The latest deadline for implementing the new Cycle L United States Post Office (USPS) regulations has come and gone. The focus for the current USPS Cycle L, which runs from August 1, 2007 to July 31, 2007, is to reduce the number of Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail pieces in order to reduce the approximately $160 million that the USPS spends annually trying to deliver mail to non-existent addresses. If you are a business mailer who hasn't yet corrected your addresses, you are probably working to do so and may be experiencing some pain in the process. Many business mailers were ready before the deadline. In contrast, some experienced technical glitches with the software upgrade, resulting in the USPS granting several large companies extensions. Whether you were on board August 1, or are working now to get there, updating addresses is a priority in order to eliminate any extra cost to your business. While it might seem time-consuming, as well as costly to meet the newly mandated USPS standards, implementing the new CASS-certified software updates should be viewed as a business investment.
The new software updates can bring positive aspects to your business. In updating your addresses, you enhance your customer connection by ensuring that they are not only receiving all of your communications, but that they also are getting them in a timely fashion. Your business will also reap the benefits of minimizing the expense and the waste of returned communications. Quick compliance with the new standards makes it possible for you to protect your bottom line and streamline customer communications.
Even though the deadline has passed, there are still some questions that seem to be lingering regarding the new regulations. While most mailers probably believe their lists are good, DPV processing raises the bar on what "good" means, as well as what "invalid" might cost. USPS's own internal testing indicates that high-volume transactional mailers can expect to find that an additional 2 percent to 5 percent of their existing mailing lists contain non-valid addresses based on DPV requirements. And, as of August 1, these non-valid items are being charged full First-Class postal rates. Although these numbers might seem like a relatively small figure, for a mailing list of one million addresses, an additional 2 percent or 5 percent amounts to 20,000-50,000 mailing pieces. It's easy to see how quickly these charges can add up.
Along with DPV, the new rules also mandate the use of a process called LACSLINK in order to get the maximum discount postal rates. LACSLINK is a system of updating USPS data that takes new addresses from municipal 911 Emergency records, which converts rural addresses to more standardized city-style addresses. It also reflects the changes that happen when USPS renames or renumbers streets and addresses. The new addresses are added as DPV-certified valid delivery points, although mailers are advised not to convert these new addresses to mailing targetsthe USPS databases are seeded with "false positives" or erroneous addresses to prevent this from happening. But LACSLINK is another more automatedand more accurateway of getting information to keep mailing lists up-to-date and helps streamline operations.
Getting your company on board
The USPS alerted the industry to the Cycle L changes several months ago when it advised mailing software developers to implement the planned changes. Some mail-preparation software solutions were ready, some were not. Those that weren't filed extensions, which is raising other issues with companies and industry groups alike. Because of the implementation issues that still exist, Cycle L has been extended for at least another year.
Those who still need to get the Cycle L processes operational can go to www.usps.com and then type in "CASS Cycle L" in the search box. Or, call the
On the horizon
The push for a higher level of address quality is here to stay. Even with the extension of Cycle L, according to the USPS, the address quality tools and services in the next CASS cycleCASS Cycle Mwill help you further clean up your address list and reduce undeliverable-as-addressed-mail. Two possible additional initiatives in the works are SuiteLink, software that improves business addressing by adding known secondary (suite) numbers and Intelligent Mail barcode. MASS manufacturers (MASS certification is a process similar to CASS but is designed for certification for Multiline Optical Character Readers (MLOCRs), Remote Video Encoding (RVE), and encoding stations), and eventually end-users, will have to demonstrate the ability to spray on an Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automated discounts. Believe it or not, now is not too early to get informed on Cycle M.
Get up to speed today
Adapting to the new requirement of running your mailing lists through DPV processing not only qualifies your company for the deepest automation discounts, it gives your business the ability to practice the best in document processes. Taking a proactive approach to getting your business up to speed with the new USPS regulations by implementing DPV and LACSLINK today will help you enhance your customer communications and enjoy a healthier bottom line.
Harry Stephens is President/CEO, and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation's largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations. He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater