Once again, the mailing industry finds itself standing in the batter's box, facing a Roger Clemens fastball, minus a batting helmet. May of 2007 brings us the implementation of the proposed USPS rate case with it's cacophony of changes and increases. Even USPS officials refer to the changes to rates and preparation requirements as a "monster." The mailing industry has been uneasily consumed with conversing and debating the merits and demerits of the postal proposals for many months. Our focus on the rate case has allowed that dangerous fastball with "CASS-DPV Cycle L" written on it to make its way straight for our unprotected head(s) without even entering our field of vision.
ZIP+4 is OUT and DPV is IN
Your new DPV encoding software will definitely consume many times more space on your computer systems and will probably process many times slower. The DPV database of delivery points is much larger than the ZIP+4 database of address ranges. And the DPV software must search harder to find a valid existing address compared to the ZIP+4 searching, which only had to find the placement of an address within a range of addresses. ZIP+4 encoding is the equivalent of locating the electrical aisle in a Home Depot. And DPV encoding is similar to locating a 15-Amp Female U-Ground Straight Blade Cord Connector on a shelf in the electrical aisle.
How will this effect your company? The reality is that you will not know until you test the software with your own lists on your own computer systems. Encoding processing times will probably be the most troublesome. Hardware will have to be enhanced because it will typically take twice as long to DPV-encode a list. Maybe three times longer? If your production times and costs will increase dramatically, how will your pricing be adjusted? Certainly, your costs will be much higher than they are now.
If you want to increase your processing speeds, consider purchasing a second or a third computer system. Remember to contact your CASS software vendor and enquire about the costs of additional licenses. Since the DPV database is so much larger, you may have to invest in a DVD drive because the data may no longer be coming to you on a single CD. Some vendors may be sending you the database on multiple CDs that you will have to load onto your system.
Mailing lists that are passed through the CASS-DPV process will receive multiple return codes, markers or flags that can be invaluable in performing very basic mailing list maintenance. Again, check with your software vendor because the DPV return codes may or may NOT be the same as your current ZIP+4 return codes.
CASS-DPV processing policies and procedures that customers should incorporate:
1. Always ask for the DPV counts from your list processor.
2. Consider deleting any records that can't be Delivery Point Validated from any mailing list.
3. Ask for a listing of return codes or flags from your CASS processor, and work with the various codes to improve the general hygiene of your mailing lists.
4. Have your mailing list NCOALink (FSP) processed on a scheduled basis.
5. Check CASS-DPV encoding rates before ordering print quantities or determining
a mailing class.
dresses must be mailed to. You will not be able to claim any barcode discounts. No DPV = No Discounts.
6. If renting a list from a broker, only include (and pay for) addresses that have been Delivery Point Validated. Require CASS-DPV documentation accompany the list.
CASS-DPV processing policies and procedures that service providers should incorporate:
1. Always provide your client with a hard copy of CASS-DPV encoding results.
2. Ask for specific instructions for the handling of unencoded addresses. Delete, suppress or allow to remain in the list?
3. Inform the customer of the financial ramifications of leaving the bad addresses in the list. Include print, processing and postage costs in your calculations and don't forget response rates. Rates will automatically increase because of the elimination of the bad addresses.
4. Get specific instructions in writing with a signature if the customer insists that undeliverable addresses remain in their mailing lists.
Recommended Action Items Timeframe: 10-30 days
and ask when you can expect to have the
new CASS-DPV software in-house.
Consider contacting your mailing software
vendor to see if it can assist in the evaluation.
to customer service, data processing and
mailing to accommodate new CASS-
related websites/forums on a daily basis.
(MFSA): 703-836-9200, 800-333-6272,
www.MFSAnet.org; and Association for
Postal Commerce (PostCom): 703-524-
Recommended Action Items
bids and proposals.
will be worth your increased costs.
once your mail hits the USPS mail stream
if not barcoded.
zations (PostCom, MFSA, PCC, etc.),
and ask questions about the educational
readiness of the business mail entry clerks
at your postal facility.
Let USPS Be the Bad Guy
Meet with your customers and provide them with the following USPS document:
By sharing this document, you lend credibility to the request to perform more services for your clients. After all, you are acting as an upstanding member of the mailing community and are following the new rules. Chances are that if you don't share the info with your customers, your competitors will be happy to do it for you.
Back to that CASS-DPV fastball. Very few mailers will successfully take advantage of all that DPV brings to your company and your customers and hit the ball out of the park for a home run. The opportunity does exist, however, and it certainly can happen. For most of us, these DPV requirements, coinciding with the rate case will, undoubtedly, have that fastball hit us on the body somewhere. The last line of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem, "Casey At The Bat" is, "But there is no joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey has struck out." Striking out is much better than taking a career-ending hit to the temple.
CASS-DPV is coming. Watch for it. Use it. Embrace it. Share it inside and outside your company. Capitalize on it. Stay in the mailing game, and live to play another day.
Mary Ann Bennett is President and CEO of The Bennett Group. Call 877-743-3379, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.the-bennett-group.com.