Who Said Mail is Dead?

By Paul Johnson, President CMS – Complete Mailing Solutions


Back in the 90’s, it was predicted that electronic media would eliminate the use of paper and be the demise of mail. Thirty plus years later, this prediction has not proved right. With the emphasis on digital communications and the ease with which we communicate, it would seem that mail would be doomed. But not yet!
While mail has declined from its heyday, it has a viable place in the communications mix. Consider some of the advantages of mail:

  • Anticipation and emotional connection with a personal communication that can be touched and felt
  • Less clutter (compared to all those emails) so advertiser’s messages are more easily seen
  • Longer life – mail is often held onto as reminders to take an action (emails are gone in an instant!)

While multiple channels of communication are necessary these days, mail still plays an important role in reaching customers and prospects. The fact that there is less mail overall, is an advantage to marketers because their message stands out. In a recent USPS survey*, an average of 8.4 minutes is spent sorting mail which is a very long engagement time (surprisingly, while millennials receive less mail they spend 9.2 minutes engaging with it). This is a great time to engage and attract new customers.
Learn more about engaging your customers in this article by Jim Cochran, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer at the USPS. Or, download the results of the USPS’ Mail Moments 2016 Review for some surprising facts about consumer behavior mail.
Given that mail is still an important part of the communication mix, it’s important to evaluate whether you are maximizing your mail program. Ask yourself whether you can:

    • Maintain your mail list so that you are not paying for mail that will never reach your customer or prospect
    • Leverage your existing communications to deliver customized messages and offers

We offer solutions that will help you optimize your communications through a variety of mailing, printing, digital and logistics solutions. Call us today at 303-761-0681 or contact Paul Johnson (pjohnson@cms-colorado.com) for a complimentary assessment of your mail program.
Share your thoughts. What’s the most unique way you have used mail in your company? What success have you experienced?

*(USPS Mail Moments 2016 Review)

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Who Moved Your Cheese?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


Do you receive a significant number of parcels and important documents? Are you finding it hard to handle and keep track of them? Do you know where important files or documents are at all times? Would it be helpful to receive an email notification when a time-sensitive document arrives? Are you wasting valuable time manually inputting incoming mail and parcels?
tracking parcel with cordless barcode scanner
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then read on to see if a parcel and document tracking solution might benefit your organization.
Neopost WTS is a scanner-enabled chain of custody tracking system for inbound mail, parcels, files and objects (such as electronics, furniture, tools, supplies, etc.). These items can be scanned into the system upon receipt. Scanning is then used to track any handoffs or checkouts from that time forward. With WTS you’ll know exactly where every received parcel, document or item is at any time. Available as either a premise or web based solution, WTS is scalable from small single-location businesses to large enterprises with multiple locations.
You’ll not only know where all tracked items are, you’ll have detailed information at your fingertips including:

  • Item description
  • Location
  • When the item was received
  • Identification of employee who moved it
  • The signature of the person who received it and currently has it

Real-world examples

Clients have used WTS for tracking company assets such as laptops, golf clubs, tools and equipment. Assets can be checked out for use and then checked back in. No more missing assets or wasted time tracking them down… you know where they are at all times. This applies to assets to be used both on and off-site.
Evidence tracking is another example. Police stations can use WTS for keeping track of evidence. The evidence is either in the evidence locker or it’s checked out to a specific person who is held accountable for it. In addition, this provides chain of custody tracking.
Benefits of a WTS tracking solution from CMS:

  • Eliminate liability of losing confidential documents or having them fall into the wrong hands.
  • Eliminate loss of expensive equipment and parcels.
  • Provide accountability through chain of custody tracking.
  • Reduce the cost of manually tracking and classifying incoming parcels and documents.
  • Reduce delivery time and errors by building a route for delivery.
  • Eliminate loss of expensive equipment and parcels.
  • Increase service quality.
  • Eliminate wasted time tracking down or finding documents and assets.
  • Automatically notify recipients of arrival of packages and parcels.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how a tracking solution could benefit your organization, contact Paul Johnson at 303-761-0681 x211 or pjohnson@cms-colorado.com.

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How to improve customer communications and reduce costs

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


Are the number and type of documents you need to send to your customers growing? Are you pressured to do more with the same or fewer resources without compromising quality? Would you like to improve the customer experience while reducing costs and increasing efficiency?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then a communications management solution is worth considering. The key components of an effective communications management system are: 1) communications management software, 2) folder inserter(s) and 3) address validation software. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the role and functionality of communications management software and provide a case study with hard data on the results one organization achieved by implementing a communications management solution.

