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Is Returned Mail a Record?

Marketing Team - Thursday, November 20, 2014

‘UAA’ ‘Unknown address’ ‘return to sender’ ‘no forwarding address.’ 

What is your company doing with your returned mail?  Is it stacking up behind the receptionist’s desk?  Piled in an unused office?  Thrown out?  Are you paying postage for correspondence that you know is going to bounce back, month after month?  Do you have a standard procedure for returned mail?

If you don’t manage your returned mail, you will continue wasting money on paper, postage and return postage.  And, with any document that isn’t actively managed, it will either be stored “just in case” or thrown away because chances are there isn’t an established policy.  When you are audited on your client outreach, you must provide this evidence to the auditor, or, the proof of destruction based on a records retention schedule.  Failure to show a consistent, standard business practice can result in penalties.

If you are in the financial or healthcare industries, your returned mail is regulatory evidence of your attempt to reach a customer or member. This mail is considered a business record, similar to the green receipt from certified mail. 

Mail becomes critically important in contentious situations, such as when a policy lapses.  Returned mail also provides an opportunity to improve your CRM database.  In this case CRM is Critical Records Management as well as Customer Relations Management! 

Technologies exist that can capture the information that is on the returned envelope with minimal labor.  Extracted data is used to update your customer databases, reducing the returned mail in the next batch.  Updates include editing of the information, such as correcting a misspelling, adding a zip code, archiving or deleting it.  A large healthcare insurance company reduced its returned mail from 86,000 pieces per month to less than 5,000 simply by extracting the data and updating its database. 

Even businesses that aren’t regulated on customer outreach, managing returned mail significantly reduces their postal costs, especially if they handle a significant amount of large documents with high postage costs.   The median cost to scan and extract the address and postal information from an envelope is $0.46. With a Return on Investment of 12 to 14 months, it’s worth investigating the process. Contact Western Integrated Systems for a review of mailroom procedures and learn about solutions that can help you save money.

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