The Hidden Costs of Handling Mail and Documents Manually
Businesses need to process incoming mail so that documents or items reach the recipient as quickly as possible, with minimal damage or manual intervention...
Businesses need to process incoming mail so that documents or items reach the recipient as quickly as possible, with minimal damage or manual intervention. Getting it right means less manual effort and faster responses to customers or opportunities. Failure to overcome this logistical challenge however, can have an extremely detrimental impact on operations and even profitability.
Key Mail Handling Issues
Issues can arise due to the inefficiencies of handling paper items. Paper is easy to lose, needs to be physically processed, must be filed (especially financial documentation for compliance reasons) and of course retrieved. Keeping track of paper documents as they are distributed and processed is much harder than digital documents. An array of manual processes and logs are required to ensure the speed of delivery and processing, to highlight elapsed times, understand delivery status and alerts or make efficiency improvements. The result is a multitude of difficult to manage processes, with limited integration, that do little to mitigate the risks of losing, misfiling and damaging mail items.
Poor handling processes can have a negative effect beyond the mail room such as:
- Slow response times can have a disastrous impact on customer satisfaction levels and when it is considered that 86% of consumers have quit doing business with a company because of a poor customer experience, then it pays to respond quickly.
- Productivity can seriously suffer when the time spent opening, distributing, processing, filing and retrieving documents is added up. In fact it’s estimated that it takes on average 18 minutes to locate a document, just think about the time that is being wasted in total!
- With so many documents to manage and store, storage costs can also become an issue quickly. Filing cabinets use up valuable office space and offsite storage and retrieval costs can quickly mount up.
- Additional costs can also feature, such as postage costs resulting from wasted mailings due to a failure to record undeliverable mail, staffing costs on wasted time or the value of lost items and perishable goods. It is estimated that switching to a paperless office can result in a 60-70% reduction in costs associated with record management.
What’s the Answer?
Put simply the answer is to move away from manual processing for more automated methods. These can range in scale and purpose but can include basic letter opening machines that can open at least 300 envelopes a minute, scanners that snap a document for electronic storage or handheld scanners that log items, documents and returns through simple barcodes. They can also be higher up the scale like full electronic document management solutions which digitise, extract data from documents or emails, route through pre-established workflows, automatically archive and retrieve documents through search and process online via remote terminals.
But with electronic document management solutions and technologies which rapidly increase incoming mail handling capability, it is also vital not to overlook the first stage of the process. Letter openers are a suitable solution, which are available with various levels of speed and complexity depending on the business requirements; some letter openers (such as the Neopost IM-20/25) are focused on opening letters as quickly as possible, while others (the IM-75 for example) have features that open and extract the contents of mail items so they can be opened and scanned in a seamless process. Ultimately, it is about matching each solution to the immediate business needs and the scale of the incoming mail demands.
When Do Mail Handling Issues Become a Problem?
Although many businesses would benefit from automation, the scale of solution varies according to the volume and type of incoming items and the business challenge faced:
- A large number of customers or prospects usually means a large number of mail items to be processed.
- If there are a high number of transactions being carried out in businesses such as wholesalers, builders, merchants and auto factors, there are often many invoices, orders and correspondence.
- If the value of the people involved in processing documents is high, such as a solicitor with a high hourly rate, any savings from reducing the time spent handling mail is multiplied immensely.
- If high value items like parcels are regularly received it makes sense to invest in tracking technology, particularly in larger organisations where items are easily mislaid.
Of course, most companies would agree that they probably have too much physical paperwork, which can lead to losing or misfiling items and subsequently compliance or customer satisfaction issues. In most cases electronic document management solutions offer great value, while in others, parcel tracking, returned mail management software or letter openers will be useful, but when it is considered that an entry level letter opener can cost as little as a couple of pounds per day, then the value of automating mail processes should be considered.
If you would like further information about how we can improve your mail process, you can call Neopost on 1850 33 44 55.