This is a time of transition for the mailing industry in general, and the USPS is looking at ways to adapt to the new business environment. One of the changes the postal service is considering is a vaguely defined concept known as Seamless Acceptance.
Seamless Acceptance is basically a simplified mail-entry process in which the pieces do not have to be physically verified by a bulk mail entry clerk. Instead, compliance will be measured during processing via the information contained in the Intelligent Mail Barcode. After the presorted mail has gone out, the USPS will send a report card of sorts to the mailer, detailing the level of compliance. Mailers who fail too often to meet postal standards may be charged for lost discounts after the fact.
Personally, I think this could be a good thing for mailers. Entering the mail can be a time-consuming process for both the mailer and the postal service, and streamlining that process could offer several efficiency benefits for both parties.
However, as a mailer, it strikes me that the mail-entry process is also an important component of my company’s relationship with the USPS. While we have good working relationships with postal employees at several levels within the organization, it’s the bulk mail entry clerks whom we see most often. These are the people we interact with regularly, and it is often through them that we first learn of proposed changes and other information relevant to our business. And I am concerned that a stripped-down entry process may be detrimental to those relationships. Seeing an entry clerk on a daily basis builds a relationship through regular face-to-face interaction and creates a personal connection. This connection is beneficial to both the mail shop and the postal service. The entry clerks are regularly exposed to the concerns of their mailers, and the mailers are offered an opportunity to better understand the postal regulations with which they must comply.
That kind of personal interaction will decline if mailers are only required to leave their mail on the dock. I understand that for some larger mailers, the benefits of convenience and speed may be significant, which is why I don’t oppose the idea of Seamless Acceptance in general. However, for some smaller mailers it may be more beneficial to continue physical verification, and maintain the relationships that grow from it.