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Consider a scenario where your organization has sent out a Mail to a customer but it somehow went undelivered 🙁 Such an experience might not only create cracks in the existing rapport but might also hamper the existing business relations. Any instance of undeliverable Mail leads to an additional cost to the company.

The blog is written from the lens of a utility customer. For a utility company, the cost being referred to is the increased number of customer calls to the CSAs (Customer Service Agents). This in turn causes a negative impact on Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).

In normal scenarios, undelivered parcels can result in a rise in negative WOM (Word of Mouth) – a factor that can cause long-term damage to your brand. You can expect a greater number of irate customers reaching out to CSAs for an explanation of undelivered parcels.

As stated by USPS, the CRM costs reflect the long-term damage to the brand is evident from the Mails that are attempted for delivery but are undelivered due to incorrect or illegible addresses.

There is a lot at stake when a parcel is considered undelivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS)!USPS address verification is the best way forward to curtail the tangible and intangible losses that could occur due to undelivered parcels. So, let’s look into the How and Why of USPS address verification. We would deep dive into how TekGeminus worked on providing a scalable and reliable solution for USPS address validation.

Why USPS Address Verification Is Important

Till now, you would have realized why it’s imperative that your customers (or users) or business partners receive their Mails (or parcels) on time. Every undelivered Mail adds to the underlying costs that might have been predicted earlier.

Here are some of the prime reasons to consider USPS address verification as priority:

  • There is a maximum probability that the intended recipient receives the correspondence (or Mail) in case the address is validated and said to be correct. This will eventually result in building a more positive brand image since it increases the CSAT.
  • Overhead expenses that include Mail return and redelivery due to incorrect addresses will be reduced by a great extent. Correction of address that involves manual intervention can be completely avoided by leveraging USPS address verification
  • Timely Mail deliveries not only result in customer happiness but also results in qualifying for bulk postal discounts
  • USPS address verification can be done without any hassles, as USPS address directories are entirely free and no costs are incurred in updating the directories. The implementation of validation/correction functionalities benefits the organization since it no longer needs to deal with the overheads caused due to undelivered (or returned) Mails
  • The implementation of address verification software takes into account the correction of street addresses, street/house number, pre, and post-directions, zip codes, and missing or incorrect information in these parts of the address.
  • A rise in undeliverable mails diminishes the probability of offering bulk mail discounts owing to the sudden spike in customer complaints and increased calls to CSAs. This results in a bandwidth crunch for CSAs whose major job is to address queries related to bills and payments.
  • System records stored in the Customer Care Billing (CCB) application (or back-end) act as the source of primary information for all the interfaces

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How To Realize USPS Address Verification

As per USPS, close to 6 billion pieces of Mail were returned back to the sender due to incorrect recipient addresses. Misspelled address, mention of incorrect zip code, incorrect client name, change in the recipient (or client) mailing address, and unreachable client address are some of the common reasons why address errors occur.

Normally, large utility companies approach vendors with expertise in domains like utility optimizations, applications development, and testing for solving the above-listed problems at scale. The intent is to minimize or nullify the intangible losses incurred due to returned Mails.

This problem can be addressed by taking into account Address Updates and Mail Forwarding so that there is minimal probability of returns.

Scenario 1 – Addition of New Address

There are two ways through which the mailing address can be added or updated in the system (or database):

  • Customer Service Agents (CSAs) enter or update the address from the front end.
  • A new address record is added or an existing one is updated via the third-party onboarding processes

Irrespective of the approach taken, the address is validated with the USPS address directory. In case there is any discrepancy in the address, it is flagged then and there itself. This helps in updating the address since the changes are readily available at the CSA’s disposal.

This process ensures that any new address recorded in the system is validated against the existing entries present in the USPS address directories.

There is also an option to bypass the USPS address validation but it is not a recommended practice since the address is not registered with USPS.

Scenario 2 – Validation of Existing Addresses

Here, the addresses are already present in the system but they need to be verified for correctness. Batch jobs are run at timely intervals where the addresses are validated against the addresses in the USPS directories.

To ensure that the jobs being run does not disrupt the business continuity, the validation jobs are triggered at non-critical business hours. The goal is to have minimal to no impact on critical batch jobs.

Scenario 3 – Mail Forwarding

There is a possibility that the customer (or recipient) has temporarily shifted to a new location. The Mail will go undelivered if an attempt is made at the old address. What’s the solution to this problem? It is Mail Forwarding.

In case the customer has requested mail forwarding with USPS services, it can also be handled via weekly batch jobs. Since the updated temporary address is available in the system, the Mail is delivered at the requested address.

This feature is by default taken care of by USPS. In case the temporary address is not updated in the system before the Mail is sent to USPS, the company can keep a track of the Mail for future reference.

In all three scenarios, the TekGeminus team ensured that the critical jobs continued functioning as usual. This was realized by scheduling the batch jobs at non-critical business hours.

Akin to version history, the historical changes in the addresses are preserved in the system along with the relevant metadata (i.e. source of the update, timestamp, etc.).

It’s A Wrap

Non-delivery of Mails can have a long-term negative impact on the growth of the business. Irate customers who have not received the Mails might voice out their unpleasant experience on social media, thereby causing damage to your brand.

The probability of undelivered Mails can reduce drastically if the company invests wisely in Address Validation and Correction. Higher customer retention, improved efficiency, and a positive brand image are some of the long-term benefits of investing in USPS Address Verification.

At TekGeminus, our functional experts with immense technical expertise have successfully provided the solution for validating addresses at source to various clients. The solution is seamlessly integrated with CCB/C2M, thereby keeping all interfacing systems in synchronization.

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