Cover Story: Sprint Saves Green
"That helped reduce our paper purchase," Swan says. Six months later, "once we had all the groundwork in place, we kicked off the ecoEnvelope project."
From January to October 2011, Sprint "ramped up, designed, refined, tested, got all the approvals from 12 external organizations and eight internal organizations," and watched the green mail idea find solid ground.
Watching It Grow
In January 2011, Swan worked with the outside partners to create envelope samples. He already knew, based on engineering and operational checks, what the envelope's physical limitations were and he was ready for feedback. Swan started bringing the envelope prototypes around to various internal departments to get input from stakeholders as diverse as brand, collections, corporate responsibility, legal, supply chain management, marketing and IT.
"That was the fun part about it, because it built lasting relationships across the company," Swan says.
If he ended up needing help, for instance, with using an icon or a graphic in a particular way, he could go talk to brand about it and find a solution.
"Our corporate responsibility team was actively engaged and they were very early partners in this," he says. The team suggested the envelopes have the environmental claim in green, "and that was the first time Sprint had ever used an external 'green' message on a billing statement or on an envelope, which is pretty interesting when you think that Sprint is currently ranked No. 3 on Newsweek's "Green Rankings" … This was an opportunity to really show our customers a key example of Sprint's commitment."
In August 2011, Sprint conducted eight focus group meetings to gauge end-user sentiment on the new envelopes. Swan says he learned that some customers will always want printed bills, because they use "their envelope as a filing cabinet within a filing cabinet." Members of those groups overwhelmingly said to use the old billing envelopes to include notice of the upcoming envelope change and instructions for its use, but just immediately prior to the update—or a month before each customer received the new envelope.