This month's article describes how some organizations are rediscovering the impact of mail communication in the context of a true multichannel customer conversation.

As mailers prepare for the January 2014 USPS deadline for full-service Intelligent Mail requirement for postal discounts, many organizations continue to plan for improved customer communication models to drive their business.

So how do the seemingly unrelated events of postal compliance and customer experience touch? One of the ways understood by numerous organizations is that mail, which still accounts for the majority of customer €Å"touch point€ events, can be better leveraged with the visibility that the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) can provide.

The full-service IMb can provide critical event triggers into a multichannel conversation model -- beyond simply "I sent the mail."

While some organizations are strong-arming customers to move to electronic communication as a way of reducing tactical mailing costs, others are taking a more customer-focused, customer-preference driven approach. Enhanced customer profiles allow organizations to develop and orchestrate customer conversations that can improve the customer experience by presenting the "best next step" across customer preferred channels.

So what does this have to do with the day in, day out mailing world? Well, consider a monthly customer statement, which is neither the beginning nor the end of a customer relationship. From a customer perspective:

· If you were looking at a company's product or service on a website this week, wouldn't it be helpful if the mailed statement you opened today contained additional relevant information on that same product or service? How convenient would it be to scan a QR barcode on the statement to take you back to that original website?

· If you had a poor customer service experience this week with a company via the call center, could the statement you just opened help repair your relationship by re-enforcing your value as a customer?

· When an important document is expected in your mailbox (especially when you aren't home yet) wouldn't it be helpful to have electronic notification or follow-up on that communication? What if the piece couldn't be delivered? Wouldn't you want to be notified through email or mobile device?

If you answered "yes" to any of those, especially the last one, then your organization should consider leveraging the mail visibility services of Intelligent Mail (i.e., Confirm and ACS) that are a result of the unique ID assignment required in the January 2014 IMb full-service deadline.

Some organizations are considering how mail visibility events (e.g., mailed, delivered to nearest post office, returned/failed and remittance sent) can be continually monitored, converted to conversation events, and fed into customer engagement models to drive proper organization response. Key to these models is to understand customer preferred channels, applications, and devices to drive relevant next actions.

Mailing organizations are encouraged to "have a seat at the table" when new customer experience models are conceived to ensure that mail, especially properly instrumented Intelligent Mail, has the appropriate contribution to these programs.

With less than 50% of overall full-service IMb adoption, the industry has a way to go as the deadline draws closer and hopefully, as part of this final IMb push, additional value of mail communication is driven by multichannel customer communication programs.