improvement. Being willing to hear individual “truth” sparks entrepreneurial creativity — people respect an atmosphere where every-


one’s view is valued. This doesn’t mean agreement with every issue and concept; it does mean you are heard. We have a PMG who demonstrates generous listening and is an entrepreneur. How can you be an entrepreneur in an organization as mature as the USPS? You create a vision of innovation with an orientation to the marketplace. You don’t keep doing the same things you’ve been doing. You have external optimism that allows others to believe in you in the rough times. You are a realist who looks for opportunities, takes calculated risks and has the tenacity to push an idea through to reality. And what is the best way to accomplish the necessary innovation? You generously listen to your customers and stakeholders and involve them in your vision — like Pat does.

“We are in the process of changing many aspects of the Postal Service to better serve the American people. It all begins with listening to our customers, understanding and internalizing their core needs, and then doing everything we can to meet those needs.” Patrick R. Donahoe a Wanda Senne is the National Director of Postal Development for World Marketing. Contact her at or 770-431-2591.

Pushing the Envelope

With Kate Muth

Right-Sizing the USPS


arry Quadracci, the founder and former head of QUAD/ Graphics, used to say that “the first step to making money is losing less each month.” The same could be said for mail volumes. And by that standard, the Postal Service’s first-quarter results for FY 2011, which showed a small increase in total mail volumes, are good news. To some degree. When we get inside the numbers, we see that the Postal Service still faces an uphill battle to regain its financial footing. Let’s put aside, for the moment, the overfunding of its retiree plans. We all know what the aggressive prefunding schedule of its retiree health benefits and its overpayment to federal pension plans have done to the Postal Service’s finances. They are forcing the Postal Service to the brink of insolvency. But even a look at the operating income and volume figures paints a troubling picture. The Postal Service saw a 700 million increase in total mail volume in the first quarter. That’s good news, right? It’s certainly better to have volume growth than volume loss, but the growth came almost entirely in Standard Mail. It is good to see Standard Mail tick upwards because it suggests that the economy is in full recovery mode and businesses are spending more on advertising. Standard Mail remains an important part of many companies’ advertising “spend,” and so it should see continued growth. The bad news is that First Class Mail volumes continue to decline. The Postal Service predicts that First Class Mail volume will decline another 25 billion pieces or so over the next 10 years. Because it takes 2.5 pieces of Standard Mail to make up the contribution of one piece of First Class Mail, we need significant increases in Standard Mail to offset the ongoing loss in First Class Mail. That type of mail volume growth isn’t going to happen. Revenues also continue to decline. They should inch upwards after the April 17 inflation-based price increase, but again, not nearly enough to cover all the federal benefits payments, let alone to begin paying off the $12 billion in debt the Postal Service has amassed to pay its retiree health benefits.

part of the business plan must be the Postal Service’s plan for operating in the digital age. Both parts of this plan are equally important. No more tinkering around the edges of rightsizing the infrastructure. No more worrying about “showing your hand” on the network plans for fear that Congress will attempt to thwart it. Set out a decisive, descriptive plan for optimizing the infrastructure and enact it.

Going Digital The digital plan is equally important. It might be even more important because time is running out for the Postal Service to be a player in the digital world. Few of us know anything about the Postal Service’s plans for operating in the digital space. • Where does it see itself fitting in? • What role does it believe it can play? • How can it use its infrastructure, its trusted brand name to offset some of the shortcomings of digital communications? • What opportunities should it pursue immediately? • What partnerships should it nurture? • What ideas do its customers have?

I know I heard a lot of good ideas from postal customers at an August Innovation Symposium. But that was more than six months ago — a lifetime in the digital market. If the Postal Service wants to play in this market, it needs a thoughtful and realistic plan. It also needs Congress to do its part. Fix the overfunding of pension and healthcare plans so the Postal Service can right its ship – and customers can stop overpaying for postage. a Kate Muth is President of Muth Communications, a writing, editing and consulting firm. Contact her at

Congress needs to fix the benefits overfunding issues. This is the only immediate solution. This is the fair and equitable thing to do. This would buy the Postal Service precious time to get its house in order. As part of the overfunding fix, Congress should demand a new detailed business plan from the Postal Service. The plan really needs to address only two things: first, a blueprint of how the Postal Service intends to right-size its network. The second a MARCH-APRIL 2011


