Despite the many emails, social media campaigns and websites used to advertise and conduct business in the digital space, mail isn’t going away. Around half of bills are still paid through the mail, and direct mail has skyrocketed in the past two years. Mail maintains the third highest ROI behind email and social media and the best response rate currently at 5.1%.
If you send out a lot of First Class or Marketing mail, you are probably using a mail service provider (MSP) to help you save on postage costs by presorting or commingling your mail. However, not all MSPs are created equal. Be on the lookout for these warning signs, which may indicate it’s time to switch who handles your mail:
#1: You’re getting hit with a lot of unclear fees
Several types of fees are common when using a mail services provider, including pickup, sorting and additional postage fees. Whether they are common or not, an MSP should be clear about any ancillary fees that arise when processing your mail.
Some additional, unclear fees from MSPs can amount to up to 1% over the original quote of a mail project, which adds up quickly if you are regularly sending out large quantities of mail. If you find that your current mail service provider is listing a lot of miscellaneous fees without providing clear explanations, it may be time to consider switching.
A good MSP should always be honest and upfront with any fees your mailing incurs and work with you to resolve problems with your mail that may be costing you extra money, rather than letting you discover it on the invoice. For instance, your choice of envelope or paper stock may cause your mail to be “sticky” or heavy, which may cause additional metering fees. Mail service providers who discuss these issues have your company’s best interest, and finances, at heart.
#2: Their contracts are complicated
Mail service provider contracts should be simple and easy to read, regardless of whether you’re mailing a million mail pieces a week or only 500. If you are a getting a twenty-page document on how to interpret your contract, it may be time to switch your MSP.
Lengthy instructions on how to read your contract may be a sign of impending hidden fees, and it may even delay the start of your timely mailings. Ideally, a sales representative from your MSP should walk you through your contract and be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
#3: They don’t have a dedicated sales rep to work with your business
Have you ever had an urgent question and dialed up a support number only to be met with an automated menu of ten different options?
If your current mail service provider fields all calls through a general hotline and does not have a dedicated sales representative for your account, it may be time to look elsewhere. When your MSP uses a general hotline, it becomes harder to get the answers you need. This can end up delaying your mail, cause unneeded frustration, and make you feel as if your business isn’t a top priority. At any given moment, you may need to call up your MSP to track where your mail is in the mailstream, which becomes difficult to do if you have to call a hotline each time.
Look for an MSP that offers a dedicated sales rep for your account. By working one-on-one, the rep will know your mail inside and out and will help flag any issues upfront. They will be able to expedite communications, apply last-minute changes to your mailing, and offer the support you need to send your mail out error-free.
#4: Can’t guarantee same-day pickup and delivery with the USPS
Priorities shift all the time, which means you may find yourself calling your mail service provider for last-minute mail pickups. Ideally, these pickups should happen the same day as the request and also be delivered to the USPS within 24 hours. However, last-minute pickups depend on several things, including the number of pickup vehicles available as well as manpower.
If resources aren’t available, this may lead your last-minute pickups to be pushed to the next business day. For important financial mailings, it may mean an impact on DSO (days sales outstanding) that your company can’t afford to risk. For time-sensitive customer communications, a delay in your mail may increase frustration, flood support centers with calls, and impact your reputation. An MSP that doesn’t offer the flexibility you need with your mailings doesn’t need to be your last resort.
Search for a mail service provider that has flexible pick up times and is able to deliver mail to the USPS on the same day. Even if you don’t predict to have many last-minute mailings, knowing your MSP is capable of helping in those situations can be reassuring for you and your business.
#5: They aren’t prioritizing USPS Mailer Scorecards
In 2016, the USPS began actively counting and invoicing mistakes made by mailpiece preparers based on five major elements of their Mailer Scorecard. Most of the errors are found in the Full-Service Verification category, which relies on mailpieces’ Intelligent Mail Barcodes® (IMBs) to determine if the mail has been accurately prepared.
When mail is not prepared properly and exceeds the Scorecard error threshold, the eDoc submitter (typically the MSP, but in some cases the mail owner) is invoiced the deficit. For example, if the error threshold is 2% of a mailing but the actual error rate is 3%, the USPS will charge a fee on 1% of the mailing. These fines can exceed your savings for the week, month or even year if they are not handled properly.
If your current MSP does not meet the minimum threshold for their USPS Mailer Scorecard, your mail can be delayed and incur financial penalties. Even if your business is not financially impacted by these penalties, an MSP’s Scorecard is typically a good indication of whether or not they are staying abreast of USPS’ updates and requirements. If they aren’t staying on top of these changes, they will not be able to offer you, the mail owner, guidance on how to best send out your mailings.
Midwest is different.
Midwest Direct is a privately-held, family-owned business and prides itself on:
- Contacting clients before proceeding when unpredicted fees may be tagged onto mailings
- Clear, easy to read contracts that include accurate estimates and one-on-one meetings with sales reps to go over any questions
- Dedicated sales representatives for each of our clients – no hotlines, always us
- Same-day pickup, processing, and delivery to the USPS thanks to our central Cleveland location
- Open client communication regarding USPS standards, as well as our Scorecard rating
Think it may be time to switch? Sign up for a free account audit.