Communications Management Software

This software is at the core of the solution, the brains, if you will. Communications management software electronically gathers documents such as invoices, statements and reports from a variety of sources (billing, ERP, CRM system, etc.), processes them (more on this in a moment) and routes them to the appropriate communications channel including email, mail, web portal or fax.
linked communications
An example of this type of software – Neopost‘s OMS-500 – provides centralized administration and distribution of documents from different departments (in different locations if desired) to be custom-processed and routed through the appropriate communications channels for each document. OMS-500 opens up a whole new world of possibilities in the way that you communicate with customers (or others you send documents to).

What are the results of communications processes optimized with OMS-500?

  • Time & Cost savings
    • Multiple documents can be consolidated into single, rather multiple emails, envelopes or faxes
    • Paper documents don’t require manual sorting, folding, etc.
    • Documents sent via USPS® mail receive the lowest rates
  • Improved Accuracy & Confidentiality
    • Recipients never receive documents not intended for them… thereby increasing security and reducing compliance and privacy risks
    • Bad addresses are corrected prior to mailing
  • Improved Customer Relations
    • Customers can choose how to receive communication: email, mail, web portal or fax
    • Documents are appealing and easy for customers to understand
    • Bills can contain personalized messages or offers/promotions

 


To read about a real-world scenario, check out this case study on how Seattle Children’s hospital uses a communications management solution to get the following results:

  • 88% reduction in labor costs.
  • Improved job satisfaction for employees doing the work.
  • Ability to re-assign existing staff to higher-value and more fulfilling tasks.
  • Improved data quality and deliverability of mail.
  • Improved mail handling including grouping documents by recipient instead of sending multiple documents per recipient.
  • Postage savings achieved from combining reports for the same recipient.

For more details on OMS-500 software you can download a brochure here or watch a video on OMS-500 here.

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Can a Dimensioning System reduce your warehousing and shipping costs? If so, how do you get the most for your investment?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


With the ever-increasing costs of warehouse space and the recent introduction of shape-based pricing by major shipping carriers, many DC and warehouse managers are looking for ways to reduce costs, calculate rates more accurately and cope with ever-changing shipping and logistics requirements. For many, this begs the question… should you get a dimensioning system? Let’s take look…

Simply put, dimensional weighing systems efficiently automate the process of determining package size/shape and weight in conjunction with your shipping system. The optimal system for your operation will depend on shipping volume, size and type of items shipped and level of investment you wish to make. Companies that ship as few as 100/day find that an investment in a dimensional weighing system is well worth the expenditure.

Most companies have found that savings from dimensioning systems have resulted in payback in a little as a few weeks. Some areas where quantifiable savings are realized are:

  • Space optimization
  • Slotting optimization
  • Reduced shipping costs
  • Rate shopping and informed negotiations
  • Pre-manifesting for more efficient throughput
  • Pick/pack efficiency
  • Item tracking
  • Reduced labor costs (some companies reporting up to 90% savings in line labor)
  • Streamlined returns process
  • Data analysis to identify opportunities in areas such as capacity optimization, load balancing and bottleneck elimination

The list above is obviously just a summary and there’s more to unpack here than can be addressed in this blog post. If you’d like to dig deeper and learn the specific savings in each of these areas, check out this white paper: Dimensioning Systems: Getting the Most for Your Investment. It details how savings are realized for each of the bullet points above including how carriers are using the “black box” of dimensional-weight calculations to increase your overall spend.
In addition to details on cost savings, this white paper includes a guide to the 10+ Essentials to Look for in a Dimensioning System. After reading this white paper, you’ll be well-versed on what a dimensioning system can do for you and better equipped to evaluate the best system for your needs.
If you’d like a customized assessment of your needs, projected savings and investment requirements for your situation, contact Paul at paul.johnson@comp-mail.com or 303-761-0681 x211 and we’ll have a specialist provide a plan tailored specifically for your requirements.

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Can A Turtle Become A Gazelle?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

Today’s companies are in transition. Mailroom processes have reached a tipping point between old school “turtle” thinking entrenched in “business as usual” and progressive “gazelle“ thinking that is focused on flexibility, speed, responsiveness and efficiency.

