High-Quality Addressing — Current, Correct, And Complete
Undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail must be forwarded, returned to the sender, or treated as waste because addresses are incomplete, incorrect, or out-of-date. UAA mail wastes customer investment in the mail, and the Postal Service’s UAA-related costs are over $1 billion annually. To reduce UAA mail, the Postal Service has implemented procedures to improve the address database, manage address list quality, provide more effective address-quality feedback to mailers, and enhance the change-of-address (COA) process.
Refining The Address Database
The Postal Service relies on a number of tools to improve the quality of the Address Management System (AMS) database. The Address Quality Reporting Tool (AQRT) identifies and prioritizes routes with the best opportunity for operational improvement. Districts performed 103,300 Address Quality Improvement Process reviews based on AQRT prioritized routes. These reviews identified and corrected addressing data on 2 million records in the AMS database in 2008. The Electronic Uncoded Address Resolution Service enables USPS personnel to correct COA records that do not match a delivery point in the AMS database and update addresses mailers submit for address corrections. This year carriers helped correct more than 6.7 million addresses.
Another system, Delivery Sortation Management Automation Research Tool (DSMART), identifies addresses that receive mail but are not in the AMS database and cannot be sorted into delivery point sequence (DPS). DSMART Business Names module provides the ability for delivery unit personnel to enter a business name which links those business names with the appropriate suite address so the mail can be sequenced on automation equipment. Delivery managers have entered 1.6 million business names. The Postal Service has developed a commercial version of this business names database called SuiteLink. During 2008 mailers used this product to update 103 million addresses.
Improving Address List Quality
The Postal Service and mailing industry have continued to improve procedures and tools for validating and updating address lists. Best practices for updating addresses include using pre-mailing tools like Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) certification, NCOALink processing, Move Update standards, and post-mailing tools such as ACS and the new OneCode ACS.Working together, industry and Postal experts have upgraded CASS processing software to enable mailers to improve the accuracy of addressing and sorting data in mailing lists. Enhancements include Delivery Point Validation, a process that ensures that addresses exist in the AMS database.
This change dramatically improved automation compatibility, especially barcoding at the delivery point level. Customers can correct non-validated addresses using Address Element Correction (AEC) software. Mailer usage increased 18 percent for AEC II, an enhancement to AEC software service that sends unresolved addresses to delivery offices for resolution. The next cycle of CASS updates, due in August 2009, will include SuiteLink, which adds secondary (suite) numbers to business delivery points to facilitate delivery point sequencing, and tables identifying addresses that do not yet receive postal delivery, and vacant addresses. Use of these tables to suppress addresses with no residents can reduce UAA mail and save mailing costs.
The NCOALink product makes COA information available to mailers to help reduce undeliverable mailpieces before mail enters the mailstream. The NCOALink processing allows mailers to match their mailing list data against postal-maintained change-of-address data. If a match is made with the name and old address information in the NCOALink file during the processing, the software provides the current move information (new address or undeliverable status) to update the mailing list. The number of addresses processed by NCOALink increased 15.5 percent over the prior year.
The Postal Service took an additional step to reduce UAA mail with new Move Update standards that took effect in November 2008. The changes increased the minimum frequency of Move Update processing from 185 calendar days to 95 days prior to the date of mailing and extended the Move Update standards to include all Standard Mail in addition to automation-rate and presort-rate First-Class Mail. The Move Update standards provide several options for customers including NCOALink, FASTforward (a commercial MLOCR software application), Address Change Service (ACS) and OneCode ACS, and ancillary service endorsements without ACS. Mailers, who rely on ACS and OneCode ACS, or ancillary service endorsements without ACS, must incorporate the address changes received within no more than 95 days prior to subsequent mailings at discounted postage prices.
To get updated address data for mailed pieces that are UAA, mailers can use traditional ACS and OneCode ACS, a process that utilizes in-process Intelligent Mail® scanning data. These programs provided 239 million notifications to mailers in 2008. Use of these programs increased by 11 percent, largely driven by use of OneCode ACS as mailers prepare for Intelligent Mail implementation.