Finally Fix the Returned Mail Problem

Graphic - buried in returned mail
Written by Tritek Blog on September 30, 2022 in Uncategorized

Stored somewhere in every mail center is an accumulation of mail that was undeliverable as addressed. The US Postal Service calls this UAA mail and returns such First Class pieces to the sender. Often, mail centers stack this mail in trays and shove it aside until someone has time to work on it–which never happens.

UAA mail affects businesses in several ways:

  1. Returned mail may contain sensitive personal information. Storing large quantities of such mail for long periods of time can present a security risk.
  2. Mail that never gets delivered causes companies to lose contact with their customers and prospects, affecting future sales.
  3. Companies that create too many undeliverable-as-addressed mailpieces may be subject to USPS fines, fees, or penalties.
  4. For billing applications, returned mail represents unpaid invoices that trigger cancellation or collection activities–never good for customer relationships.
  5. Undelivered mail is wasteful. Many organizations spend money repeatedly to send mail to the same undeliverable addresses because they have no method to identify them and fix the databases that create the mail.

Mail centers should consider the situations described above as severe enough to prompt them to take action and fix the problem, but that’s not what happens. The primary responsibilities of the mail center are getting the day’s outgoing mail to the post office on time and distributing the inbound mail. Dealing with returned mail is always low on the priority list. It’s a task that mail center staffers never seem to address, and the mail continues to pile up, making the problem worse every day.

Fortunately, Tritek has a solution for you. But before we talk about the solution, let’s examine what is causing returned mail to be such a problem for so many mail centers.

Why So Hard to Fix?
Processing returned mail requires time and resources. Because of the variability of returned mail, employees must perform detailed inspections and conduct research before determining how to handle each piece of mail.

  • Returned mailpieces come from many outbound mail applications.
  • The shape, size, and format of the mailpieces vary.
  • The databases containing the addresses used for the mailing are difficult to detect.
  • In some industries, regulations limit company options for correcting addresses of record.
  • The USPS returns mail for many reasons.

Automation is the Answer
Human labor is clearly not the way to resolve returned mail issues–especially now, when so many companies are challenged to find employees to fill open positions. If assigning an employee to resolve the backlog of returned mail produced satisfactory results, more companies would do so.

Analyzing pallets full of returned mail is too large a job to be handled by individuals. Organizations that begin with the manual approach find they don’t have the staff resources to dedicate to a long-term project. Employees work on the mail until the department needs their services elsewhere. Then the mail center abandons the project is until someone has free time again. In the interim, more UAA mail arrives.

Automation is the only way for mail centers to deal with UAA mail continuously, and fix this problem.

Feeding and Scanning Hardware
When implementing an automated approach, the first hurdle to overcome is dealing with the physical variability that is inherent in returned mail. The automated solution requires hardware that can accept all mailpieces, regardless of size, shape, and thickness. This is an area in which Tritek Technologies excels. We use the same feeding and transport systems built to process inbound mail to handle the mixed bag of returned mail, be it letters, postcards, self-mailers, brochures, or flats.

Cameras mounted on the Tritek equipment capture data from each mailpiece, including the sending address, return address, USPS reason-for-return stickers, permit numbers, and more. Some of the information to be captured might be printed on either side of the mailpiece, and in any orientation. The Tritek camera and data capture system can gather all the information from this hodgepodge of mixed mail.

Data Processing and Routing
The second challenge in automated return mail processing is using the captured data. Systems must determine the originating corporate department and inform the individuals responsible for updating the corporate database that it contains bad addresses.

Software from Tritek uses business rules to separate mailpieces by department and kick off other processes, such as referencing resources like the USPS National Change of Address file. Decisions made by the software can be based on information gathered from logos, tag lines, permit numbers, the return address, or any other information present on the mailpieces.

Software and processing speed must keep up with the transport mechanism. Within fractions of a second, the equipment deposits the UAA mailpieces in the correct output bins, allowing mail center personnel to deliver the mail to the correct internal departments across the enterprise.

To learn more about TriTek’s returned mail solution, see the brochure.

Returned mail is easy to ignore, and in most mail centers, it is. But organizations cannot ignore the impact of undeliverable mail. Tending to this situation can improve customer experience, lower costs, and improve cash flow. Contact Tritek Technologies to see how our solutions can help you finally fix your returned mail situation.