How returned mail can hurt your business

Jennifer Goforth Gregory · Pitney Bowes

 3 MINUTES

Though your company may use email and a web-based portal to communicate with customers, there are some situations where there is no replacement for a hard-copy letter: Especially in terms of customer’s bills, statements and service information. Sometimes it’s because you need to ensure the customer receives the information in hard copy. Other customers simply prefer to receive any correspondence from your company through the mail. Regardless of the reason, your company’s mail must be delivered to your customer to retain customers, improve customer satisfaction and save the company money.

However, there are many reasons mail never arrives at its final destination. With over 45 million people moving every year, according to the USPS®, customers often move and without setting up mail forwarding. Even people that set up forwarding may forget to update their address before the forwarding period expires. Undeliverable mail also happens because an address is entered into your system incorrectly, which means the letter or package either gets returned or delivered to someone else. Another common error occurs when an important part of the address is left off, such as the apartment number. 

When a piece of First-Class Mail® is not delivered to a customer, it has an effect on various aspects of the business. While the impact of each single undeliverable piece of mail is relatively small, when multiplied for each piece of returned mail, the impact on a company can be significant.

Here are five ways returned first-class mail impacts your company:

01. Time to process and find correct address 

When a USPS first-class envelope or postcard is returned to your company, you have to do something with it. This takes time. A customer service representative must look for other means to contact the customer and then reach out for delivery. It also takes time to update the customer address in the CRM or other record system. Then, you must also print out a new page with the correct address. It may seem like only a few minutesfor each returned piece), but it all adds up to lost time and inefficient productivity.

02. Unpaid customer bills 

You need your customers to pay their bills. Even more importantly, you need the bills paid on time, because your company needs the revenue to pay its own bills. If enough customers don’t pay on time, then your company’s cash flow can be an issue. Not to mention that when a customer doesn’t pay, that means more work for your service department — reminder letters and follow-up phone calls — to try to collect payment. Customers aren’t going to pay their bills if they never receive their statements and invoicess. The first step in bill collection is making sure the bills are actually received.

03. Increased calls to customer service 

Many customers will proactively contact your company if their bill never shows up. They don’t want to incur a late charge or lose their services. But each call to customer service adds to the hold time for other customers, which makes other customers unhappy. And each minute your customer service rep spends helping a customer on an issue that could have been easily avoided is a lost opportunity for time better spent on something else. 

04. Cost of resending mail

After you spend time finding the right address or correcting the error, you typically must then send out a new letter. This means another envelope at the first-class rate, and another postage charge. If you multiply this by a few returns a day, it turns into a considerable amount of money over the year. 

05. Lower customer satisfaction

Customers don’t want to spend time chasing down a statement or get an overdue notice because of an error in your address list. And people are especially unhappy when they have to chase down a bill to pay you money – or worse, have their service cut off or discontinued because of returned mail. The bottom line: Each piece of returned first-class mail can turn into lower customer satisfaction. 

Start with a clean list 

The best solution for returned first-class mail is prevention. By focusing on reducing returns, you can avoid the negative waterfall effects from a single piece of mail. This means making sure your mailing list is clean and complies with all USPS guidelines for first-class mail.

To ensure a clean list, do the following

  • Proactively enter new addresses when the post office notifies you of forwarded first-class mail.
  • Add a quality assurance step for mailing to make sure no errors occurred during printing. 

Each company works hard to provide high-quality service – the last thing anyone needs is for something as simple as returned mail to undo your hard work. Pitney Bowes can help decrease your return rate by offering assistance with this step of the process. And when you reduce time spent managing returns, you can then focus on finding new customers and providing great service to your current customers. 

Visit pitneybowes.com/us/presortservices for more information.