In every mailroom, there invariably lurks a pile of returned mail the Postal Service could not deliver. This issue, termed UAA (Undeliverable as Addressed) mail by the US Postal Service, usually pertains to First Class mail pieces returned to the sender (the USPS destroys undeliverable Marketing mail unless the mailer has requested otherwise). Being First Class mail, the contents of the returned envelopes are important. Resources were deployed and money was spent to produce and mail the items. The organization would like their bills, statements, or important notices to reach their customers. Regrettably, mail centers habitually stack this undeliverable mail in trays, pushing it to the side, and waiting for a time when someone is free to sort it out — a time which never seems to arrive. We've covered the challenges of dealing with returned mail before in this blog with articles such as: Finally Fix the Returned Mail Problem How to Finally Deal with Returned Mail Why Mail Centers Avoid Dealing with Returned Mail Based on conversations with Tritek customers, we can see the returned mail problem still exists. In some cases, it's getting worse and, in a few instances, the returned mail issue has become a full-fledged crisis. State health departments, in particular, currently find themselves buried under an unprecedented volume of UAA mail they can no longer ignore. Other organizations may not be facing the same challenges as the health departments, but this situation is a good example of how events can change things in a hurry, and it could happen again. Next time, it may affect your industry. Highly regulated businesses such as healthcare, insurance, and financial services are vulnerable, as they can be compelled to follow new rules and laws that govern their efforts to communicate with customers. How would your organization fare if you needed to write to thousands of people that had not received mail from you for several years? Much of that mail would probably come back to you. You would have to scramble to locate these people, correct their postal addresses, and re-mail the information. Why the Sudden Increase? 91 million people are qualified to receive Medicaid benefits. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimates indicate that 5 to 14 million individuals may lose their coverage across the nation because of Medicaid unwinding. Medicaid unwinding is a process where states withdraw Medicaid benefits from recipients. This occurs when a recipient is deemed no longer eligible for the benefits. During the COVID pandemic, the government suspended a requirement for individuals to re-qualify for Medicaid benefits periodically, but the waiver period has now expired. The Federal government has required the states to contact all their Medicaid enrollees. State health departments are now sending application materials to the enrollees. The states obviously want to stop providing benefits to individuals who no longer qualify for the aid. The problem is the health departments have not maintained contact with Medicaid enrollees. Many times, the last known address for an individual was updated in 2019. You might see how that can be an issue: People may have moved (some several times) Some people have died Some have increased their income to a level that disqualifies them for Medicaid A percentage of Medicaid enrollees is somewhat transient and may lack permanent addresses Regulatory Requirements for State Health Departments The task of locating Medicaid enrollees and documenting the search efforts falls to state health departments. This process is governed by a set of regulatory requirements, which consider an array of factors and complexities. The process of handling undeliverable mail and successfully distributing critical medical information includes the same steps any organization would take to attack their UAA mail backlog: Maintain Accurate Records: State health departments are tasked with maintaining correct and up-to-date records of Medicaid enrollees. Any changes in the enrollee’s contact information or status should be promptly updated to avoid returned mail. This maintenance duty is a continuous process and pivotal to the overall management of Medicaid enrollment. Initiate Location Attempts: If mail is returned, state health departments must carry out a systematic process to locate the enrollees. This involves various strategies, including cross-referencing with the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) file and other databases, reaching out to known associates or relatives, or even collaborating with private location services. Document Efforts Thoroughly: Every attempt to locate a Medicaid enrollee should be thoroughly documented for accountability and future reference. This includes details about the chosen strategy, steps taken, the response received, and how any subsequent action was performed, ensuring a transparent paper trail. Adherence to these requirements is not just a matter of formality, procedure, or compliance, but an obligation rooted in an ethical commitment to provide continual health coverage to eligible individuals. While Medicaid unwinding plays a part in the returned mail crunch, the solutions to address this problem are within reach. Adopt modern technology, revamp communication processes, and keep recipient databases up to date - these changes will not only reduce the onslaught of returned mail but also significantly improve mailing efficiency. Human Labor is Not the Answer Using human labor to handle the challenge of returned mail is futile - especially when volumes swell. In a time when companies are dealing with the daunting task of filling vacant positions, assigning employees to address the issues of returned mail is frequently not an option. Organizations initially taking a manual approach soon confront the manpower demands necessary to tackle this lengthy project. Employees devote time and effort to UAA mail only until other departmental needs arise, causing the project to grind to a halt. Interrupted and neglected, the process picks up intermittently whenever a window of availability emerges. With each passing delay, the piles of UAA mail continue to grow. The only practical solution lies in automation. Automated processes allow mail centers to manage UAA mail continuously, thereby effectively addressing and resolving this enduring problem. Automation to the Rescue Tritek’s Return Mail Solution has been helping organizations take on the UAA mail problem for years. One of the foremost challenges that emerge when amplifying the efficacy of returned mail handling through an automated approach is accommodating the physical variability of the mailpieces. The feeding and scanning hardware must accept any mail form, size, or thickness. Tritek's feeding and transport systems will handle all types of returned mail, be it letters, postcards, self-mailers, brochures, or flats. Cameras strategically positioned on the Tritek system obtain essential data from each mailpiece. The collected data includes specifics like the sending and return addresses, USPS reason-for-return stickers, permit numbers, and so on. Such data capture can be tricky, as details may be printed on either face of the mailpiece or in inconsistent orientation. However, the proven competence of the Tritek camera and data capture system ensures gathering of all relevant information from the mix of mail. Software deployed by Tritek uses customizable business rules to segregate mailpieces by department. These processes also include referencing resources such as the USPS National Change of Address file. Assessments made by the software rely on information sources that can range from logos, tag lines, or any other information presented on the mailpieces. It is crucial that the software and processing speed keep pace with the transport mechanism. The Tritek returned mail solution deposits the UAA mailpieces in the stipulated output bins. This enables the mail center staff to expedite mail delivery to the respective internal departments for further research and address correction in the customer databases. Fix This Problem Now As we have seen with the Medicare unwinding situation, failing to implement a system to process returned mail and correct addresses can catch organizations flat-footed and unprepared to deal with new needs and requirements. The standard operating procedure in many mail centers is to simply ignore the UAA mail. They lack the manpower and time necessary to ensure their organizations are ready, should new needs arise. The answer for most organizations is automation.
