Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To Change or Not to Change? There is No Question

Words From Dennis P. LeStrange, President and CEO, Neopost USA

Our world is changing. And by “our world,” I mean the industry that we all respect and depend upon. And by “we,” I mean every industry leader, every industry employee and every person who depends upon an industry employee. 

You’ve heard and read about the issues we face: The United States Postal Service is facing historic declines in volume; customers can’t or won’t pay for new or upgraded hardware or value-add services; the mail industry is at a crossroads.  

Well, yes and no.   

More Efficient and Productive Ways to Transact and Communicate

The leaders and employees of Neopost USA have faced these exact issues. After carefully assessing the new industry landscape, we believe that the USPS will not go bankrupt; that customers are increasingly going to seek more efficient and productive ways to transact and communicate; and that our business is changing. It will be different tomorrow and it will change again the day after and the day after that. 

I’m also working with several key business assumptions:

  • I believe that mail remains one of the most secure, trusted and cost-effective media for reaching customers in the business-to-business milieu;
  • that the volume of first-class mail will continue to decline;
  • that the volume of standard mail will continue to rise slowly;
  • that the parcels sector will continue to grow
  • and that an increasing numbers of consumers will switch to online bill payment whether they like it or not because commercial enterprises will eventually stop sending and accepting paper. 

The main question before us is "How do we serve customers so that they stay with us?".

This addresses the issue of retaining customers and maintaining business relationships. The obvious follow-up question focuses on developing, building and expanding our customer base. How do we adapt our business model so that customers recognize us as the solution, not the problem?  

A Six-Letter Word for “Transform”

I have one word that says it all: change. Everyone in the mail industry has to change – change methods, change perceptions, change attitude, change expectations. Gary Reblin, the USPS’ Vice President, Domestic Products, tells me that the Postal Service is adapting to the digital world by promoting innovation and taking what he calls the “scary” out of mail. The Postal Service is aware that it has to develop a strategy to influence the inevitable fact of electronic documents, digital transmission and mobile receptacles. If the USPS is going to change, then so should the rest of the industry. 

You need three fundamental contingencies to change effectively: a solid and achievable plan, strong leadership and employee buy-in.  

Mail is Personal Communication Delivered by an Automated Communication Processes

We’re fortunate at Neopost USA. Our plans are simple and direct. We are differentiating ourselves in the market. We have innovative and technically superior new products to introduce. We are streamlining our processes for the benefit of our customers. We have augmented our leadership ranks with a new cadre of unusually dynamic and confident decision-makers.  

Most importantly, however, Neopost USA listens to what our customers tell us. They have redefined the entity we used to know as “mail.” Today, our customers think “mail” is personal communication delivered by an automated communication processes. Method of delivery does not matter to them: a box, an envelope or an e-mail received in a mailbox, on a laptop or by telephone – it’s all mail.

Understanding the new customer mindset is just one of the advantages Neopost USA brings to business relationships. Our people know how to deliver exactly the business solution our customers need to manage their mail and parcels regardless of how they are delivered now or will be delivered in the future.  

The Mailing Industry Is Not Dead

The USPS is not going away. Forecasts predict that 125 billion pieces of mail will still be sent in 2020. The parcel business is expanding – an inviting growth arena. Online business mail transactions (beyond e-commerce) will continue to gain ground.
Knowing all that, it’s up to us to identify and exploit new opportunities in our morphing industry. I believe Neopost USA can enter into some beneficial strategic partnerships. I know that innovation and technology offer boundless opportunities. I am sure we can thrive in emerging business sectors – shipping, software development and electronic document handling to name just three. 

The mailing industry is far from dead. It’s just changing. We have a choice. We can react and stay locked into a perpetual game of catching-up to customers’ technology-driven appetites or we can lead the future of our industry with innovative solutions for moving business communications that our customers want, need and will pay for.  

We chose to lead.


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