Cover Story: Sprint Saves Green
The initial comments, though, were the most telling.
"Their first reaction was, 'Oh, you're just doing it to save money,'" Swan says. "Well, yes. We will save money. But there's also an environmental savings here, as well. And when we told them that we were willing to make an investment to do this, that kind of took them back."
Swan says his main concern, polished to a gloss during his 23 years at Sprint, was that the final version of the envelope work in the machines. "It runs the same way in the equipment, and that's one of the things that I was an absolute stickler for, because of my operations background. We want to inspire others to adopt it, so it can't be too difficult to implement."
Testing, Testing, 6x9
Sprint's marketing and collections teams had weighed in on which wireless customers should receive the new, lighter bills in thepilot program.
"We selected a segment to pilot test with our customers," Swan says. "It was one cycle that met the characteristics of our baseline customer demographic."
Once Sprint found customers who fit the bill, 300,000 received a notice in September 2011 that in October 2011 they'd see the new envelopes.
Swan says the three-month pilot received another lucky break: Sprint sends bills to different batches of customers based on monthly billing cycles.
"It just so happened that we had an entire cycle that met that criteria," Swan says of the mid-month test group. "So we were able to mail to an entire cycle without having to segment within a billing cycle."
Swan also wanted to make sure customers understood the process, so he set up safeguards. Sprint watched for "white mail," or an unusually high number of customers using their own envelopes to return payment—perhaps indicating that they'd gotten frustrated with the new envelopes. Plus, Sprint looked for changes in e-bill adoption, which might also indicate customer confusion.