Universities build state-of-the-art research facilities and top-of-the-line athletic training complexes. Upgrading the mail center is rarely on their investment list though. Inter and intra-campus mail delivery does not attract highly recruited students or research grants, so understandably, mail services do not get the same budget allocations as plans for a new weight room. Nevertheless, educational institutions must take the importance of the mail into account. A campus mail center handles all the incoming and outbound communications between the college and its alums, donors, students, staff, and faculty. Along with email and telephone calls, the mail facility is a primary conduit to the outside world. The difference is that when an official, perhaps direction-changing document arrives, it often comes through the mail center. Without efficient and secure mail operations, an educational institution could miss opportunities to apply for grants or secure an endowment. Operating university mailrooms with equipment no longer suited for the job is a risk. It is also unnecessary. Affordable replacement technology is available. The College Campus Mail Center Model Has Changed Change is difficult in any organization, including within the university mail center. Barriers to change include employee resistance, ambiguity surrounding the benefits of change, and inadequate resources or equipment to implement the proposed improvements.Most campus mail center designs, policies, and processes are 50 years old. Mail workflows today are dramatically different and not supported by legacy methodology. Workflows have changed because of new technology, improving traditional methods, and accountability requirements. University mail centers must accommodate the transformation of the traditional mail stream. Transactional and social mail has declined rapidly while package volumes have grown exponentially. Higher education mail centers will reinvent themselves and embrace new technologies, including electronic mail delivery and management solutions. The “Mail Services” sign on the building will soon give way to the “Parcel, Printing, and Mail Service Center” or a similar description. The evolved mail room will distribute mail and packages to the campus community and offer outbound shipping and printing services. Campus Delivery is Now Campus Pickup Carriers, including the Postal Service, rarely deliver directly to campus locations. The possible exception is overnight and accountable items. The mail center is there to connect students and faculty with their items. Traditional campus mail systems collected mail and packages at a central site and distributed them campus-wide, including dorms, where mail may be sorted into personal mailboxes. A parcel shipment is kept behind the desk in a dormitory until the resident retrieves it. The chain of custody is lax at best. A different type of centralized approach is gaining traction nationwide. Today, carriers deliver to one building: the mail center. Students and staff receive an email or text to pick up their items. This workflow provides a tighter, more accountable chain of custody. The Mail Center Challenge The challenge for college mail centers is optimizing floor space while maintaining prompt notification of package or mail arrival. Like the USPS, a college mail center’s volume has shifted from letters to packages. Between 2009 and 2018, First Class Mail volume declined 31%, Marketing Mail volume declined 6%, while shipping and parcel volume increased 100%.1 That number is pre-COVID. Package volumes overwhelmed postal processing centers during the pandemic. Packages take up space and need manual handling. Knowing that mail is not going away anytime soon, how can colleges reduce mail's footprint to make room for boxes? The Mail Center Solution: The Tritek Oasis Inbound Mail Processing System Tritek’s Rule Editor software applies business rules to inbound mail. The editor determines which mail to open and scan. Some envelopes are only externally examined. The software directs envelopes and catalogs to bins for pickup. The mail processing hardware feeds the document, scans the front and back, opens the envelope, and gathers mail into collection bins. The Oasis Processing System helps campus mail centers overcome space and staffing constraints and provides notification in a safe and secure environment. For decades, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency for college campuses nationwide. The company understands the challenges faced by university mail center managers. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes biohazard screening, digital email delivery, database management, returned mail processing, inbound mail, presorted mail, and parcel processing. Their clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. 1 https://www.cato.org/cato-journal/fall-2019/restructuring-us-postal-service#usps-s-predicament
The next U.S. presidential election is not so far away. And, while administrational methodologies may change, the basic importance of verifying signatures and tabulating ballots is agnostic to county or jurisdiction. City and county offices, staffed by permanent employees, typically oversee the administration of elections. When Election Day approaches, these employees rely on temporary poll workers — sometimes called election workers or election judges — to assist with a variety of tasks. Recruitment efforts are underway for the estimated 1 million poll workers needed for the election cycle that culminates every four years in November. Yet finding volunteers to complete the manual tasks associated with democratic elections can be challenging in these divisive, polarizing times. In 2020, 775,000 poll workers staffed over 132,500 polling places nationwide, according to data gleaned from the Election Assistance Commission. Some 52% of election jurisdictions admitted difficulties in obtaining enough poll workers. Why? Because, despite state and federal laws that protect election officials (and voters), many people feel intimidated by political activists. Fearing for their personal safety, these citizens no longer wish to volunteer their time. Indeed, threats, politicization and violence around the election process have increased dramatically since 2020, reported the not-for-profit Brennan Center for Justice, a law and public policy institute at New York University School of Law. This past October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned that seven states continued to see unusual levels of threats to election workers. In past elections, groups concerned about widespread voter fraud