With increased labor and processing costs, strict legal requirements concerning customer privacy (e.g., HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley), steep penalties for non-compliance, and customers expecting responsiveness, companies can no longer afford to fall back on old school thinking by hiding in their shells.

How To Become a Gazelle

State-of-the-art mailroom Process Integrity Solutions (PIS) provide the ability to combine hardware and software technologies to ensure mail preparation is secure, content is correct, visibility is instantaneous and costs are reduced. Consider these additional benefits:barcode-with-push-pin

  • Increased efficiency – eliminates slow, manual processes that lead to errors, mismatched documents, privacy breaches, and high handling costs.
  • Visibility and tracking – barcode technology groups documents by customer and reports the status of individual mail pieces.
  • Cost Savings – combines multiple communications into one mailing based on the individual, which saves significant postage costs.
  • Security – automated processes ensures accuracy and eliminates the risk of private information being exposed.


Process Integrity Solutions increase operational efficiency, eliminates error-prone manual processes and ensure a superior customer experience.

What are some of the components of a Process Integrity Solutions suite?

  • Software that:
    • Centralizes the creation and management of communications
    • Ensures the right documents are delivered to the right customer in accordance with their preferences (mail, email, web portal, etc.)
    • Provides addresses accuracy and correct formatting
    • Provides visibility and trackability in the mail stream
    • Turns standard communications into marketing opportunities
  • Equipment designed to interface with software to eliminate manual processes and provide greater responsiveness

Working in tandem, PIS can dramatically transform your mail center and improve financial performance as well. A turtle can become a gazelle.


Want an overview of other ways you can improve your mail center? Read this white paper on How Your Mail Center Can Improve Your Financial Performance. You’ll learn more about the various areas of a mail center that can improve your company’s flexibility, speed, responsiveness and efficiency.

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How Much Money Are You Wasting?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

Oh, the humble folder/inserter. No one gives it much thought. However, it’s an unsung hero for saving both time and money for your organization.
Are you:

roi-up

  • Pulling staff from day-to-day tasks to help stuff envelopes, causing delays in other projects?
  • Paying for temps to help process statements or mailings so your staff can stay focused on their work?
  • Processing multiple page invoices or statements manually?

On average, an office worker can manually stuff 2 inserts in about 95 envelopes per hour, compared with a minimum of 1,350 envelopes on an entry-level machine, or up to 12,000 envelopes on more sophisticated models. Matching, folding and inserting multiple pages by hand reduces that average exponentially.

Old school thinking says: “Employees are at work for 8 hours anyway, so what does it matter?”
Progressive thinking asks: “How can we maximize our employee’s time and profitability?”

Utilizing the right tools can:

  • Improve employee morale –tedious, disruptive projects can increase frustration
  • Increase accuracy – reduce error rates inherent in manual processing
  • Improve timeliness of communications – missed deadlines can result in revenue delays
  • Maximize communications – seasonal volume and #/type of inserts are easily accommodated
  • Impact customer satisfaction – prompt communications lead to greater customer satisfaction

A folder/inserter, working in tandem with output management software, provides greater flexibility, accuracy, cost-efficiency and timeliness when sending communications to your customers. The need to handle communications with varying number of inserts manually is a thing of the past. Technology adapts automatically, so you can tailor communications to specific customer groups on the fly.

Want to quickly identify areas for potential cost savings and productivity improvement? Check out our Labor Cost Comparison to better understand the savings available with a folder/inserter. It includes an ROI Calculator to help you determine specifically how much you can save.

How have you improved profitability in your company? Share your experience with us!

#folderinserter #outputmanagementsoftware #oms #customerexperience #cx #processautomation

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Would your business survive a malware attack?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


If your business were struck this afternoon by a malware attack, how would it fare? At first brush, most executives would be inclined to say they’re prepared. Upon digging further, many would find that they have vulnerabilities that could be quite disruptive and costly.

data-protection-small
When it comes down to it, there are two primary issues to consider:

  • How well are you protected?
  • How would you recover if successfully attacked?

The former has to do with protection and prevention and the latter with recovery or what is often referred to as business continuity. Each of these is an extensive topic and can’t be given their just due in one article. However, we’d like to provide insights into business continuity, helpful resources and actions you can take to move your company closer to the ideal of being able to recover without missing a beat.

