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Does Next-Day Mail Delivery Matter Anymore?

By Florence Connally - Associate Research Director

In this digital age of instant news, I’m sure you have already heard that snail mail is, well, getting even more snail-like. On Monday, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) sought approval to end next-day delivery of first-class mail. That means the fastest a first-class letter will be delivered is two days. This change could take place as early as April 2012.

As a consumer, I couldn’t care less. I have never had the expectation that my letter, if and when I send one, would be in the recipient’s hand the next day. So, it was surprising to read that 42 percent of our mail is delivered in just one day. With the new proposal, 51 percent of first-class mail will arrive in two days instead of one.

What does intrigue me is how the proposed changes to mail delivery will impact utility customer care. Is this the much-needed catalyst to push more people to receive paperless bills and to pay their bills online? Between 2009 and 2010, paperless billing adoption at U.S. and Canadian utilities increased, on average, by 3.7 percent to 11.5 percent and electronic payments increased by 4.4 percent to 43.8 percent. It would be interesting to see how these recent developments will affect the adoption of paperless billing and electronic payments for utilities in 2012 and beyond. Or will the recent USPS ad campaign touting the “safe and secure ways to stay connected” through paper bills and receipts encourage customers to keep buying stamps despite the longer delivery times?

But, the implications aren’t just limited to online services. Will there be increased delinquent payments, an issue AT&T has already raised in light of these proposed changes? The changes are stemming from the USPS, but will utilities need to educate consumers to ensure that the customer experience of those who pay through the postal service isn’t diminished when they end up with a late payment because of the longer delivery times? Or, maybe it won’t matter if most consumers are like me and didn’t realize that a lot of our mail was being delivered in just one day. These are the questions running through my head as I read about the proposed mail-service changes.

How is your company preparing for the longer mail-delivery times? Are you planning to promote paperless billing more aggressively in lieu of the proposed USPS changes? I’m eager for you to share your thoughts below.

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