If you’re not tracking your mail, you’re missing out on opportunities to gather important information to improve whatever results you are trying to achieve. When you track mail, you can gain insight into which of your customers received that critical mail piece and when they received it. That knowledge and understanding is essential, but what's more important is knowing who did not receive it.

    Ask yourself those tough questions that you might not have the answers to, or you might know the answers to but have not yet found sufficient reason to initiate them into your mailing process. Here are a few you may have never considered:

    Did the piece get mailed, or could something have happened to it as it was being routed to their mailbox?

    What if your mail shop accidentally forgot a pallet of mail and it’s still in their warehouse?

    What if the Postal Service is backlogged and pallets of mail aren’t moving?

    What if a delivery truck was abandoned on the side of the road?

    What if there was a national disaster - how would you know which pieces of mail couldn’t get delivered?

    Wouldn’t you want to be able to contact those customers in a different manner?

    I have dealt with and resolved these questions in working with clients who monitored every aspect of their mail delivery. One insurance company that sent critical mail, which included benefits cards, was using a mail shop that accidentally forgot to send a pallet of mail. It sat in a warehouse as the rest of the job was delivered. Those trays remained there for over five days until it was noticed that certain scans were not being received through their mail tracking system. Tracking discovered where the last touchpoint was in the delivery chain, and the pallet was quickly placed back into the system. Fortunately, in this case the impact on customers was minimal.

    Another time, a mail truck caught fire and was abandoned on the side of the road. No one got hurt, but the load of mail was destroyed. My client, who was smart enough to have a tracking partner, was able to identify which customers’ mail was lost. Those jobs were reprinted and remailed. The loss for them was minimal. That is good news. What would have happened if my client was not tracking their mail? How many upset customers would be calling into their call centers with a series of complaints?

    How can you be sure your customer is getting your correspondence?

    What if the intended recipient moved and didn’t file a USPS Change of Address?

    What if you had something wrong with the address?

    How would you know to correct it for the next time?

    Aside from those fluctuating delivery times and crazy events such as weather and fires, what about the fact that you may be mailing to incorrect addresses?You may regularly run NCOA on your records, but about half of the people who move don’t file their new address with the USPS.Wouldn’t it be beneficial to receive that information to correct the address or suppress the mail piece? Tracking can give you that visibility, but it is also a direct path to a stronger relationship with your customers. I advise you to sign up for the USPS ACS service to help capture information about new or undeliverable addresses.

    And so, these questions remain:

    Did your mail arrive on time?

    Was your client impacted because they received a critical piece of mail late?

    Will that damage your relationship with them?

    Do you have compliance regulations that you have to meet/maintain - so knowing that something was delivered, as well as when it arrived, is critical?

    What if you were promoting an event and the pieces didn’t deliver in time - thus impacting your responses/participation?

    How would you even know that was the reason?

    As many of us experienced in the fall of 2020, mail delivery became unpredictable due to COVID, the holidays, the election, and numerous severe weather events that had parts of the country in dire straits. Subsequently, the USPS was challenged to be able to deliver mail through this series of disruptions. The problem is that those disruptions are continuing, which means mailers, big, small, or otherwise, need to control this situation for themselves.

    Having supported major mailers, either with GrayHair or by working in lettershops over the length of my career in the postal industry, I know that tracking every piece of your mail will provide any mailer a better understanding of the status of a mailing or campaign. If you weren’t tracking your mail, you might only be able to confirm delivery if you received a response. I don’t think that’s a best practice any longer. For example, how would you know if a piece was delivered a month later than you planned?Wouldn’t that affect your revenue and create a dissatisfied customer? Do you need that headache?

    With postage rates increasing regularly (we have already had two increases this year, with another one in 2022), I am sure this has you concerned. To offset this cost, now is the time to mail smarter. By tracking your mail, you know when it’s in the mailstream and if or when it’s en route to being delivered. You know when it’s getting forwarded, returned, or destroyed. All that information is available to mailers through tracking (plus ACS, as I mentioned above, and the Secure Destruction program by the USPS). With those add-ons, you can have intelligent communications with your customers and get your mail into their hands when you want and need it to be there.

    Gone are the days of assuming everything is working as it should. Mail tracking will inform you when your supplier presented the mail to the USPS, all the event scans the piece received as it traveled to its destination, when it was delivered, and even when a response was put back in the mail. Visibility of the data is the key to your campaigns. If you are not using tracking, you risk poor customer communications and satisfaction levels, jeopardize SLAs, regulatory compliance, and miss potential issues with your third-party vendors.

    For all the questions there are, the good news is that there are answers. Arm yourself with the data that tracking provides and have critical information at your fingertips to ensure you’re keeping your customers satisfied and getting the most significant return on your investment. I can say with confidence that every client I have worked with, whether it’s a big insurance company, bank, or credit card provider, feels much more confident knowing they’ll be able to solve issues if and as they arise easily. They sleep better at night because they know where their mail is!

    Why am I not tracking my mail? That is the first question you need to ask today.

    Therese Powers is a Client Success Manager at GrayHair Software. She joined the company in 2007 and has witnessed the growth of the company with the ever-changing enhancements of the postal service. She and her team help clients become best-in-class by enhancing their mailing programs, ensuring they have the information they need and the attention they deserve. For more information, Therese can be reached at tpowers@grayhairsoftware.com or on LinkedIn. www.grayhairsoftware.com