The frequency and effectiveness of malware attacks are growing at an alarming rate. This is placing ever more importance on business continuity to the point where it is now a business imperative.

Is a good backup strategy sufficient?

This is an important point to consider. It primarily boils down to what you define as sufficient. How long would it take to recover using on site backups? Hours? Days? What would that cost you in direct and intangible costs? The eBook, CEO? Here’s Why You Care about Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, is a helpful guide for executives to assess the risks and costs of downtime.

What is the difference between backup and business continuity? A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s an infographic, Traditional Backup vs Intelligent Business Continuity, that does a nice job of
comparing and contrasting the two.

If you want to learn more about business continuity solutions and/or get an assessment for your business, call or email Paul Johnson at 303-761-0681 or Paul.Johnson@comp-mail.com

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Privacy Compliance… are prying eyes viewing private information?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


Compliance
The current privacy compliance pressures facing businesses in many industries, from healthcare to finance and manufacturing, have resulted in a heavy focus on the high-tech areas of IT and data security. But there is an often overlooked low-tech area that represents a prevalent risk, and it’s one that can be mitigated relatively easily and inexpensively.

Are your document handling and billing systems putting you at risk?

Mail handling, billing and customer communications are functions that have been around seemingly forever. Consequently, companies often mistakenly believe that they have these areas “handled”. Yet these are areas where customer privacy can be put at risk on a daily basis.

What if these risks could be fairly easily and inexpensively mitigated? Further, what if addressing them also resulted in reduced costs and increased operational efficiencies? Implementing processes and software to properly handle customer information and customer communications can deliver these results.

Here a few examples of commonly overlooked areas of exposure:

  • Mail processing systems that do not prevent combining statements or invoices for two different customers.
    • You’d be surprised how often this happens and how easily it can be avoided.
  • Mail being handled in a publicly accessible area by a secretary or receptionist.
    • If so, you’re not alone – this is a common practice and one that often puts customer information unattended within public view.
  • Mismatched or “problem” mail left exposed in a public area while problems are being solved.
    • Not only is this process out of compliance but wastes valuable employee time to correct.
  • Manually handling client documents with different numbers of pages and inserts.
    • This not only exposes private information to workers but is extremely inefficient and error prone.

These are just a few of the many areas where businesses put themselves at risk on a daily basis.

Want to do a quick check to determine areas where you might be at risk?

Download this free compliance checklist to identify often overlooked areas of exposure that may need attention. Another great resource is the white paper from Neopost on How to Ensure Your Organization’s Mail Process is Compliant. It includes 8 best practices for mail compliance.

Interested in digging deeper? Learn more with our complimentary document handling compliance and cost reduction assessment.

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Drowning In Rising Shipping Costs?

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions


Both UPS and FedEx have announced their General Rate Increase (GRI) for 2017. For the first time, there are differences in how each carrier is approaching their increases. Here are some highlights of the changes shippers will encounter as well as some strategies on managing the increases.For the first time, UPS will be increase the majority of their 2017 rates on December 26th, which will impact shippers with post-Christmas returns.
 

ups-squarelogo

 

  • The basic rate increase that averages 4.9% (packages in the 1-10 lb range are typically higher).
  • UPS will now be assessing Additional Handling Surcharges on packages that are 48” or more ion the longest side (from t 60”) on Ground, Air, and International packages.
  • Additional Handling Surcharges will increase $.35 and will now also be applied to UPS’ more economical SurePost packages (packages that ship UPS but are delivered to their final destination by the USPS). The surcharge will go into effect on January 8, 2017.

View a 2017 rate overview here Rates at ups.com
 
 

fedeximages165

  • FedEx will increase their rates on January 2, 2017. The change reflects an average 3.9% increase on domestic U.S. domestic, import and export services.
  •  FedEx is changing their domestic dimensional weight multiplier from 166” to 139” (dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the length x width x height then dividing by the multiplier – 139).
  • FedEx will adjust their Fuel Surcharge on a weekly rather than monthly basis. Industry experts suggest this indicates FedEx is anticipating higher fuel costs next year and want to reduce the impact on their revenue.

View FedEx 2017 shipping rates here 2017 Rates at fedex.com
 
 

  • The USPS has not announced a specific rate increase but has published tentative structural changes that would go into effect on January 22, 2017

View USPS proposed changes USPS 2017 Changes
 
 

When Does a 1-Lb Parcel Weigh 11 lbs?

