2D or Not 2D; That is the question.

2DBlog (1)

What’s that black square beside the Recipient address?

The little back square visible on some documents near the mailing address is called a 2D or two dimensional bar-code.  It is not yet on all of our mail pieces, but most of them (such as Express Letters, Certified Letters, Postcards, and many others).  It is currently being rolled out in phases to ultimately appear on all mail that goes through our building.

It’s not a traditional bar-code that is composed of various parallel lines, but instead is made up of tiny squares which allow a lot of information to be packed into a smaller space than other types of bar-codes.

But why is it on your mail?  This code is used by our high speed scanning equipment to make sure that we account for all the mail that our customers ask us to send out.  The 2D code shows through the window of an envelope (or appears next to addresses on postcards, fliers, flats, etc.) which allows us to see, at very high speeds, that each document went into its own envelope.  This system gives us detailed information so we can further prove that we are doing a great job for our clients.

2D or not 2D? Yes, it has been a philosophical debate for us to decide whether or not this is the right answer.  Because as it is, our mail is nearly perfect already.  Of all the jobs that we print and mail, over 99.99% are perfect.  (Yes, we can say this to you, because we know you will call us out if we are not telling the truth and because, well, we keep track.)  This 2D system is costly, but it is being implemented to give us greater insight into every piece of mail that travels through our facility.  Do we need this system?  Maybe not.  But do we think every one of our customers deserves perfect mail each and every time? Do we believe we can make more than 9,999 of 10,000 jobs perfect? Absolutely yes to both questions.

So if you are like us, wrestling with the appearance of a 2D bar-code on your mail piece, now you know why we thought it would be the best answer.

LetterStream Learns – Internal Training Brand

LetterStream Learns BrandWe had a fun day today.  Well, we probably have fun most days, but today we launched our new internal training brand; LSLearns.  LetterStream always wants to develop, and cultivate an internal culture of learning to go along with our already “fast and perfect mail” mantra and our “mad customer love” vision for customer service.

It is our belief that as employees grow and learn they start to discover their unique talents that can unlock a tremendous amount of capability.  David, our President, is often heard saying that inside everyone is a hidden super power that can manifest itself in the workplace in amazing ways.  LSLearns is an attempt to formalize our belief that people, when awakened in the right way, can do amazing things.

Some skeptics may say, “Ah, this is just an attempt to squeeze more productivity out of people”.  We might respond; “Sure! Sort of.” After all, what’s wrong with more productivity? But “squeeze” probably doesn’t capture the essence of our training efforts, instead we might use the word “foster”. By creating training, learning and growing opportunities we allow our employees to decide how much effort to put into their own career development plan, and hopefully inspire them along the way to be excellent at whatever it is they are doing.

Leader of Leaders and Learner of Learners, Kay Coleman, helped us launch the day, and our new brand, by leading us through some activities to engage our minds in different ways.  Kay has been an active learner, teacher and facilitator for most of her life, was Program Director with iLeadAZ – a program developed to lead school principals to greater success, and now provides consulting services to companies (like ours!).  Thanks Kay, for coming along side us with our passion for learning!

USPS Certified Mail Signature Delay

 

Certified Mail Return Receipt Delays ERR

USPS Delays ERR…

We are noticing delays in the speed at which the USPS returns electronic signatures for Certified Mail that are requested on their website, www.USPS.com. In a recent test (shown above), it was 48 hours before a signature was provided via email by the Postal Service.

As a quick refresher, if you need to get the signature for a piece of Certified Mail that you sent through the USPS, you typically need to follow these steps: Find your USPS cash register receipt with the tracking number, go to the United States Postal Service website (www.USPS.com), enter the tracking number from your receipt, click the link called “Return Receipt Electronic”, and enter your email address. Keep in mind, just because you see the link called “Return Receipt Electronic”, doesn’t mean your letter was delivered. If you click the link before a signature is available you’ll receive a response from the USPS (in maybe 2 days), but it will just tell you that a signature is not available yet. …That’s a bummer.

When you are dealing with the urgency and legal concerns that necessitate the use of Certified Mail with Return Receipt, you don’t always have time to wait around a few days for a signature the be emailed back to you.  If your attorney calls and says they need the signature, you want to get it right then.

