Councils Forge Bond With the USPS

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Several Postal Customer Councils in the Boston-Providence area recently hosted the first National Postal Customer Council in four years. The event was significant in numerous ways, not the least of which was the many attendees and exhibitors there to greet postmaster general John E. Potter.


Potter spoke of the tenuous reform issue to PCC chapters nationwide via a national satellite feed. Afterward, the national PCC board introduced its new educational and growth plan to all 200 councils. This initiative provides real sustenance to the surge of energy that was sparked at the last National Postal Forum.


The plan links PCC growth with industry and postal business growth. It foresees PCC membership emerging as a more formal business alliance among mailers, mail service providers and the U.S. Postal Service. And it envisions substantial benefits associated with such an alliance. Specifically, the national PCC team will support local PCC co-chairs in three areas considered most critical:


· Recruitment of new members.


· Securing more educational workshops.


· Improving mailing list quality.


For example, a comprehensive national PCC database has been built, enabling e-mail communications among all PCCs nationwide. This enhanced infrastructure will assist in implementing the plan's two core strategies - education and growth - with six tactical plans for each.


Education. The education strategy aims to develop, distribute and promote enhanced training programs, workshops, events and educational tools that provide solutions to business needs and improve mailing effectiveness. Tactics developed to achieve this strategy include:


· Promoting use of existing training programs.


· Developing new workshops for PCC clients.


· Expanding the USPS professional certificate program.


· Creating a series of "Grow Your Business With Mail" articles.


· Publishing a series of product and service "feature stories."


· Providing sales support materials and tools that help businesses grow.


Local training and education will be emphasized and enhanced with half-day seminars. Workshops are being developed in a "Meeting-in-a-Box" format that will let PCCs present many successful programs at their own sites with their own presenters.


Growth. The growth strategy aims to implement and leverage network best practices to create business growth opportunities for PCC members and the postal service. The PCC network plan will enable council growth in six ways:


· Create successful PCC events and provide national PCC support.


· Identify local council best practices and disseminate to the PCC network.


· Create a model PCC program for PCCs.


· Develop metrics that measure PCC growth and achievement.


· Nationally recognize local council growth and education achievements.


· Review existing PCC structure to optimize PCC and postal resources.


The plan calls for developing standard operating procedures based on today's successes for such events. For example, a thorough description of the New England Expo that draws local PCCs into a regional event will be provided for all chapters' review. For a program of this caliber to be replicated successfully, complete descriptions of the logistics involved in eliciting cooperation among councils, exhibitors, members, sponsors and others need to be carefully crafted, which is one way the national marketing team can be of tremendous value.


Benchmarks. Success metrics are broken into two categories, qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative measurement will be determined by surveying attitudes of key PCC stakeholders. Just as PCC co-chairs are surveyed, satisfaction of industry and postal members can be measured through survey instruments developed for that purpose.


Quantitative metrics will be a set of numeric evaluators. Just as measurements of new permits and meters, volume and revenue growth are standard in the business context, so too will be benchmarks for the PCCs. Data sets on items such as number of programs and events held, membership growth, Web site visits and the postal service's Customer Satisfaction Measurement program will be accumulated for all councils.


Reinforcing success in the new PCC network will be part of a formalized recognition program developed and monitored by the National Postal Customer Council Advisory Committee. Recognition will be given at national and regional events.


Evaluation of optimal size and scope of the PCC network will be done by those in the customer and industry marketing group at postal headquarters. It will be their job to identify the variables needed for chapter success and the optimum locations for new PCCs.


The key ingredient that will underscore success is the open, eager willingness of the national PCC team to provide assistance at the local level. This translates to having a healthy outreach desire to share time, talent and treasure (knowledge). What a concept.


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