sought to encourage volunteer poll workers to challenge voters and question routine election processes. Some workers have been accused of fraudulent activity themselves. The working environment became uncomfortable for some people who had functioned as election helpers for years. An individual’s personal views or political party affiliation notwithstanding, reports of such incidents can affect the availability of temporary employees needed at election time. So, what’s the United States to do if it no longer can recruit a dependable and diverse cadre of poll workers to help generate a democracy that more fairly represents all Americans? The answer is objective machine automation. Election offices nationwide already rely on automated equipment to save time, increase accuracy, and reduce labor costs. This technology has two major benefits: 1) Automation reduces the number of temporary workers required for staffing during elections, and 2) it frees up officials to spend less time on training–and more time optimizing the process. Voting by Mail (VBM) Trends The use of absentee ballots is a practice that has been in place for over 160 years, since the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, 46% of U.S. voters voted by mail in 2020, reported the Pew Research Center, and 33% did so in the 2022 mid-terms. With so many people now voting by mail, it is more imperative than ever that county election offices implement secure procedures for collecting, imaging, and sorting mail-in ballots. In the next elections, officials will work within legal guidelines to validate and count ballots received by mail and, in many cases, could use some help. Solutions are needed for handling mail-in ballots–either manually or by machines and software like those offered by trusted partners, such as Tritek Solutions. Using automated ballot-scanning machines can significantly reduce errors associated with manual processing and increase voter confidence. For example, Tritek’s ballot envelope-processing system features automation to fit specific needs, thus providing a targeted county office ballot solution that meets each municipality’s unique requirements. Our innovative Correct Elect system offers proprietary, vote-by-mail automation customized to voting-district requirements. The patented systems are proven in the field, having been successfully implemented in numerous cities and counties. With a processing speed of 10,000 to 30,000 per hour, this solution is ideal for jurisdictions that have higher volumes of vote by mail ballot envelopes. Additionally, the Nomad OCR (optical character recognition) document-scanning solution for elections can process up to 3,000 pieces per hour. As a mail-imaging machine, Nomad scans each piece, making it easy to store and archive digital copies. The mail scanner is portable and tabletop-sized, making it easy to move around and plug into any regular 120V AC outlet. Plus, its OCR technology enables it to read every single piece that passes through it, ensuring that nothing gets missed. Remember, whether cast in person or by mail, votes count for people determined to do their civic duties. During the coming election cycles, let Tritek help you employ robust technology to ensure that their ballots are tabulated fairly and accurately!
In today's business world, mailrooms are facing several challenges and one of the biggest is staffing. Seasoned employees are retiring, or they resign, seeking positions more aligned with revised personal priorities. Whatever the reasons, staffing the mailroom today can be difficult. The answer to this problem, as it is with many modern business issues, is technology. In corporate mailrooms, Tritek is the company businesses rely upon to provide the technology they need to handle their organization's new demands for incoming and outbound mail. Tritek offers a wide range of mailroom solutions, including equipment and software that can help mailrooms prepare outbound packages faster and route incoming mail more efficiently. More Work, Fewer People There’s no doubt about the remote working trend spurred by the pandemic being a lasting phenomenon. Companies were resistant at first but now recognize the advantages remote work can offer, and more employees are seeking fully remote or hybrid positions. Besides the effect work-from-home preferences have on the ability to recruit and retain mail center employees, a decentralized work force across the enterprise makes the mail center’s job more difficult. Company mail centers have operated with procedures that worked well for them for decades. Now, managing incoming and outbound business mail have become come logistical challenges for organizations that may handle thousands of mail pieces every month. Transitioning to a system that supports offsite employees, while continuing in their role as a hub for a company’s communications with the outside world, can be a real problem. Critical Business Processes Depend on Mail Some documents typically received in corporate mailrooms, such as legal notices, customer complaints, or last-minute claims documentation, require swift action. A system slowed by the limitations of physical distribution to a widely scattered group of recipients won’t do, especially when that system relied heavily on the knowledge and experience of mail center staffers who may no longer be employed by the organization. Automated Mail Processing Solutions Now that human-dependent legacy solutions are untenable, mailroom managers are turning to automation to bring their organizations up to speed with the rest of the business world. Mailroom automation has many advantages. Efficiency – Manual tasks such as scanning the mail, sorting, and routing can be accomplished by specialized hardware and software that can perform these operations quicker than humans, without taking breaks, getting sick, or going on vacation. Accuracy – Cameras and software for text and image recognition have advanced to the point that systems, such as those offered by Tritek, can read nearly any text regardless of skew or orientation, whether typed, computer-printed, or written by hand. Systems to sort outbound mail or process incoming pieces are less likely to make errors compared to human mailroom staffers. Security – Business rules and permission levels embedded in document processing systems can prevent sensitive information from being seen by unauthorized individuals. Mail pieces can be tracked and accounted for. Compliance with privacy laws can be controlled. Lower Cost – The labor savings are obvious, especially when considering the extra work necessary to correct mis-routed