For most of us, the upcoming Labor Day Weekend signifies the unofficial end of summer. While the days may be getting a bit shorter and the kids are heading back to school, important subjects regarding the Postal Service never seem to go on break. Bob Rosser and I spent the better part of last week in Washington D.C. for the quarterly Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings. We wanted to give you a CliffsNotes® version of what was presented, starting today with how the USPS is expanding its use of data to improve its service. We will follow that up on Friday with important matters such as the status of Postal Reform and updates on 2015 rates and promotions.
For the past several weeks my colleagues Wes Sparling and Seth Goodman have discussed the importance of using the right data to enhance your direct mail campaigns. The time I spent in MTAC meetings at U.S. Postal Service headquarters showed that data has also become an important part of postal discussions.
Jim Cochrane, USPS EVP & CIO, told MTAC attendees that he is working to provide the tools to replace “intuition” with “data-driven decisions” within the Postal Service. To accomplish that goal, the Postal Service now manages 34 petabytes of data coming from the 1.2 billion mail and package tracking events recorded each day. The Postal Service is driving toward having forward-looking data that is “predictive and prescriptive” – meaning it will provide the tools needed by USPS plant managers to drive efficient and timely processing of mail. Cochrane noted when it comes to data “one size doesn’t fit all” and the Postal Service must collect a wide variety of data to support diverse situations. Whatever type of data is being used by the Postal service, the goal is “more – better – faster” service for its customers.
Steve Dearing, USPS Mailing Information Systems Manager, reported the Postal Service now has 13 billion pieces of Standard Mail under Service Performance Measurement each quarter. In the most recent quarter, 94.7% of Standard Mail letters entered at the Sectional Center Facility (SCF) met their service standard, with almost all of the remainder in-home only one day beyond the standard. In 2015, the Postal Service will begin building an Informed Visibility (IV) platform that will provide mailers with more timely and actionable information about mailings. As an interim step, a new customer portal called PULSE will be available later this fall. This portal will allow mailers to download an expanded set of mailing data until the new IV platform is fully in place.
The Postal Service is also using data to enhance the mail entry process. Pritha Mehra, USPS VP Mail Entry and Payment Technology, provided the assembled group a “Mail Entry Roadmap” that outlines the development and roll-out of new programs such as Full-Service, eInduction and Seamless Acceptance. She reported that 75% of eligible mail is now in Full-Service, which is the program that drives the data powering many other USPS programs.
As more data is available through these various programs, the Postal Service is moving toward measuring mail quality through monthly trend data that is reported back to mailers via online reports known as “Mailer Scorecards.” As an early participant in Seamless Acceptance, IWCO Direct has extensive experience working with these scorecards and can provide guidance for customers who have questions or concerns about these reports.
Look for part two of our postal update Friday when we’ll review the state of the USPS and other important USPS developments.