Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to reduce undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail by 50 percent. Okay, those weren’t the exact words, but that was the challenge put forward 10 years ago by then-Postmaster General Jack Potter.
At that time UAA mail – undeliverable because of an incomplete, illegible, or incorrect address – totaled more than 10 billion pieces, costing the Postal Service $2 billion annually because it must be forwarded, returned, or treated as waste.
Where are we today? Well, progress has been made, but not quite enough to hit the goal. In fiscal year 2014, UAA mail was 6.6 billion pieces and cost the Postal Service $1.5 billion.
UAA mail is costly to mailers, too, because of additional costs – both direct, such as printing and postage, and indirect, such as lost opportunities. A direct mailer has no chance for a sale if the piece never reaches the customer.
We also shouldn’t overlook the potential impact on mail recipients. They tend to value mail more if it includes accurate name and address information.
While the decline in UAA mail over the past decade is at least partially due to an overall reduction in mail volume, a portion of the drop is probably attributable to the investment mailers have made in address quality. And address quality certainly continues to be important to the postal industry. The Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee, a venue for the Postal Service and mailers to share technical information and make recommendations on matters concerning mail-related products, has an ongoing forum for address quality issues. The Postal Service’s Office of Address Management provides value-added products and services that enable business customers to better manage the quality of their mailing lists.
Also, through a licensing program, private sector companies can obtain licenses from Address Management to offer address hygiene tools to mailers, such as Delivery Point Validation and SuiteLink services, a data-only product containing business addressing information. In fact, we recently took a look at how the Postal Service is monitoring those address management licenses and recommended management make some improvements, such as requiring site security reviews of licensees.
Do you notice when a piece delivered to your home is not addressed properly? Do you instantly value it less as a result? What more could the Postal Service and industry do to improve address quality?