Susan Plonkey on the Challenges that Face the USPS and Direct Mail
At the National Postal Forum, held from May 18 to 20 in Anaheim, Calif., more than 7,000 industry professionals came together to discuss, even confront, the myriad challenges that face both the United States Postal Service and direct mail, as well as our collective customers. It became clear that big challenges, such as environmental concerns, are actively being addressed, while others—the climbing price of oil along with a faltering economy—are exerting new pressures.
Fortunately, after speaking with Susan Plonkey, USPS vice president of customer service, it became clear that the Postal Service, for its part, has a plan.
Ethan Boldt: Was the “Xtreme Performance” theme linked to the fact that, as Postmaster General John Potter told the crowd during his keynote address, we’ve never “had as much going on in terms of major issues at any one time as we have right now”?
Susan Plonkey: The selection of this year’s theme, Xtreme Performance, was intended to focus on the dramatic changes at hand as well as how the Postal Service is pushing the envelope on technology, innovation and efficiency.
Mail is changing like never before. Changes in federal law have fundamentally improved USPS operations. The new pricing process, service standards, performance measurement systems and operational enhancements are all designed to provide our customers even greater success using the mail.
Using full-service Intelligent Mail Barcodes does more for mailers, faster than ever before. Sweeping changes have arrived in how the Postal Service processes flat mail. Automation that successfully boosted postal efficiencies in the processing, distribution and delivery of letter mail is now being applied to “flats”—large envelopes, magazines, catalogs and circulars. A new technology, the Flats Sequencing System (FSS), will automatically sort flat-sized mail into delivery point sequence at high speeds.
EB: Potter also said that “despite the challenging economy, one thing that hasn’t changed is America’s confidence in the mail.” Do you agree with that assessment?
SP: I absolutely agree with this statement. We’ve faced challenging economic conditions before. But despite the ups and downs in the market, the mail consistently delivers value to the American people. Mail and technology help businesses connect with customers on their terms and drive results that positively impact the bottom line. Mail gets attention like no other medium. People open it. They look at it. They remember it. They act on it.