Digital Mail: Solve Returned-Mail Woes

If you missed them, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 in our series on the Digital Mailroom

For a corporate mailroom, standard incoming mail is a snap to handle, particularly if there is some level of automation in place. Mail can be quickly sorted, scanned, and distributed to the correct department.

Returned mail, on the other hand, poses a substantial challenge. The USPS can return a piece of mail for a number of reasons. Sometimes there’s a forwarding address; sometimes there isn’t. Evaluating those “yellow sticker” mail pieces, finding a new address for the addressee, and then resending the mail can cost as much as $3 per piece and significantly higher costs in financial services and healthcare environments where compliance and security issues abound.

On average, over 4.5 percent of all mail is returned as Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) each year., but those costs can quickly add up for high-volume mailing operations. Returned mail also sucks up an enormous amount of manual labor which can lead to late or missed payments, lost correspondence, and even compliance violations.

A digital mailroom solution can help reduce or eliminate those costs. OPEX customers often struggle with returned-mail processing. That’s why we developed a returned-mail solution with software partner CPT Intelligent Technologies. With our scanners and CPT’s software, users can quickly determine the reason for a return, scan the document contents, and initiate a database lookup to update addresses. That makes it easier to resend the mail to the correct address (or eliminate the addressee from the database entirely) and reduce subsequent returns.

Lake Michigan Mailers has successfully deployed this solution for its customers. The company provides document creation, mail processing, and data management solutions to a variety of schools, healthcare providers, and government agencies.

“We do a lot of ‘recall notice’ processing,” says David Rhoa, president of Lake Michigan Mailers. “Depending on what government agency is involved, they want to know if you sent the recall notice to the customer and why that notice was returned. With the OPEX/CPT solution, we can capture that yellow sticker information and feed it back to our client to show them who has not been notified and what they can do about it. Before this, our clients manually entered that data, and it took weeks or even months to complete.”

The company’s customers are saving as much as 30 hours per week by eliminating manual returned-mail processing.

Using technology and automation to streamline returned-mail processing can also pay big dividends in other ways. TMG Health, a business process outsourcing specialist for insurers, health plans, and providers, reported a savings of $750,000 using the CPT/OPEX returned-mail processing solution.

TMG’s employees previously had to manually open and key-enter data about returned mail. With automated extraction and scanning, combined with OCR for AnyDoc, the solution was able to determine the identity of the addressee, type of document, forwarding address, and why the mail was returned in the first place.

This ability to more efficiently and effectively process returned mail can be a significant benefit of the transition to a digital mailroom. Mark Smith, OPEX’s Director of Strategic Alliances, outlined how the returned-mail solution could contribute a substantial amount to the return on investment (ROI) of a digital mailroom deployment in an interview published last year in the Document Imaging Report.

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