ApplicAtion Article Piece-LeveL Tracking in PosTaL Processes

For many mailers, piece-level tracking occurs in some, but not all, of the steps in a document’s lifecycle. While not desirable, many mailers have accepted a reduced level of integrity and quality, provided their postage costs and processes were optimized. To compensate in process areas where tracking controls are not in place, some mailers try to reconcile job and piece counts and assume that each count is a unique mailpiece that has been processed properly. In this case, mailpieces that have been diverted or jammed by an inserting or sorting process lack visibility and are not identified until collected and submitted for reprocessing. For First Class Mail, these process flaws can have legal or regulatory ramifications. For Standard Mail, key customers or prospects could be omitted from a campaign, resulting in lost sales opportunities. Hardware and software solutions from BÖWE BELL + HOWELL (BBH) have enabled mailers to dramatically reduce gaps in these processes, providing real-time visibility and control for every mailpiece in every process. This can ensure the highest level of integrity and quality, and can also result in successful marketing and direct mail campaigns. In the sorting process, BBH offers mailers a modular suite of solutions that can maximize their return on investment and deliver results. Identifying mis-fed or damaged mail helps mailers meet ever-demanding customer expectations. Double-fed mailpieces in a sorting operation or mis-inserted mailpieces can result in missed opportunities that often go unnoticed in many reporting

processes today. Including a doubles detector, which uses a special edge sensing technology to isolate and identify double-fed pieces, limits the opportunity for pieces to go uncounted through the sorter. Adding a thickness detection device, coupled with doubles detection, further enhances the overall quality and value to mailers while further reducing the number of potential problems encountered in a comingle mailing operation. Recent advances in thickness detection use lasers to help identify each mailpiece and determine the relative opacity of a piece to the thickness spectrum established by the mail owner. Used in tandem, both forms of detection not only reduce double-fed pieces, they also isolate mis-inserted pieces as well. Using the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb), companies are able to identify each piece being processed, using either a pre-applied IMb or one applied during the process. Other quality processes can be leveraged using a series of other feature-rich barcodes such as data matrix, enabling additional tracking and reporting capabilities that enhance the overall operation quality and feedback to mail owners. To use these additional mailpiece intelligence features, BBH created Matchback. With Matchback, mailers are able to provide visibility for their customers through a data-rich environment of information about each mailpiece processed in sorting. Data can include the date and time of processing as well as mailpiece qualification level, tray destination and mailing date, all linked to a single customer account record. Mail-

ers can compare this data with information from inserting processes to close the loop in their mailpiece tracking process, while also creating transparency within their operations and visibility into the end-to-end processes performed for their clients. Overall, they are increasing the level of accuracy while meeting customer expectations. Using BBH Track N Trace solutions, mailers extend this visibility and insight in their quality and delivery performance to delivery through the USPS. Tracking pieces through the USPS Confirm program continues to take on more importance as a greater degree of transparency is demanded from customers and business partners. As regulatory requirements for financial, medical and other businesses continue to develop and add more stringent rules, mailers need to be certain that they are taking advantage of every opportunity to gain insight into their mailing processes. Accountability for each and every mailpiece is a requirement for most mailers and BBH tools like NetSort, Matchback and Track N Trace provide mailers with a detailed map into every mailpiece’s journey. Dave Bush is Market Development Manager for Postal Sorting Software, BÖWE BELL + HOWELL. © 2011 Böwe Bell + Howell Company. All rights reserved. BÖWE BELL + HOWELL and the Böwe Bell + Howell logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of BBH, Inc. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. Specifications are subject to change without notice. a MARCH-APRIL 2011


ApplicAtion reAl-life ApplicAtion Article Direct Mailer Uses Data Hygiene tools to gain eDge

A direct mailing company in North Carolina that provides their customers with inexpensive, high-quality direct mail services for lead generation uses three contact data verification and enrichment products from Melissa Data to stay competitive: Address Object; GeoCoder Object; and MAILERS+4 postal automation software. Most of the company’s orders come in via the Web. In a typical transaction – perhaps a 700-piece mailer – a customer logs onto the website where contact information, images and content are stored. The customer has the option of uploading their own mailing list or using a prospect list provided by the company. To perform data hygiene, the company has integrated Address Object into their website to provide real-time address verification and offer customers a 24-hour direct mail service. Address Object is a multiplatform, CASS Certified API that verifies, corrects, standardizes, and adds ZIP + 4 codes to addresses before they enter a da-


tabase. The tool also provides native support for Canadian address validation and postal encoding. With Address Object integrated into the website, customers have the option of correcting any problems that come up during the upload process. Validating the address “on-the-fly” gives customers the assurance that everything on their mailing list will be mailed successfully. Address Object can also be used to validate addresses in batch mode. After the mailing list is prepared, customers can then create their mailing on the website and submit the order, which is usually printed and mailed within 24 to 48 hours. The company helps their customers develop targeted mailings using commercial lists and offering demographic filters and a street selection process to zero in on specific neighborhoods. To make it easier for customers to develop a mailing list, the company geocodes data using the GeoCoder Object that adds latitude and


longitude coordinates to each address in the mailing list. This is particularly helpful for realtors who “farm” a neighborhood around a house they have sold. To fulfill customer mailings, the company uses MAILERS+4 CASS and PAVE Goldcertified software. The all-in-one program delivers the tools needed to verify, update, dedupe, presort and print labels and tags to meet USPS requirements for maximum discounted mailings. MAILERS+4 also generates the required CASS Form 3553, postage statements and mailing summary reports. The company uses Melissa Data products in conjunction with their 100-million record database of US addresses and believes that most of what they do would be difficult or impossible without these tools.

