Chapter 2: Postal Operations
A. Public Perceptions, Customer Outreach and Mailer Liaison
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a. National Postal Forum

National Postal Forums (NPFs) were held in San Diego, CA, and Boston, MA, with over 9,000 business customers and exhibitors attending. Business mailers attended the Forums to obtain information about mailing industry issues, trends, and opportunities; to learn about cutting-edge technology; to participate in information-packed business and educational sessions; to have access to Postal Service decision makers; and to network. Today's NPFs provide professionals with ongoing training in a rapidly changing industry, the opportunity to build on the business partnership between the Postal Service and its customers, to network with industry peers, and to talk directly with Postal Service officials.

Innovation in the Mail was the NPF theme in 2002. NPF General Sessions provided attendees with insight into the vision, plans, and priorities of mailing industry leaders. The Postmaster General outlined the Postal Service's objectives and priorities for the future. Topics included: how transformation of the Postal Service affects the mailing industry; rates; and postal products and services. The deputy Postmaster General and the chief executive officer of Pitney Bowes reported on the continuing efforts of the Mailing Industry Task Force, which they co-chair. Attendees received information about technology available to improve the value of the mail through numerous sessions, workshops, and exhibits. Postal Service executives, along with industry leaders, led discussion groups that addressed remittance mailers, periodicals mailers, package mailers, and advertising mailers service issues. Postal Service officers hosted numerous Business Builder Strategy Sessions at each Forum. The sessions featured Postal Service programs and initiatives and customers who have benefited from them. NPF attendees also were offered sessions on address management, how to keep costs and rates low, and avoiding fraud scams. Mail security was particularly emphasized and a Mail Center Safety session and a wide variety of other safety and security sessions were offered.

In all, the Forum's training and education program offered customers approximately 100 business sessions and workshops at each Forum. These training and education programs were designed around customers' business processes and categorized as follows: Mailing Made More Affordable, Mailing Made Easier, Mailing Made More Effective, Mailing Made More Efficient and Predictable, Mailing Made Global, Mailing Made Safe & Secure, Mailing Made Smarter, and Mailing Center Professional.

As part of the Postal Service commitment to continuing education, three certificate programs were offered to attendees. A Mail Center Professional Certificate was offered to those who attended required sessions in specific mail preparation and mailing operations areas. A Mail Center Safety and Security Certificate was offered to those who attended four safety-related educational sessions. A Department of Defense Official Mail Workshop Certificate was offered to those individuals attending the Official Mail Workshop business session. Applicants for certificate programs who attended the required sessions receive certificates. To date, approximately 1,200 individuals have participated in these certificate programs. Complementing the Forum's educational program was the exhibit floor, which featured approximately 290 companies at each Forum. The exhibits displayed the latest in mailing supplies, services, mail automation equipment, software, and computer hardware.

b. Executive Mail Center Manager Program

In response to input from the mailing industry, the Postal Service has been working with mailing industry professionals and nationally recognized training experts to develop the U. S. Postal Service Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) program. This program provides attendees with an elite mailer educational program that provides comprehensive education relevant to the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully manage a mailing operation.

c. Postal Customer Council

A Postal Customer Council® (PCC) is a local, grassroots organization comprised of businesses that use the mail to reach their business goals. PCCs provide networking and educational opportunities to help businesses effectively and efficiently communicate and enhance their relationship with customers and to identify prospective customers through the mail. They also provide the Postal Service the opportunity to enhance its working relationship with local businesses and to better identify their needs. In 2002, many PCCs more actively sought the participation of small and medium-sized businesses through the Direct Mail Seminar Program. During the year, more than 250 local PCCs held over 1,700 customer meetings. Mail security issues and the Postal Service Transformation Plan were the major topics in 2002.

Recognizing the capability of the PCC network to communicate important information to customers, the Postal Service continued to call on the PCCs to discuss mail security issues. Mail security seminars are now a mainstay of many PCC symposiums. In the spring and summer approximately 75 special meetings were held to discuss the Postal Service Transformation Plan. Many of these meetings featured Postal Service officers and/or executives as speakers. Comments from attendees were overwhelmingly positive and appreciative of the effort. As John Wargo, vice president of the Service and Market Development said, “If we didn’t have organizations as effective as the PCCs in reaching our customers, we’d have to create them.”

Keeping Posted, the national PCC newsletter is featured as an insert in our monthly Memo to Mailers newsletter and now reaches well over the 175,000 customer and company addressees, almost all of whom are members of PCCs. The newsletter often features successes of PCCs, thus providing examples of best practices for other PCCs. Complimenting the newsletter is the PCC website at The sites are targeted to help businesses find the location of their closest PCC or enable veteran PCC members to locate informative presentation material for their next local meeting. The PCC website also houses a Speaker’s Bureau that allows PCCs to employ knowledgeable, experienced Postal Service managers as presenters at their local functions.

As always, providing guidance and assistance to the local PCCs is the Postmaster General’s PCC Advisory Committee. This select group of industry leaders and Postal Service executives and managers has years of experience in the leadership of PCCs. They have provided unique and innovative methods to support PCC’s needs and to recognize their accomplishments. Among the committee’s innovative ideas is the Meeting in a Box series of videotapes, which provides material to the PCCs for local meetings. In addition, this group selects recipients of the coveted PCC Leadership Awards. These awards represent the highest honor given by the Postal Service to PCCs and their members. In 2002 the awards were presented at the NPF in San Diego, CA. Awards were given to the most creative and innovative PCCs in the categories of Best PCC Communications Program, Best Individual PCC Event, Best Multiple PCC Event, Best PCC Co-Chair team, and Most Valuable Industry and Postal PCC Members.