inbound mail, or extra postage if outbound mail is not optimized to take advantage of all the postage discounts the USPS offers. Automated mailroom solutions also offer organizations the opportunity to find and correct previously unrecognized inefficiencies that may never have come to light in a manually dependent operation. Automated systems can collect and report data about mail volumes, throughput, shift performance, mail piece status, and more. Ideal Time to Upgrade Many of Tritek’s clients have been challenged to continue managing their corporate and university mail centers since the pandemic. The changes in the employment market have only made matters worse. Mail centers do not always share in the technology and innovation investments companies have made in other areas of the business, but the time has come to do some upgrades. An updated, technology driven mail center will be more attractive to job candidates who may view mail processing as “old school”. Investing in mailroom automation solutions now is a good long-term strategy for supporting the requirements of modern businesses. Learn More About Automated Mail Processing: Pandemic Increases Inbound Parcel Obligations Robots In Your Mailroom? The Future of Mailroom Automation The Changing Role of Corporate Mailrooms
Spending on technologies and services that enable the digital transformation (DX) of businesses approached the $2 trillion mark in 2022, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC). One of the best places for an organization to jumpstart its DX is its mailroom — the main point of entry for documents. An inordinate number of documents still arrive at the office in paper form, making mailrooms one of the most manual-intensive areas of most corporations. That’s because most physical mailroom “silos” operate outdated, inefficient workflows. Corporate mailrooms are responsible for much of the incoming and outbound messaging between an organization and its customers, suppliers, regulatory authorities, and other entities. Yes, some of that communication has transitioned to electronic delivery, but most companies still process a healthy volume of physical mail every day. “On-premise mailrooms are slow, error prone and require too much labor and valuable real estate,” contends David Winkler, a contributor to Entrepreneur.com. “Not to mention [that] they simply cannot support today's ‘new world of work.’” Due to such inefficiencies, companies lose between 20% and 30% in annual revenue, IDC reports. Outdated manual mail processing procedures can have a negative effect on high visibility corporate objectives like customer experience and regulatory compliance. An emphasis on automation and new technologies, combined with changes prompted by remote and hybrid workplace environments, are encouraging companies to seek better ways of dealing with incoming mail. Automation in the mailroom means taking some of the human-based decision-making, routing, transporting, and tracking tasks associated with inbound mail and assigning them to specialized hardware and software. Automation allows the mailroom to process more mail with fewer employees while simultaneously speeding delivery. Tritek’s Digital Mail Solution Digital mail delivery converts incoming paper mail into digital form. Instead of waiting for once-a-day courier delivery of physical mail items, employees can receive documents at their workstations electronically. Recognizing the popularity of a modern mobile workforce, a digital mail system delivers mail to employees whether their office is on site, at a satellite location, at home, or on the road. An automated solution such as this creates a digital record tracking the progress and documenting the history and delivery method for each mail piece. With the simplest form of incoming mail automation, known as advance notification, employees receive an email with a link to the digital image of each physical mail piece addressed to them. Advance notification will inform employees about the physical mail they will receive hours before the corporate mailroom delivers it. With the next level of automation, employees decide on the disposition of each of their mail pieces. They can choose to have the piece scanned and emailed to them, have it physically delivered, or ask the mailroom to destroy it. The Tritek Oasis sorter can scan up to 10,000 pieces per hour in this manner, with a single operator. Watch a short video about Tritek’s Oasis email delivery solution here. Our Digital Mail Solutions According to the Rule Book Companies regularly receive mail they must always handle in a certain way. The Tritek digital mail system uses rules to process those pieces automatically by identifying them during the scanning operation. Bill payments, for instance, may always be sent to Accounts Receivable, orders might be scanned and emailed to Fulfillment. At an insurance company, some documents may go to Underwriting while others to Claims Processing. Processing mail using the Tritek Rules Editor software decreases the need for individual employees to make piece-by-piece decisions about how to handle the mail. Some rules might cover situations such as: Which types of mail are always opened, scanned, and routed electronically by mail center staff? What mail stays sealed and forwarded to the addressee? How is marketing mail handled? Tackling Today’s Business Challenges Automated incoming mail handling solves three problems for businesses. The risk associated with the organization’s reliance on key mailroom employees. Most mailrooms still manually delivering mail rely on key staffers who know the employees working in each department. Their memories help them distribute mail accurately to an individual when it comes addressed to a predecessor in the employee’s department. This knowledge is often augmented with sticky tabs or a notebook full of hand-written instructions. Delivering time-sensitive documents to a remote or semi-remote workforce. COVID-19 changed the corporate landscape for lots of companies. They have either embraced the concept of remote or hybrid workplaces or grudgingly accepted remote working as a factor necessary for attracting and retaining the most talented workers. But they still need to facilitate efficient communication throughout the organization. Staffing shortages in the mailroom. In many companies, vacancies in the mailroom have been difficult to fill. Automating inbound mail reduces the amount of tedious manual work, allowing organizations to reallocate talent or operate the department with a lower headcount. Automation is the Answer Corporate mailrooms are the lifeblood of their organizations. They play a critical role in company operations, contributing to key company goals like improving the customer experience and complying with regulations. The growing trend of remote and hybrid work environments makes incoming mail distribution more challenging, prompting mailrooms to embrace technologies and automation to keep pace. Tritek Technologies has offered their patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency to companies since 1984. The Tritek Mail Forwarding System works with a variety of Tritek equipment, allowing companies to choose the solution size that best meets their needs to deliver important documents to their employees, regardless of where they work. Tritek’s family of mail center automation solutions includes inbound mail sorting, imaging and archiving of mailed documents, parcel sorting, digital mail delivery, and the industry-leading Correct Elect Vote-By-Mail technology. