DENVER, Oct. 15 - The Mailing Industry Task Force, co-chaired by Pitney Bowes Chairman and CEO Michael J. Critelli and U.S. Postal Service Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan, today issued its initial recommendations for a course of action for the industry at the National Postal Forum in Denver, CO. The report outlines actions to increase the effectiveness of mail by unifying the industry to focus on products and service improvements that make the mail more competitive and responsive to evolving customer needs.
"While mail continues to be very important to and desired by users, the members of the Task Force have collectively identified a number of ways to make mail an even more powerful communications tool than it is today,'' said Critelli. "The mail has always been the backbone of business and consumer communications. Increasing and simplifying user access to an expanded set of powerful, cost-effective products and services will give customers the added flexibility and value they are seeking.''
"The mailing industry is a $900 billion market employing 9 million people, representing nearly 8 percent of the domestic Gross National Product,'' said Nolan. "We want to leverage its economic power to help grow the nation's business and make this critical sector of the economy even more vital. Implementing these recommendations can help make this a reality.''
The Task Force recommendations center around three imperatives to respond to customer needs, make the mail channel more competitive and unify the mailing industry.
The report suggested initiatives to develop standards and systems to help make every letter mailpiece unique, identifiable and trackable, just as packages are trackable today. The Postal Service could add new value to mail by leveraging barcode technology to enable mailers and recipients to track individual mailpieces, developing performance measurement tools for large volumes of mail, and giving mailers tools to achieve delivery predictability.
A vital concern to the industry is greater efficiency to keep the mail more competitive. Preparation standardization and network optimization initiatives were offered including standardizing mail preparation, entry and containerization requirements. Noting that pricing is also a competitive issue, the report offered industry recommendations for a streamlining of the rate-making process, contract pricing options and predictable rate increases. "While some things can be done today, the industry also needs to unite behind postal reform legislation to achieve this,'' noted Critelli.
Another concern of the industry was the development of more flexible and efficient payment systems. The report recommended one-source access and tracking of all postal financial payments, and flexible payment options with web-based verification and acceptance.
The report also addressed the need for enhanced consumer services, suggesting significant increase in points of access for both sending and receiving mail, including access at work. "With over 70 percent of all consumers characterizing mail as vital, the mail has a strong future,'' said Critelli. "We need to focus on providing more information, improving access, and lowering costs to better meet the changing needs of customers.''
"We've already begun implementing some of the recommendations made today,'' said Nolan. "We expanded our CONFIRM program this month to enhance mailers' ability to track their mail, and have begun implementing plans to optimize the distribution network. We've also begun a pilot test of the mail-at-work proposal and the Automated Postal Centers for placement at alternative sites.''
"The title of our progress report is 'Seizing Opportunity,''' said Critelli. "To accomplish this, the mailing industry must unite to keep mail competitive in this technology-driven economy. The Task Force believes these recommendations will keep the mail growing and make it more innovative and cost-effective for customers.''
The Task Force also agreed to continue to meet to address other issues and assess additional possible recommendations, and report on those findings at the Spring 2002 National Postal Forum in San Diego.
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