USPS pushes technology to improve services

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Patrick Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS
Patrick Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) maintains an ongoing push to use better data and technologies to improve services amid digital competition, said Patrick Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS, during the keynote at the National Postal Forum in Orlando, Fla., on April 2.

“I don't think we're old school, nor do I think we can afford to be,” Donahoe said. “We need to change and evolve. I think of mail as a data and technology center.” He added that mail, unlike other marketing channels like digital, print and television, is chiefly about driving ROI. “When it's targeted,” he said, “it gets to every household. It is the best way to drive a consumer purchasing decision, the best way to get people to go to the website, and to connect with customers to strengthen brand relations.” In a video presentation on direct mail at the USPS booth at NPF, the agency claimed that 98% of consumers bring mail in every day and that 77% look at their mail immediately.

Because mail is a tactile medium, it is a fundamentally different way of communicating than other channels, Donahoe said. He emphasized that it is important to keep that key differentiator, while at the same time integrating services with other communication channels. He alluded to Apple's continuing work developing smart television sets. “But what if your mail can interact with a smart TV?” Donahoe asked. “What if it can interact with your brand? What if people can manage their mailing information on a smartphone?”

To drive these changes, Donahoe said the USPS is focusing on four key business challenges: strengthening the business-to-consumer channel by promoting to businesses the value consumers see in mail; growing the package business by improving scanning and adding services, such as product returns for retailers; becoming “leaner, faster and smarter” with technologies such as the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB), which enhances tracking information; and improving the customer experience by investing in training and adding new, technology-based capabilities.

The USPS has been consistently adding services, such as 2D codes on mailers and improved services targeting SMBs, to drive business, especially given its recent financial troubles.

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