Melissa Data 1-800-MELISSA (635-4772)

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industry experts share the keys to a successful technology upgrade

Full-service IMB: Is it all risk, with no reward? page 32

Finding the next “Mail Moment” page 34

to make Four ways software money using page 24

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You can save on postage costs—but only if you know where to look page 26




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14 OOT 26 H

Digital Co-mingle

What to See at NPF Product Spotlight AccuMail Makes It Easy!


13 OOT 28 H

Debuting at NPF, all-new Mailing Software from Datatech SmartSoft designed to save you money!

AccuMail frameworks Mailers Edition is fast, easy-to-use and packed full of features to make your life easier. Stop by Booth 1328 at NPF for your FREE TRIAL software, ask about our Switch ‘n’ Save program and get up to 6 months free! Datatech SmartSoft 888-227-7221

Making Every Delivery Accountable


15 OOT 33 H

Automated Parcel Exchange (APX) Lockers by IOPC Modular Millwork provide unprecedented efficiency and chain-of custody accountability for time-sensitive, high-value deliverables. The APX System is designed for use by businesses to streamline and improve the process of parcel distribution between the parcel collection point and intended recipient. Lockers are designed to fit your specific logistics and space. IOPC Modular Millwork® 864-848-0062

BÖWE BELL + HOWELL’s solution for digitally co-mingling mail analyzes potential postage discounts and factors such as production costs to ensure you’re maximizing savings. With Digital Co-mingle, you can measure the financial gains to determine when it’s appropriate to co-mingle your mail. BÖWE BELL + HOWELL 1-800-220-3030


60 OOTH 9

2-WAY ecoEnvelopes Debuts New Solutions

New solutions for Packaging, Retail Office Supply, Greening Cards and Green Wedding Invitations added to ecoEnvelopes 2-WAY reusable envelope portfolio. Visit to learn about nationwide statement mailing applications and Direct Mail response rates as high as 22%. One ecoEnvelope costs less than two envelopes: Save money, Do Good with ecoEnvelopes. ecoEnvelopes, LLC. 612-605-4885 888-428-4364


62 OOTH 7

A-Qua Mailer™. It’s in the cloud.

Use A-Qua Mailer’s on-demand suite of direct mail services to access address quality and mail list processing services such as ZIP + 4®, NCOALink® processing, Duplicate Elimination, Postal Presort, Printer File Output, and more without having to install software on It’s in your computer. Services are the delivered ‘in the cloud’.


Lorton Data 651-203-8290

Deliver Value with Mail Integrity


15 oot 41 h

If your customer gets a piece of mail with a double, do you say, “the operator should have taken it out?” MCS Microvision Output Camera System ensures the integrity of your output. Double-detect, file audit, output verification and quality control diverting are all capabilities that add value to your work. You and your customers will appreciate it.

More Jobs, More Revenue


15 oot 41 h

The MCS Eagle UV Inkjet is the first 4.25” UV inkjet printer for the mailing market. This high-speed, high resolution printer offers wide print widths, supports difficult substrates such as coated stocks and gift cards, and uses less ink than its competitors while delivering true native 600dpi quality. It can mount on almost any existing transport or base. MCS 1-800-728-0154

MCS 1-800-728-0154

Maximize Postal Discounts at NPF 2011


16 oot 24 h

MAILERS+4 is the CASS- and PAVE Gold-certified solution used by thousands of mailers to streamline mail operations and maximize postal discounts and direct-mail savings. This all-in-one program verifies, corrects, standardizes, dedupes and presorts mailings for savings of up to 65% in postage and printing. MAILERS+4 also offers one-click access to US and Canadian change-of-address processing. Pricing starts as low as $80/month and no long-term commitment.

Integrated Data Services


13 oot 18 h

Bulk Mailer now provides quick and easy access to data enhancement services. Simply use the integrated wizard to append details, amend addresses and suppress records on do-not-mail lists — no need to manually reconcile changes. In most cases, results are available within hours. To learn more, visit booth 1318 or Satori Software Inc. 1-800-553-6477

Melissa Data 1-800-MELISSA (635-4772)

A Tradition of Quality and Service


14 oot 34 h

Certified Mail — No Hand-Labeling


17 oot 29 h

Tension Envelope has served customers with mailing and packaging solutions for 125 years. Since 1886, Tension has been the leader in product innovation. Now the oldest familyoperated US envelope company, Tension continues to lead in quality, service and value. Visit us for ideas and new solutions in mailing and fulfillment.

United Systems of Arkansas, a national producer of datasensitive Certified Mail notices, offers outsourced services and off-the-shelf solutions. USA patented the first USPSapproved Certified Mail laser form with online tracking. Today, we offer 40+ solutions allowing for easy desktop preparation of mailings. Visit NPF booth #1729.

Tension Envelope Corporation

United Systems of Arkansas 800-264-0812

Mailing Systems Technology March April 2011  

Mailing Systems Technology March April 2011

Mailing Systems Technology March April 2011  

Mailing Systems Technology March April 2011