US Postal Service in financial tatters! Striata urges companies to switch from the mailbox to the inbox

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Email is ready and able to replace the envelope and post stamp – and it's way cheaper.

The facts are obvious. Mail volumes are decreasing and the USPS is in financial tatters, so it's time businesses actively move to email as an alternative document delivery channel.

The US Postal Service is in trouble. It recently announced no more Saturday delivery of letters and magazines as of August 1, 2013. The figures tell the story: Loss of $15.9 billion in the last budget year (1,3) and default on $11 billion retiree health benefits prepayments in 2012 (1,2,3) . This will no doubt affect businesses that rely on timely delivery for bills, statements, policies, notices and other documents. Email is ready and able to replace the envelope and post stamp – and it's way cheaper.

Chad Somodi, National Sales Manager at Striata, says, "The facts are obvious. Mail volumes are decreasing and the USPS is in financial tatters, so it's time businesses actively move to email as an alternative document delivery channel. Sending documents directly to customers' email inbox best replicates the service the USPS provides in the paper world, and it's what customers expect."    

The Postal Service can't borrow more money from Congress to save itself, because it reached its debt limit in 2012. Without a solution by October 2013, USPS CFO Joseph Corbett warns the service could go bankrupt. (3)

Somodi questions, "If the Postal Service disappeared this October, how would companies continue to deliver these important communications to their customers?"

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: eDocuments via website portal?

Nearly every utility, bank, insurer and lender has a customer website portal. An online location where customers can register, choose a username and password, and then interact with the company for self-service options.

Somodi points out that to gain access to electronic documents on website portals, customers are required to login and “fetch” them. When an average household with at least seven or eight supplier relationships is considered – this equates to the same number of unique username/password combinations to remember and seven or eight websites to visit and navigate to get the documents. It’s no wonder that ‘password fatigue’ is a recognized psychological term. "How does this replicate the ease of receiving paper mail at home?" questions Somodi.

According to Somodi, business costs for supporting the high call center volumes associated with lost passwords must also be taken into consideration. "Call costs can eliminate the paperless savings a company would have earned. Plus payment by the customer has yet to take place, as they are not logged in."

"Registering on a website is like having to open a PO Box at the post office. In both cases, customers’ documents don't get sent directly to them. Instead they are sent to a secure holding facility where a key or password is needed to retrieve them. If only a fraction of Americans have a PO Box, one can expect only a fraction of customers to go paperless through business’ websites." The actual rates are likely worse than expected. After almost a decade of offering eDocument retrieval at their websites, here are the paperless adoption rates for various industries as of December 2011 (4).

  • Insurance 8%         * Utility 12%         * Mortgage 16%         * Cable 18%         * Credit Cards 20%

More than 80% of US households still receive all their documents through the USPS.(4)

BETTER SOLUTION: eDocument delivery via email

According to Exact Target, 91% of online consumers check their email inbox daily. A smartphone owner is now more likely to use the device for email than a phone call (5).

"The email inbox is a digital mailbox that can be accessed anywhere and at anytime. So, why don't companies send documents directly to their customers' email inbox? Wouldn't that best replicate the service the USPS provides in the paper world?" asks Somodi.

There are many companies who have already adopted this device agnostic strategy with success. Using encrypted PDF technology and email as the delivery mechanism, some of the biggest brands around the globe are delivering exact replicas of bills, statements, policies or notices directly to customer inbox. Customers can be authenticated and enrolled without ever having to register at a website. In addition, usernames and passwords are not necessary to access these documents. Without any additional work, a customer can go paperless via a process that actually mirrors what the USPS does on a daily basis.

The move from paper to email also brings added value, as the secure PDFs can be fully interactive, allowing customers to make a payment, change personal information, or link to a website directly from the PDF. No more paper, much faster payments, and a superior customer experience.

"It's a no-brainer: Email inbox - the obvious replacement for the postbox," concludes Somodi.

References:

1. Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?
2. Understanding the Post Office’s Benefits Mess
3. USPS Cutting Saturday Mail Delivery
4.eBilling Benchmarking Study by Blueflame Consulting sponsored by NACHA 2011
5. Smartphone owners more likely to read emails than make calls: stats

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Tamara Hanley
Striata 1
+44 207 268 3941
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Alison Treadaway
Striata
+27 11 530 9600
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