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Related Resources: Getting Inbound Mail to the Right Place (the first time) How to Digitally Deliver Incoming Mail How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations
Vote by mail is here to stay for the U.S. electorate. Despite polarizing opinions about mail-in ballots, recent elections have demonstrated the popularity of this voting method. Analysts from every position on the political spectrum agree that mail-in voting affects election outcomes. We also know that delayed election results breed unfounded suspicion about election integrity. To speed up the process, election officials are turning to automation and technology. Before Tabulation Before ballot envelopes are even opened, they must be sorted by precinct and pass the prescribed signature verification steps. Tritek’s patented technology automates these processes. Our solutions allow the ballots to enter the counting process quicker while building an audit trail that includes time-stamped images of every ballot that passes through the system. Our patented Correct Elect Vote by Mail technology drives solutions custom designed and built for each entity’s requirements. Tritek evaluates variables such as floor space requirements, volume fluctuations, and ballot designs to help customers acquire the combination of software and hardware that matches their needs. Defining Vote by Mail Mail balloting systems come in two varieties. The first is what some states call universal “vote by mail,” where the state government mails ballots to all voters. In most states, however, voting by mail is through absentee balloting, where the voter must request an absentee ballot. Despite partisan fears, research suggests neither party gains an advantage via mail-in voting. There is no evidence that mail ballots increase electoral fraud and several anti-fraud protections are built into the process. Though they came to the forefront during the COVID pandemic, mail-in voting was already gaining popularity. In 2016, nearly one-quarter of U.S. votes (33 million) were cast by either universal mail or absentee ballots.1 What is Automated Ballot Processing? Automated ballot processing uses hardware and software technologies to verify, sort, and tabulate mailed-in paper ballots instead of manually verifying and counting votes. Computerized technology is cheaper, faster, and more accurate than manual counting. It also improves the voting process by making complex electoral systems easier to use. With automated ballot processing, election offices can offer better security and faster results. The Need for Speed With automated ballot processing, election offices can increase citizen trust because technology is impartial. Voters can trust that election workers are custodians of important information and work in the community’s interests. Any improvements election officials can make to speed the announcement of results while maintaining the integrity of the process is positive. Trust declines if uncertainty about election winners linger. It is necessary to count ballots quickly for several reasons: Ensuring the accuracy of the election results: The quicker a jurisdiction can complete the ballot count, the faster they can announce the election results. Rapid processing helps ensure correct and reliable results, as automated systems identify errors or irregularities more quickly. Maintaining public confidence in the electoral process: When counties count ballots quickly, it prevents the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories that could undermine public confidence in the electoral process. People are more likely to trust the results that are announced promptly and transparently. Allowing for a smooth transition of power: When a change of leadership occurs, such as in a presidential election, counting the ballots quickly helps ensure a smooth and timely transition of power. Immediate processing is vital for maintaining political stability, continuity, and avoiding potential disputes or conflicts resulting from delayed information. Meeting legal requirements and deadlines: Election officials must meet some legal requirements and deadlines for the election results to be valid. A speedy count ensures they meet these requirements, and the election results are accurate and legally binding. In short, quickly counting votes is essential for ensuring the accuracy and legitimacy of election results. Speedy processing helps maintain public confidence in the electoral process, facilitates a smooth transition of power, and meets legal requirements and deadlines. Learn More About Automated Vote by Mail Processing: Why Election Officials Are Expecting a Surge in Vote-By-Mai How Does Automated Ballot Processing Work? Why Manual Ballot Handling is Not Enough Anymore www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/how-does-vote-by-mail-work-and-does-it-increase-election-fraud/
