It is so frustrating to me when I see businesses make decisions that totally alienate their best customers. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the PCC (Postal Customer Council) meeting held at the Dalton St. Post Office here in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The focus of the meeting was the news, that had hit last week, announcing that the Cincinnati main post office was one of the 252 post offices that were being studied for potential closure.
What this could possibly mean for our customers is that with Cincinnati no longer being a BMEU (business mail entry unit), we would lose the current discount on postage that comes with having a BMEU in Cincinnati.
As if that news wasn’t disturbing enough, I had attended a meeting earlier this week put on by PIANKO, our industry association, where two gentlemen presented on EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) and the Direct Mail Hub. Both of these are programs of the United States Postal Service.
EDDM makes it possible for clients to by-pass their mail service providers for saturation mail by going online to the USPS site, purchasing/uploading mail lists, completing the paperwork and dropping everything off at the post office. Some of the mailers were not very concerned over this “toe” being dipped into our pool, because in typical post office fashion, the process was so complicated and confusing, that their clients called to request they handle it instead.
My concern is that this is the first step on a slippery slope. What happens if the post office gets a clue and makes the process less complicated and less confusing? Will those mailers then be concerned about the loss of their clients. Will the employees that will lose their jobs over a lack of work be concerned? I would think so.
And, talk about “suspect” activity – the post office uses the confidential information that we mailers are forced to provide to them on our customers. The USPS has hired a direct sales force that is then using that confidential information to call directly on our clients and educate them on how they don’t need us, but can use the EDDM and Direct Mail Hub.
Let me tell you about the Direct Mail Hub. Now, not only do your clients not need a mail service, they will no longer need a design firm to design the mail pieces nor a printing company to produce them. Yes, our USPS has built a web-to-print solution where clients can go to the Direct Mail Hub, design their direct mail piece, have it printed by one lucky printer who the USPS has contracted with, buy their mail list and hit “go”.
First class mail has done nothing more than decline over the past years, while pre-sort (the type of direct mail that companies like us produce and mail) has stayed somewhat stable. So, the USPS solution to their declining revenues is to directly compete with their best customers? Doesn’t make sense to me.
For some crazy reason, it makes more sense to me to right-size the USPS for the current level of mail they process. This means right-sizing the workforce. Currently, their union contracts prohibit them from doing this. Instead of developing a website to compete against your best customers, wouldn’t the time be better spent in negotiating with the unions, developing a strategy to improve your workflow and finding ways to cut out waste so that your revenue solution isn’t always to raise postage?