In 2002 the advisory committee continued its successful PCC Leadership Conference program. Two conferences were held at the San Diego and Boston NPFs. These half-day events focused on enhancing leadership skills of the PCC co-chairs and individuals aspiring to PCC leadership. The conferences included motivational talks by several senior officers of the Postal Service and interactive sessions led by members of the National PCC Advisory Committee. The conferences were attended by Postal Service and industry co-chairs from around the country. Based on their feedback they were again judged a success and will be continued in 2003.

d. Mailers Technical Advisory Committee

The purpose of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) is to share technical information, advice, and recommendations on matters concerning transformation of mail-related products and services to better enhance customer value for the mutual benefit of the mailing industry and the Postal Service. MTAC membership consists of associations that represent all segments of the mailing industry and has a 35-year history of finding solutions to major issues.

The main work of MTAC is actually performed in the workgroups which bring together dedicated and hard working Postal Service and industry specialists. Any MTAC representative or Postal Service executive can propose an issue that would require the formation of a new workgroup. The criteria for approval of a proposed workgroup is as follows: that the identified problem and/or issue must be industry-related as opposed to being centered around the needs of an individual company or organization; should be timely; any potential solution should pertain to concerns of both the industry and the Postal Service; should not be redundant with another issue already in workgroup status; and should have defined measurable objectives and an expected timetable for completion. Once the proposal is submitted, the MTAC Steering Committee discusses the suitability of the issue and comes to a consensus on a recommendation to approve, reject, or table an issue for further research. Upon approval, the Steering Committee sponsors (one from the industry and one from the Postal Service) become responsible for managing the progress of the workgroup. The sponsors also appoint an industry and a Postal Service workgroup leader who select members of the workgroup and ensure workgroup efforts and recommendations meet stated objectives on a timely basis.

MTAC enjoyed another year of significant accomplishment during 2002. The following workgroups were brought to closure: Mail Preparation Quality (MERLIN); Priority Mail Service Improvement; Preparing Flats Using Alternate Packaging; First-Class Mail Delivery Issues; Business Reply Mail Service, Acceptance, Accounting; Future Flats Strategies; Flats Packaging Methods and Package Integrity; Drop Ship Appointment System (DSAS) Enhancements; and Unit Load Tracking.

Workgroups that are currently active include Move Update Initiative, Parcel Processing Field Study, Vote-by-Mail Research Plan, Flats Container Development, Mailer Barcode Quality Industry Best Practices, Undeliverable-As-Addressed Military Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Service Assessment for DDU Drop Shipped Packages, Delivery Standards and Business Mail Measurement, Mail Irregularity Feedback Process, Maximizing Value of Planet Code, PostalOne!, Presort Optimization, and Publication Watch. Other issues have recently been proposed for possible new workgroups.

Workgroup leaders are often called upon to make formal progress reports at MTAC general sessions held each calendar quarter at Postal Service Headquarters. The successful reports of these initiatives demonstrated our ability to successfully achieve transformation in what many consider to be the most challenging environment ever faced by the Postal Service and the mailing industry.

e. Mail Recovery Centers

The Postal Service operates two mail recovery centers (MRCs). They are located in St. Paul, MN,, and Atlanta, GA. These facilities are responsible for the final disposition of undeliverable-as-addressed and nonreturnable mail. During 2002, they processed approximately 1.3 million parcels and 84.4 million letters. To better serve customers, the Postal Service uses MRCs as diagnostic tools to pinpoint specific problem areas that affect mail volumes received at our facilities. By communicating these problems to our mailers, they are able to improve their mail preparation and/or packaging. We work closely with mailer organizations to determine ways we can work together to provide better service and reduce operating costs. A direct result of this process was the Expanded Return Program, whereby undeliverable mail items found in company-identifiable packaging are returned in bulk, as postage due to the 35 participating companies. Approximately 200,000 pieces were returned through this program during 2002. Additionally, the MRCs realized a substantial decrease in cycle times and processing work hours through Process Management efforts. The Mail Recovery Program, working closely Operations, Delivery Programs, Retail, and the Postal Inspection Service, is bringing improved organizational efficiency to this activity.

f. Corporate Contact Management

Corporate Contact Management (CCM) provides Postal Service customers with easy toll-free access to a broad range of products and services through 800-ASK-USPS. CCM also handles domestic Express Mail® and Priority Mail® tracking and tracing calls to 800-222-1811 and Dinero Seguro® or Money Movers calls to 800-ENVIOMX. The overall goal of CCM is to improve customer service and operating efficiency, decrease general information calls to Post Offices and increase revenue through establishment of an effective national contact-handling infrastructure. The CCM network includes two centers in Denver, CO, and Kansas City, KS, that respond to 64 million phone inquiries from across the nation regarding general information, mailing rates, hours and locations of local Postal Service facilities, and service opportunities.

Call center responsibilities were transferred to the Vice President, Consumer Advocate’s organization in 2001. The Consumer Affairs office enhanced the program with automated voice recognition technology that answers customer requests for ZIP Codes and Post Office hours and locations. The Consumer Advocate has outlined a strategic vision for the program that streamlines and consolidates the enterprise contact center and customer care, and leverages CCM infrastructure to support personalized product and service transactions, whether by phone, e-mail or online.

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Chapter 2 Table of Contents

A.  Public Perceptions, Customer
     Outreach and Mailer Liaison

B.  Product Development

C.  International Mail

D.  Mail Volume and Service

E.  Mail Distribution

F.  Delivery Unit Operations

G.  Stamp Services

H.  Licensing Program

I.  Commercial Sales

J.  Retail Programs:
     Building the Core

K.  Pricing and Classification

L.  Marketing Technology and
     Channel Management

M. The Internet:
     Transforming the Way We Connect
      with Our Customers

N.  Technology

O.  Operations Planning

P.  Financial Management