No it’s not a trick question but it might depend on the date.

Dimensional pricing has had a significant impact on the cost of shipments because pricing is based on dimensions rather than weight. Essentially a 1-lb package is no longer a 1-lb package!

Consider this:

Cost Comparison of a 12” x 12” x 12” Package Weighing 1 Lb.
Carrier 2016 Billable Weight 2016 Rates – Price* 2017 Billable Weight 2017 Rates – Approx Price
FedEx Ground 11 lbs $15 13 lbs $20
UPS 11 lbs $18 11 lbs $19
USPS 1 lbs $7 1 lbs $7

As rates and surcharges steadily increase, it’s no longer feasible to be lax about how items are packaged and shipped.

3 Tips To Better Manage Rate Increases

It is now imperative that shippers more closely manage their shipments. Here are 3 tips to help you better control shipping costs:

  1. Optimize Package Contents and Packaging
    Package as many items in a single container as possible as well as use the smallest box possible to ship the products. This will not only reduce the cost of packing materials but the actual cost of the shipment.
  2. Rate-Shop All Shipments
    With the divergence of pricing strategies between UPS and FedEx, it is more important than ever to shop for the best rate (especially with weekly fuel surcharge adjustments at FedEx).
    Incorporate rate shopping tools such as NeoShip, ProShip, and EMS that not only identify the best shipping rate but provide greater visibility of your shipments progress.
  3. Dimensional Equipment
    Take the guesswork out of dimensioning each package and identify package size and pricing instantly with a dimensional scale that automatically calculates package dimensions

Contact us today for a Free Assessment of your shipping needs and more ideas on how to better manage them –303-761-0681.

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Ransomware – Brief Highlights, How It Works, How To Avoid It

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

Ransomware utilizes malware (malicious software) to make data or your computer’s operating system unreadable or inaccessible. It demands payment to unencrypt affected files or systems. However, even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee ransomed items will be released. According to the FBI, Ransomware attacks are not only proliferating, they’re becoming more sophisticated. Read the full FBI article here.

Brief Highlights

In its simplest form, Ransomware has been around since 1989 represented by the AIDS Trogan virus, which was distributed via floppy diskettes (remember those?) sent to World Health Organization’s international conference attendees. When the computer containing the virus was rebooted, files were encrypted and the ransom demand was made. Users paid $189 in ransom. It didn’t take long for decryption tools to recover the files and stop the attack.
Ransomware became more prominent around 2006 with a Russian-based extortion plan by organized criminals called TROJ_CRYZIP.A. This version placed files of a certain type into a password-protected ZIP folder and deleted the originals. Victims were directed to pay $300 to an E-Gold account (a precursor to Bitcoin).
Ransomware really began to explode in 2013 with the first widely-recognizable crypto-ransomware called CryptoLocker. This form of ransomware made the recipient’s computer virtually unusable by encrypting all files. CryptoLocker was delivered through downloads from compromised websites, phishing and email attachments. It was extremely sophisticated and utilized Bitcoin for payments.
Spinoffs of CryptoLocker, Onion, Reveton, Jigsaw, KeRanger (the first official Mac OSX-based ransomware), CryptXX and others, make it clear that that ransomware will continue to increase in sophistication and range. Delivery methods will expand as will types of machines affected and ransom amount. In fact, reports this year indicate Android phones are now at risk. There’s no end to the extent cybercriminals will utilize to take your money.
How to protect yourself
There are some basics to follow to protect yourself:
1. Keep your system backed up on a regular basis so you can restore your computer to a known clean state.
2. Utilize a strong and reliable security system that can identify and block ransomware threats.
3. Keep your software updated. Patches are constantly being added as viruses and ransomware are being identified.
4. Perform a full network scan to identify infected computers – isolate compromised equipment until they are complete clean before putting back into service.
5. Show hidden file extensions so you can spot a potentially suspicious file. Often “EXE” files can contain a virus. Always be wary of EXE files sent via email attachments.
6. If at all possible, don’t pay the ransom. This not only encourages the cybercriminals, but may place you in an even worse situation. There have been plenty of cases in which a decryption key was never provided or did not encrypt all files.
To learn how to protect yourself, get your free copy of the The Guide to CryptoLocker Prevention and Removal today.

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