Faster with LetterStream…

Here’s quite possibly a better way, let LetterStream handle your Certified Mail.  If you send your certified letters through our service you can retrieve a signature in a fraction of a second, maybe a half second on a slow day.  That’s assuming that the USPS has delivered the letter and collected a signature, of course.  You don’t have to find your receipt and you don’t have to enter a 20-digit tracking number, you simply click on the button that says “view”, which activates after we receive the signature from the USPS.

Ah, you might say, “but LetterStream has to wait on the USPS too”.  Well, that is partly true, but our automated servers are always communicating with USPS servers and as soon as we find signatures to the letters we print and mail for our clients, we save them to your account on our website. It’s kinda like having someone in your office (that you don’t pay) go out and check everyday for every certified letter that you still need a signature for and then save them on your network in the same folder as the letter that you sent.  In this way, if we do have a signature for your letter, you can get to it immediately.

Getting your Certified Mail signatures at LetterStream…

After you load your Certified Mail letter to our website, we print it, fold it, insert it into our proprietary USPS approved Certified Mail envelope and put it in the mail for you, without you ever needing to leave your home or office.

You can search for the status of your letters very quickly on our website by clicking on the job name (whatever name you want to assign to your mailing to help you identify it later) and the recipient name, or you can simply search by any part of the recipient’s name or address. Unlike sending Certified Mail at the local Post Office, you don’t have to keep a receipt with the tracking number because all of this information is saved neatly into your LetterStream account.

So, if you are ever in a hurry, or simply hate to wait, use LetterStream to get instant access to the status of your Certified Mail signatures and tracking information.

 

(learn more on our help pages)  (learn more on our website)

Happy Halloween from LetterStream!

Halloween at Letterstream
Halloween at Letterstream

We had our annual Halloween costume contest yesterday and had a lot of fun and with costumes.  If you called in to speak with us about your mailing project yesterday, we apologize for the ghostly noises that you may have heard in the background.

We are always a little surprised when no one dresses up like a mailman, but we had a lot of participation this year.  Here’s hoping your Halloween is both safe and fun!

So Long Go Daddy – LetterStream moves to the Amazon Cloud

LetterStream turned off dedicated servers at Go Daddy today and moved to the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS). We’ve enjoyed our time with Go Daddy over the past dozen years, but it’s time for us to move on to a more powerful and hopefully more reliable network and hosting partner.

As you are probably keenly aware, we like excellence. We thrive on it. We love offering it. We love getting it. It’s just who we are. Because excellence is in our DNA, we need strategic partners who are like minded in their pursuit of perfection.

The most recent Go Daddy outage that impacted us happened just today, June 22, 2015. The prior outage we experienced was June 9th. On both occasions Go Daddy didn’t know our dedicated servers were unavailable. Today, after being left in the dark about the status of their network and being in queue for 30 minutes for a server reset, we felt the need to re-evaluate why only our backup servers were operating in AWS.

so long go daddy
source: www.downdetector.com

In pursuit of uptime perfection we’ve officially decided to move our primary servers to AWS. This move should deliver greater availability as well as scalability, both of which are designed to give you comfort with your choice of LetterStream as your print and mail partner.

Amazon Web Services
source: www.downdetector.com

Please know that we are around for you. We don’t want to hide behind long chat queues, or multiple tiers of technical support, nor do we want to partner with organizations who are not mindful of how important you are to us. We are optimistic that this migration will allow us to continue to offer the outstanding service that you deserve.

 

Toys for Tots 2013 Update

Toys for Tots toy drive

Santa at Toys for Tots eventThe Toys for Tots event at DC Ranch in Scottsdale was a huge success! It was a warm, sunny day, and a spirit of giving must have been in the air… the Marines collected more than 20 jumbo boxes of toys; enough to fill an entire U-Haul truck!

The event was complete with Christmas carolers, great food, photo ops with Santa, an antique toy auction, plenty of hot chocolate, and lots of smiles all around.

Just like last year, I was blown away by the generosity of our team. This year LetterStream giving was up by 50%Way to go guys!

As the Marines filled the U-Haul truck with toys, I couldn’t help but think of the joy it would bring to kids in need this holiday season.

A special thanks to Grimaldi’s and American Family Insurance who sponsored the event. And thanks to all who came out and participated.

We hope to see an even bigger crowd next year!