Issue Date: April 2009 newsletter, Posted On: 3/31/2009
Data Processors: A Constant in the Industry With Melinda Bozak
The slowdown in the economy may just be the only thing getting more attention than the Move Update standards these days. So this month I will emphasize the importance of data processors because you are the ones that help your company to implement and understand all those USPS changes, updates, and mandates. (If that is at all humanly possible.) They are a constant in our business. That is a fact and it is probably the only thing the postal service won’t change. The changes they make are not just little things one can learn in the middle of the production of a mailing. Understanding the USPS and its idiosyncratic requirements takes intelligence, time, patience, superior mailing software, and a network of contacts that can relate to our issues and help each other find ‘best practices.’ Also, find those exceptional Postal contacts that are helpful and eager to assist us find answers or solve problems. – Yes, they do exist. When you locate yours be sure to show him/her your appreciation.
You should realize the postal service and its love for change has provided you the opportunity to make yourselves invaluable to your company. Replacing data processors that are able to comprehend postal regulations is not an easy task. If an employee is lost it generally is not a position that someone can step right into. Our company has only had to go through the process once. We were quite fortunate to learn that our selection was a good one. Each company has its own ‘mailing identity.’ Every customer is unique and has particular needs. First-Class, Standard, Non-Profit, or even Package Services… Their mailings may require tracking or perhaps drop shipping. Then there is the whole world of variable data documents. Each one requires specific knowledge. Someone could know all there is to know to meet the needs of one customer, and then another one comes along and wants a service you have little or no experience in. You have to learn – and you have to learn fast.
Besides knowing and understanding postal requirements, that knowledge must be translated and communicated. Data then has to be output for production, which takes knowledge of in-house procedures. Temperament is another factor. Not everyone has the tolerance for the misinformation, deficiencies in information, rushes (and the crankiness that accompanies them), interruptions, and perpetual changes.
Whether you are a department of one, just a few, or several, realize that all those changes imposed on us could actually be a blessing. As long as your company or your customers continue to mail we should be able to ride out this economic downturn. If your company has good employees, chances are they’ll be keeping them – and should seriously consider the consequences before sacrificing any. If one does happen to be lost, there may just be a larger pool with the qualifications you need if companies do choose to make sacrifices in their data processing department.
Let’s hope that the USPS will change only enough to keep us valuable.