Mailers should expect postage rates to increase twice a year for the foreseeable future. They should take every step possible to minimize the impact of postage rate hikes. Some strategies include taking advantage of postal promotions, improving address accuracy, and postal presorting. What Does the Postal Service Do? This question may be a blinding flash of the obvious. Ask anyone; the USPS delivers mail. As much as the Postal Service is the preeminent delivery organization, they are equally adept at sorting mail. From dropping a birthday card in a blue mail receptacle in Key West, Florida, to delivering it in time for the party in Hope Point, Alaska, the sorting effort is staggering. Whenever the Post Office touches a piece of mail, it costs money. If you sort your mail before delivering it to the dock at the Postal facility, you qualify for a postage discount. Sorting before induction into the mailstream is called “presorting.” Of course, the USPS has rules and requirements for preparing mail for acceptance. The good news is hardware and software technology make presorting discounts available to almost any mailing organization. Sort the Good Americans change addresses at an astounding rate. Over 15% of the country’s population moves each year. Additionally, the Postal Service realigns ZIP and ZIP+4 Codes as the population shifts and because of new construction. Inaccurate address information has a knack for infiltrating your mailing list because of data entry errors and list corruption. For a postal presort to be valid, mailers must update and correct addresses. A “clean” address is necessary for the USPS presort discount programs. Two well-known postal programs that ensure deliverable mail include: CASS-Certified™ address standardization. This application corrects misspellings, directionals (north, south, east, west), and suffixes (drive, street, circle). It verifies the address, updates the ZIP Code, and adds the ZIP+4 code. Today, a machine reads the delivery address more often than a human, so everything needs to be correct. Software calculates the postal barcode from this information. The National Change of Address™ (NCOA) move updating program. Software providers and internet services offer a cost-effective NCOA service to update recently moved residences and businesses. Sorting and MASS™ Certification Throughout processing, sortation hardware scans the address block of each piece of mail, searching for address information or the postal barcode. The scanning process is highly flexible. The address does not have to be in a consistent location on the envelope or flat. It can be on either side of the mail piece. As the mail travels down a conveying track, the equipment diverts mailpieces to the appropriate bins for the presort schema based on the ZIP Code and other address data. The correspondence is moved from the bins to mail trays already sorted and ready for the post office at a reduced postage rate. The sorting hardware continues to process mail during loading and unloading. There is no reason to stop working. The USPS certifies sorting hardware to sort based on postal standards and print clean, accurate postal barcodes on the mailpieces. The MASS™ certification extends the CASS™ software certification system mentioned earlier. The USPS and the mailing industry cooperated to design the process to improve the accuracy of postal codes. MASS™ certification is mandatory for mailers using sorting hardware to print delivery point barcodes (DPBCs) on mail pieces submitted for mailing at discounted automation rates. Presort Mail with Automation Mail Manifesting Mail sortation hardware often offers the benefit of mail manifesting. A manifest mailing system enables a mailer to document postage and fees for all pieces in a mailing paid via permit imprint. One significant advantage of manifesting is it qualifies mailers to pay for nonidentical weight pieces with a permit imprint. Other benefits of manifesting include: Automated documentation provides easily maintained mailing records. Convenience of paying by permit imprint. There is no need to affix stamps or meter strips. Combine different classes of mail on the same manifest. From Tritek Technologies Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek's outbound mail processing equipment and software allow organizations to weigh, label, manifest, barcode, print reports, and build trays and bundles. Our expanding menu of mail services includes Biohazard Screening, Digital Email Delivery, Database Management, Returned Mail Processing, Inbound Mail, Presorted Mail, and Parcel Processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Learn More Mail Processing Tips: How to Presort Mail (And Why You Should) How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations How to Solve the Returned Mail Challenge
When companies consider customer experience (CX) initiatives, they rarely focus on postal mail. Websites, mobile apps, and chatbots get the most attention. But for most companies, communication through the mail is still a vital component of the overall customer relationship. Today we will consider how efficient outbound mail processing, inbound processing, and returned mail processing affect the total customer experience. Customer Engagement Customer engagement is how an organization communicates and interacts with its customers or constituents. Interactions occur through a variety of channels as a way to build that relationship. Robust customer engagement means: High rates of customer retention Increases in sales revenue Improved brand loyalty and trust Growth in brand awareness Memorable customer experiences Amplified customer feedback and insight Authentic customer engagement requires a strategy based on your customer’s wants, needs, and communication preferences. Direct Mail as Part of the Customer Experience Marketers are increasingly adding direct mail to their media mix, as mail is far more effective than electronic media for communicating with customers and prospects. A recent survey showed that 84 percent1 of marketing managers believe that direct mail improves advertising campaign performance. Like online marketing strategies, direct mail can also target customers at each stage of their buying journey, from brand discovery to retaining satisfied customers. With 56 percent of people believing that print advertising is trustworthy, businesses may consider it a better way to contact prospects.2 Much of that trust comes from direct mail’s tangibility. It can be touched, interacted with, and saved. Electronic messages are fleeting, while paper messages have permanence. The most significant appeal of direct mail is that it can be personalized in hundreds of ways. Customers are more likely to engage with your business if they know the content is created just for them. “Wow, my name is everywhere in this flyer, and these coupons are for stuff I buy!” That is a positive customer experience. Making Mail Work in Your Customer Experience Initiative Timely Outbound Mail One reason email and electronic media are attractive to marketers is the time from idea to “in-the-mail” is short compared to other channels. A marketer can react to market conditions with an email and send it to their customer base within minutes, if needed. It takes longer to develop and print a direct mail piece, but nothing compared to a few years ago. Companies