There have been shifts in the fundamentals of mailing. These shifts have provided space in the collection industry for experimentation, which could potentially lead to more payments. The experiments have lead to technological innovation as well as simple observations that can make big waves. One of the welcome fundamental shifts has been in the price of postage.

“I am not sure I can ever recall seeing a decrease in postage, but in 2016 USPS had to remove the exigent surcharge pricing giving us a 4.3% average reduction in postage cost,” said Christian Kropac, president of PCI Group. “Now is the time to reinvest this cost savings back into your letter communication with your customer and take advantage of some of the mail service features that can help maximize your return in your letter strategy.”

The change in postage will hopefully lead to time to research alternative methods of creating and distributing mail. One such adjustment could be changing the location of letter printing to better suit a letter campaign’s needs.

“To combat declining USPS delivery speed, receivables management organizations should consider nationwide, multi-facility production networks which enable printed communication to be created at the point closest to the consumer,” said Tim Schriner, CEO of RevSpring. “Common sense dictates that consumers will receive documents more quickly if the communication is inserted into the USPS mail stream in the same region as the consumer.”

The years of observing trends in mail appearance has perhaps made consumers wary of particular markings. This makes the outside of a mail piece crucial as it delivers the first impression delivered to the consumer. Therefore every mark must be rethought.

“Over the past few years a shift has taken place in the way postage is displayed on envelopes. Since stamps aren’t a viable option, the way it is displayed is called a meter mark or a preprinted Indicia box,” said Kevin Gaffer, CEO of Renkim. “It is important to note, that one of the first items a consumer sees on the outside of the envelope is the postage mark in the upper right hand corner. Consumers view a meter mark as an important, more legal looking document… The meter mark heightens the awareness of consumers and debtors that the contents inside the envelope are important and mission critical.” According to Gaffer, “an indicia in the consumer’s eyes looks more like advertising or junk mail and is less likely to be opened. The meter mark has a higher open rate, which hopefully leads to more calls to liquidate the account.”

As everyone’s world has grown more and more digital, creating a link between a letter and a consumer’s digital world is a frontier vigorously explored recently.

“Making letters easy to understand for debtors and removing roadblocks to payment are an ongoing struggle for collectors,” said Thomas McGahey, president of High Cotton. “We all know that debtors are, on average, receiving late notices and collection letters from five other billers. The best way to win the payer’s attention (and wallet) is to provide the most convenient payment options.

“One of the most effective ways to do so is to encourage what we call “paper-to-payment,” where the debtor can easily make a mobile payment the first time he touches the document. QR codes allow the debtor to quickly validate and pay on their mobile phone without going through an extensive and frustrating data entry process.”

Gone are the days of putting a letter in the mail and guessing when a payment may come back. A shift in mail tracking can now provide collection professionals feedback on the progression of the letter and the payment through the system.

“Another emerging tactic is tracking not only outbound mail, but also the remittance,” said Don Landrum, CEO of Source- Link. “By integrating inbound mail tracking with BREs (business Reply envelopes) collectors can actually see if a payment is headed back in the mail, thus negating the need for a premature email or phone call follow-up. Inbound mail tracking can also help account for cash flow needs and staffing costs. Furthermore, inbound mail tracking can make post-mailing analysis a breeze, as information can be arranged in a convenient dashboard or spreadsheet. Utilizing the upcoming USPS transition to “informed visibility” combined with inbound mail tracking allows you the opportunity to get nearly real-time monitoring of all of your collections activity.”

Innovations in mail entry, envelope markings, payments and tracking have made letters evermore useful in compliant collection strategies.