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CLIENT CASE STUDY


United States Postal Service: Pioneering innovative mail services

Operating for more than 230 years on a maxim of trust, the United States Postal Service (USPS) aims to provide customers with outstanding service.

OVERVIEW

USPS outlined a vision—"to enhance the value of mail by using information and insight from the mail to deliver increased customer value and drive operational efficiency."

To achieve this vision, USPS realized it would need to create robust and resilient business processes and practices, introducing an Intelligent Mail® capability and transforming traditional mailer services. To that end, the Full Service initiative was born.

The Full Service program combines information encoded in the new suite of Intelligent Mail® barcodes with electronic mailing data from customers, plus information about the mail from USPS operations, and mail quality feedback. Mailer-submitted data about the make-up of the mail is then integrated with operational data from the USPS network to create end-to-end insight for both mailers and USPS.

In mid-May 2009, USPS released the Full Service initiative, making USPS the first postal organization in the world to offer national Intelligent Mail®.

Having been offered the incentive to use the new service with free operational data (such as updated address information) and a lower postage rate, mailing companies immediately began submitting electronic documentation and inducting Full Service mailings. Subsequent releases in November 2009 and March 2010 added new electronic mailing data options to begin to use piece-level data to measure service performance.

"Full Service is helping us reshape the horizon, not just for our business but for the whole postal industry,” said Tom Day, Senior VP of Intelligent Mail® and Address Quality and co-lead for the program at USPS. “A range of features offer us a whole new platform of services so that we can introduce product innovations like dynamic pricing and create new value-driven interactions with our customers."

OPPORTUNITY

Economic volatility aside, the postal industry is challenged by many different pressures—diversification, substitution, declining mail volumes and structural changes in the industry to name a few. Alongside fundamental changes in technology and commerce, USPS has found itself competing in an environment where information about the mail is valued by large business mailers as being of almost equal importance as the mail itself.

There were four aspects of the Intelligent Mail® vision that USPS sought to address with Full Service:

  • Measure and improve commercial mail performance: Establish robust measurement capabilities to assess the performance of commercial mail and drive service improvements.

  • Drive product innovation: Use the power of Intelligent Mail® to create products that enhance the value of mail.

  • Enrich the customer experience: Strengthen relationships with customers by using Intelligent Mail® data to enhance verification and mail quality and to become more proactive in communicating and addressing issues.

  • Sharpen operational insight: Develop focused analytics that provide insight into operations and a clear understanding of cost drivers.

Because of the importance and magnitude of change this transformation would entail, USPS knew there would be challenges to implementing Full Service. These included:

  • Pace—With a first release completed in just seven months, major business changes and systems development had to be undertaken at speed.

  • Breadth—The project involved multiple divisions within USPS, considerable changes for their customers and technology development driven by more than 10,000 requirements across 18 systems.

  • Communications—Despite the scale and speed, keeping everyone up-to-date and clear about the requirements, what mailers needed to do and when changes would be operational, was essential. Full Service initiated a significant process change affecting a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders.

SOLUTION

Full Service was more than a reconfiguration of the USPS business; it was a milestone in the transformation of the whole postal industry.

Having worked with USPS on a proof-of-concept since 2006, it was a natural fit for the postal organization to choose Accenture to implement the Full Service program. What is more, backed by a solid history of postal experience and a decade of working together, Accenture brought a combination of program management, technology, process and change skills combined with deep understanding of the postal industry.

A recognized leader in systems integration, Accenture offered USPS a reliable, large-scale, experienced team capable of delivering technology-enabled business results on an accelerated schedule.

USPS’ decision to embrace an ambitious project for cutting-edge mail capabilities had implications from both postal and technology perspectives:

  • Postal: Transforming the value of mail while setting a new standard for conducting traditional business mail transactions. Intelligent Mail® uses mailing data to deliver insight to customers, create new products and services that make mail more valuable to customers, move the organization toward a more customer-centric approach, and provide operational insight necessary to drive efficiency.

  • Technology: Employing a state-of-the-art platform that leverages the performance and reliability of a mainframe and the flexibility and low total cost of ownership of the Linux operating system. Deployed to this platform is a custom architecture that utilizes industry-leading data processing, integration and database applications. The system is architected to process more than 1 billion Intelligent Mail® barcode scans per day and store detailed, transaction-level data for 45 days.

RESULT

In mid-May 2009, USPS released the Full Service initiative, making USPS the first postal organization in the world to offer national Intelligent Mail®. Having been offered the incentive to use the new service with free operational data (such as updated address information) and a lower postage rate, mailing companies immediately began submitting electronic documentation and inducting Full Service mailings.

Subsequent releases in November 2009 and March 2010 added new electronic mailing data options to begin to use piece-level data to measure service performance.

Adoption has been rapid, with electronic data submissions totaling more than US$200 million in postage per week as of January 2010 and rising. In that same time period, the program averaged more than 500 million pieces of Full Service mail per week with continued significant growth, such that total volume through the system has already surpassed 7 billion pieces. 

With a backlog of mailers working through the certification process, Full Service has been one of the most successful new products USPS has ever launched.

USPS and Accenture delivered the Full Service solution in record time; indeed, 60,000 days of work were completed in an accelerated seven-month time frame as a result of the robust program governance and the “one-team” mindset adopted from the outset. Furthermore, USPS and Accenture are moving ahead with future enhancements and further development of the Full Service capabilities.

By transforming the business to better create operational efficiencies without having to alter existing rate structures, USPS is taking an intelligent approach to accelerated change that places it firmly on the path to high performance.