can design and publish a mail piece in hours. Outbound mail processing technology can apply postage and presort the mail for postal discounts and accelerated delivery, allowing mail that was printed to enter the mailstream the same day. Outbound mail equipment is one arrow in the marketer's quiver to get communications in the mail stream rapidly. Companies can react to market conditions or share critical consumer information through a channel that gets their customer’s attention. One of the best customer experiences is receiving a relevant and timely offer or communication. With outbound mail processing technology as part of the communication workflow, an organization can provide a memorable experience consistent with interactions customers have with the company online, on the phone, or in-store. Inbound Mail Processing Customers today demand an immediate response to mail sent to an organization. This includes posted checks and payments. People trust the mail. They know a letter dropped at the Post Office will make it to the addressee on time. The USPS has published delivery standards that they meet 93 or 94 percent of the time. The onus of mail delivery is as much on the receiving organization as on the Postal Service. Processing payments and application forms the day they are received provides an excellent customer experience using the mail. Immediate processing of inbound mail is a snap with inbound mail processing equipment. A chain of custody begins when mail enters the receiving organization. When a customer calls wondering about the status of their mailed application, request, or payment, the inbound mail tracking data allows customer service representatives to provide updated information. Returned Mail Processing When people move, they have a million things on their minds. Changing their address with everyone they do business with is probably not one of them. When the USPS returns mail because of the move, it is essential to process the return quickly. Find the new address and get the mail out to the customer. Returned mail processing equipment makes this process automated, so the customer receives the mail without further delay. Tritek’s Contributions to Customer Experience Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes biohazard screening, digital email delivery, returned mail processing, inbound mail, presorted mail, and parcel processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. When considering customer experience improvement strategies, don’t forget about the mail. For many companies, documents customers send and receive through the mail ARE the experience, unless they have a special need or a problem. Every step in the mail handling process contributes to how customers perceive the organization. It pays to ensure those important customer interactions that occur through the mail flow smoothly through the organization. 1 https://martechseries.com/sales-marketing/marketing-automation/report-84-of-marketers-state-direct-mail-improves-multichannel-campaign-performance/ 2 https://theagencyltd.net/the-new-direct-mail/
Will mailroom robotics someday route the mail? While the short answer is, “probably not anytime soon,” the reality is that, in the not-too-distant future, robots could play a role in routing or delivering employee mail at corporate mailrooms. Industrial robots have already made inroads within several industries, including some aspects of postal mail production and distribution. Back in 2011, ADM Automation rolled out its iCart material-handling vehicle capable of operating around a mailroom without an operator. (The AGV device is distributed by mailing equipment provider Kern.) Five years ago, FedEx Corp. began using Savioke’s (now Relay Robotics) autonomous, mobile-delivery robots to essentially take the place of mailroom clerks. However, the slick tech has yet to go fully mainstream. Some manufacturers already deploy automated robotics to feed mail trays and pallets. Ricoh and Starship Technologies teamed up at the MAILCOM ’19 trade show to explore what it would take to use and service robots in mail, distribution, fulfillment, and warehouse applications. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, mail fulfillment and parcel shipments have grown. Just think about all the online shopping orders delivered in the past three years that required boxes with shipping labels. Companies are looking for ways to handle the increased volumes without adding to the staff. Though they don’t need sick days and benefits which make them attractive alternatives, don't expect mechanical workers to replace your corporate mail center employees tomorrow. That said, most mail centers could do with some automation, and some of the available technology is impressive. Time = $ “The old adage that ‘time is money in business’ has never been truer,” says Jack Noonan, VP of business development at the PRINTING United Alliance trade association. The time to money ratio is where high-speed sorting from firms such as Tritek Technologies comes into play. (Noonan once ran a company in Central Florida that used Tritek’s sorters.) Economies of scale apply to high-volume mailers in vertical markets such as financial/insurance, governments (think vote by mail during the recent election cycle), healthcare/pharma, and higher education. “If you’re responsible for millions or billions of pieces of mail, a lot of money stands to be lost if operations don’t run as efficiently as possible,” he notes. “People are trying to get [save] fractions of pennies on each piece.” Tritek’s lineup of sorting equipment and software is also beneficial to organizations with smaller volumes. Those entities can choose small footprint solutions that solve their mail distribution challenges without occupying a tremendous portion of their limited office space. For the ultimate in space-saving mail solutions, check out the Tritek Mobile Ace Workstation. “Streamlining the feeding and finishing processes is key to preparing today’s mail pieces for shipment, distribution and delivery,” adds Noonan, who spent 10 years working with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on the Intelligent Mail Barcode. A self-described “Post Office geek,” he is very familiar with related mailing technologies, such as Tritek’s intuitive software and its corresponding algorithms. This technology offers ways to automate traditionally manual operations for in-plant mailrooms, such as sorting inbound mail to courier routes according to business rules and current employee locations. Automating Inbound Mail Tritek’s digital mail delivery solutions aren’t mechanical robots, but