• on Feb 9th, 2015 in Products & Services | 3 comments

    People may not like getting bills, but they prefer to receive them in the mail and pay them online.

    That’s the finding of our study on transactional mail, which is made up mostly of household bills and payments moving as First-Class Mail.

    We collaborated with the consulting firm InfoTrends to analyze 3 months’ worth of customer billing data from a major U. S. utility. We also jointly interviewed executives who manage bill delivery and payment processing to help determine how the utility’s delivery-and-payment costs and customer preferences compare with those at other utilities and even in other industries.

    As you can see in our new white paper, Will the Check Be in the Mail? An Examination of Paper and Electronic Transactional Mail, we found that despite a clear preference to pay bills online, 91 percent of customers prefer receiving their bills by mail. Even among the utility’s newest customers — those expected to be more digitally savvy — an average of 89 percent opted to have their bills mailed to them, though, like the others, most preferred paying online.

    The reasons are pretty simple. People like having a physical mailpiece as a reminder to pay and as a record-keeping tool. The execs we spoke with said our results are consistent with what they’ve been seeing and hearing.

    It’s also consistent with another clear directive from consumers: they want options in just about everything, including bill delivery and payment. So, in addition to being good news for mail, our findings suggest that a company offering a variety of bill delivery and payment options will keep customers happy.

    Do you prefer receiving your bills via regular mail or email/text? How about paying – do you pay online or ‘is the check in the mail’? 

  • on Jan 28th, 2015 in Products & Services | 5 comments

    The sometimes elusive concept of “brand” is very real and useful to businesses and organizations of all kinds and sizes. A brand encompasses an array of tangible and intangible elements, from a company’s name and logo to consumers’ expectations of a particular product or service. For instance, the names and logos of Mercedes Benz and Lexus usually make people think of reliable, well-built, luxury cars. Wal-Mart and Target are most often associated with large inventories of everyday goods at discounted prices.

    The U.S. Postal Service has a brand, too. Its attributes include reliability, convenience, value, and tradition. Where the Postal Service differs from many other businesses and organizations is in the management of its brand: To get the most financial value out of their brands, successful firms treat them like other assets and carefully measure and monitor them. Brand valuation is an important management tool used to do this. But while the Postal Service has worked to enhance some of its brand attributes, it has never conducted a formal brand valuation.

    We worked with Premier Quantitative Consulting (PQC), experts in brand valuation, to develop an estimate of the Postal Service’s brand value. Based on extensive research and analysis detailed in our new white paper, The Value of the U.S. Postal Service Brand, PQC conservatively estimates the Postal Service brand value is $3.6 billion, based on fiscal year 2013 financial data (the most recent available when PQC performed its study). This means the Postal Service would forego at least an additional $3.6 billion in future cash flows if it had no discernable brand. In other words, if the Postal Service were indistinguishable from a generic delivery brand, it would not realize these significant cash flows.

    PQC also suggested some ways the Postal Service could further enhance its brand. For example, the organization could (1) aggressively respond to inaccurate “doomsday” reports and predictions about its future, (2) involve employees – who are truly “the face of the brand” – in implementing brand strategies, and (3) expand licensing activities.

    Do you think the Postal Service brand is important? What could the Postal Service do to enhance its brand? What are some attributes you associate with various brands? 

  • on Dec 1st, 2014 in Products & Services | 4 comments

    The U.S. Postal Service’s 2014 Holiday Playbook has a very modern spin. More than just holiday timetables and stamps, it encourages readers to download the Postal Service’s augmented reality (AR) app, “USPS AR.” The app is available through the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

    AR allows users to scan physical objects and see them with digital graphics, information, and sounds through an app on a mobile device. AR works by connecting to a back-end library of images, allowing the app to “see” those objects and overlay the real-world images with computer-generated animations. Users must have an Internet connection to access the AR component. For example, in this year’s holiday campaign, the Postal Service added the eagle on the side of blue collection boxes to its library. When a mailbox is scanned, it will show a different animation each week followed by an opportunity to visit the Postal Service’s mobile site.

    This leads to one of the biggest challenges of AR – companies must be very clear about how to use the app. They need to indicate what users should scan and what additional functionality the app delivers. Some exasperated postal customers didn’t know what they were supposed to scan or how the app worked.

    Reviews on Google Play and the App Store suggest some users have had other troubles with the app as well. But a number of reviews have applauded the Postal Service for doing “something cool.” These positive reviewers have also expressed interest in seeing where the Postal Service takes this technology.

    The app is different from past Postal Service forays into AR because it could generate revenue by hosting other companies’ advertisements. Companies could create and implement campaigns using AR mailpieces and allow users to access digital content through the USPS AR app. This would let users download one app rather than a different app each time they want to scan something. If all mail goes through one platform, customers might be more likely to use it.

    Have you downloaded the USPS AR app? If so, do you like it? What do you wish it could scan? Do you see an opportunity for the Postal Service to generate revenue with AR? 

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