WHERE IS YOUR RETURNED MAIL HIDDEN?
Every business that sends out mail pieces grapples with the issue of returned mail. Luckily, there are effective ways to reduce its occurrence. Gary A. Seitz
If your business or institution sends out large volumes of mail, it’s there. No matter how good your customer relationship management (CRM) system is, everyone has it. In many cases, it’s hidden from “the bosses,” stashed in a closet, or tucked under desks, cabinets, and tables. Sometimes, it may even be filed in the blue dumpster behind the building or recycled. To what am I referring? Trays and tubs of returned mail, of course. Why all the avoidance and subterfuge? Departments responsible for mailings don’t want to be caught with returns. It casts the perception of mail failure. “Why is mail coming back from our campaign? 16
MAY-JUNE 2018 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
It’s wasted money!” It even leads to mailing budget reductions for the department — and with good reason. Our own analysis of the expenses in returned mail indicates an average of $3.00 per piece on the low end. When you factor in customer churn rates, customer service calls, and future misdirected mailings, the rate may climb as high as $50 per piece of mail. I visited one company and asked about their returned mail process. They quietly took me to the back of the building and opened the door to an abandoned cleaning closet. Inside, there were stacks of yellow-stickered returned mail pieces, and they had no idea what to do with them. What happened when
the closet was full? It got dumped, and the process started over again. A former employee in the development department shared a story of a unique job task. Shortly after-hours in the evening, she was asked to take the trays of returned mail to the parking lot and place them in the trunk of the director’s car. Like a mobster hit, the “body in the trunk” was never seen nor heard from again. The problem is that although everyone is frustrated with the rate and expense, most businesses or institutions don’t have a defined plan or process for dealing with returned mail; nobody on the staff is responsible or accountable for dealing with
Mailing Systems Technology May/June 2018