they can solve part of the mail-forwarding dilemma when it comes to relocated employees or those working remotely. Automated digital mail delivery is the answer. With digital delivery, mail center staff opens employee mail when instructed, scans it, and then forwards PDFs to the addressee’s email. Digital mail delivery gets inbound mail to the intended recipients faster and less expensively than manual delivery via a courier crew. Vote by Mail Tritek’s ballot processing solutions feature patented vote-by-mail technology. Our vote-by-mail solutions are built to meet each municipalities’ specific requirements according to floor space consideration, volume fluctuations, and types of ballot designs. Our Correct Elect technology is proven at county election offices, nationwide. We hold the exclusive patent on the ballot method and apparatus to provide a full audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting. Learn More About Mail Processing Automation: Mailroom Automation to The Rescue for Businesses How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations How The Role of Corporate Mailrooms is Changing
Campus mail center employees spend most of their time sorting incoming mail and attempting to deliver it to recipients scattered over a large geographical area. This is especially true now that many students and instructors are studying or teaching from home. Automated, rules-based sortation and electronic mail delivery can slash a university’s dependence on mail center staffers while simultaneously speeding up mail delivery. A student’s residence is often difficult to pin down, especially when they move to off-campus housing. That challenge increased dramatically with the remnants of COVID-19 still with us and at-home learning. Delivering to faculty, staff, and students is a guessing game, yet packages and mail continue to arrive. The key to keeping the campus mail center functioning is automation. Here are five factors motivating campus mail center administrators to seek automated mail delivery solutions for the educational institutions they serve. Space Challenges The dilemma for college mail centers is optimizing floor space while maintaining timely notification of package or mail arrival. Volume is shifting from letters to packages. Packages take up space and need manual handling. Knowing that mail is not going away anytime soon, how can colleges reduce mail’s footprint to make room for packages, yet still process correspondence? Automated inbound sortation technology is flexible enough to process mixed-weight mail, parcels, flats, and postcards. The equipment can enable more efficient package storage and retrieval while optimizing the space allocated to the facility. Digital Mail Replacing Hard Copy Digital delivery of hard copy postal mail is gaining wide acceptance in corporate mail centers. For businesses, digital mail delivery automates manual sorting and delivery. Corporate inbound mail is repetitive. It is usually a form or a standard response. Once opened, automated processes scan the envelope’s contents and send images electronically to the appropriate employee, even if the name on the envelope no longer matches the person holding the position. The automated system captures the recipient’s name and other information from the envelope and software looks up the employee’s email address. Cameras scan the front and back of the envelopes, date-stamp them, and send the images to the recipients.College mail differs from private business mail. However, much of the same technology now adopted by businesses can be effectively deployed to serve the students, professors, and staff at a college. University mail is personal. An envelope could contain a card from home with 20 dollars secretly folded inside. If it has a First-Class stamp, the mail center cannot open it.Rule editor software uses business rules created by university privacy administrators to control what mail the mail center can open and what stays sealed. The automated system scans the front and back of the envelopes and sends images to student phones. They can pick up their mail at any time. Staffing Challenges The Printing Industries of America reported that 30%-50% of skilled workers in the industry will retire in less than ten years. Replacing these workers is a challenge. Vocational schools are not producing graduates with traditional print and mail processing skills. Hiring employees in any capacity is a struggle. Finding workers with an understanding of mail processing is rare. College mail centers must adopt automated inbound mail and parcel sorting to make up for the lack of staff. Centralization At most colleges, mail and parcel management is moving toward centralization. The traditional model is delivery directly to a dorm or office where staffers sort the mail into personal mailboxes. Dormitories, keep packages behind the desk until residents retrieve them. The chain of custody is lax. Today, the common carriers deliver to one building: the mail center. Students and staff receive an email or text to pick up their items. The Face of Mail Has Changed Legacy campus mail center designs, policies, and processes are not equipped to accommodate the transformation of the traditional mail stream. The demand for transactional and social mail has declined rapidly, while package volumes have grown exponentially. Higher education mail centers will reinvent themselves and embrace new technologies, such as alternative delivery and management solutions. Eventually, the nomenclature will change. The “mail center” will be known as the “service center” or a similar description. The evolved mail room will provide distribution of mail and packages to the campus community and also offer outbound shipping and printing services. Tritek’s Inbound Mail Processing Systems for Universities Customers use the Tritek rule editor software to apply business rules to inbound mail. The rules determine which mail to open and scan. Some envelopes are only externally scanned. The software directs envelopes and catalogs to bins for pickup. Our solution also includes the hardware. The hardware feeds, scans front-and-back, opens the envelope, and gathers mail into collection bins. Tritek’s line of mail and parcel sorters helps campus mail centers overcome space and staffing constraints and provides notification in a safe and secure environment. Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes biohazard screening, digital email delivery, database management, returned mail processing, inbound mail, presorted mail, and parcel processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment.