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Don't let return to sender mail compromise your customer relationships

by Steve Cousins
Woman at desk with computer, coffee, notebooks, return to sender mail

Every year, more than 6 billion pieces of mail are deemed undeliverable as addressed (UAA) by the U.S. Postal Service, which then forwards, destroys or returns the mail pieces to the sender. For years, dealing with return to sender mail has been something most businesses have looked at as a "cost of doing business." And at an average production and delivery cost of $3 per piece1, it's a significant cost. However, there's a much larger but more insidious figure at stake: the cost of losing your current customers and the expense to replace them.

Every mail piece deemed return to sender is a lost touchpoint. At the very least, the missed communication negatively affects the customer experience. At its worst, it can lead to a lost customer. And one of the downsides related to how we're all so readily connected these days is just how easy it is to share that negative experience with others...

Bad customer experiences by the numbers2:

  • 60% of consumers say they have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience
  • 79% of high-income households avoid companies for 2+ years after a bad customer experience
  • 95% share bad experiences with others, 54% share with 5+ people, 45% share negative views on social media
In addition, studies show it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.3 It follows, then, that communicating effectively with your current customers and keeping them happy makes good business sense, an idea confirmed by statistics that demonstrate that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can boost profits by 25-95%.4
 

Unfortunately, exactly how to shift perspective regarding the mail center from "cost of doing business-land" to "value-added, strategic player-land" still remains a mystery to some. To look at ways you can reduce your return to sender mail load, it helps to think about some of the factors implicated in making a mail piece undeliverable:

  • Is your mailing data being cleansed upstream, before the communications are ready to send out?
  • Are incoming return to sender mail pieces being captured and remediated (vs. stored in an underused closet somewhere)?
  • How quickly are the data from incoming return to sender mail pieces being entered into your customer relationship management (CRM) system?
  • What regulations stand in the way of address updates, and have these regulations been challenged?

Find out how to keep return to sender mail from damaging your customer relationships

Harness mail center insights to stop multiple mailings to undeliverable addresses, gain visibility into line-of-business expenses and ensure that critical information reaches its intended recipient in a timely manner.
 
The good news is that a robust mail center solution can do much more than ensure mail reaches its intended recipients; it can supply the data you need to make better-informed business decisions. It can help you stop wasting money on subsequent mailings to undeliverable addresses and avoid previously unavoidable encounters with that pesky yellow return to sender label. And it can give you tools to supplement the national change of address (NCOA) database so that your customer database is as current as possible.

To learn more about how you can turn your mail center into a value-added strategic player and discover implementation-ready techniques for mitigating return to sender mail, watch the webinar.
 
Steve Cousins
Senior Advanced Services Strategy Manager for Ricoh USA, Inc., Steve Cousins has more than 25 years experience working in technology and production operations at some of the largest print service providers in the US and UK. Steve joined Ricoh in 2016 and is responsible for developing and launching advanced, repeatable service offerings within Customer Communications Management and Mail Services.
 
 
1Christine J. Erna. "The True Economic Impact of Return Mail." https://mailingsystemstechnology.com/article-3339-The-True-Economic-Impact-of-Return-Mail.html
2Mary Shulzhenko. "The Real Cost of Losing Customers Due to Poor Customer Service (Infographic)." http://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/poor-customer-service/sales/?open-article-id=7359011&article-title=the-real-cost-of-losing-customers-due-to-poor-customer-service--infographic-&blog-domain=providesupport.com&blog-title=provide-support
3Khalid Saleh. "Customer Acquisition vs. Retention Costs – Statistics and Trends." https://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/
4Ibid