USPS has been testing Extended Mail Forwarding for only about a year, but the service is already a hit with customers.
“It’s very successful, beyond what we had projected,” said Liz Flake, a senior address management support analyst who is part of team that developed the service.
So far, 1.1 million customers have signed up for Extended Mail Forwarding, which allows customers to pay a fee to have their permanent Change of Address mail forwarded for up to 18 months.
USPS introduced the service as a two-year market test last August in a few districts before expanding the test nationally in October.
However, because the national test of Extended Mail Forwarding started after the busy May-to-August period when many customers traditionally submit address change requests as they move to new residences, this summer will arguably be the first full test of consumer interest in the service.
Customers who want the service pay $19.95 (for a six-month extension of forwarding), $29.95 (for a 12-month extension of forwarding) or $39.95 (for an 18-month extension of forwarding).
Most customers request the six-month option, according to Tiffany Jesse, the product implementation manager who is tracking the service’s metrics.
“When customers submit a Change of Address request, we have some promotional language that encourages them to take advantage of Extended Mail Forwarding,” Jesse said.
She added that USPS saw the service “as an opportunity. Most customers assumed the permanent Change of Address meant that all of their contacts would be updated with their new address. As we know, that’s not always the case.”
Added Starlene Blackwood, an address technology manager: “A lot of customers don’t realize they only get mail forwarding for one year. After that, the mail is returned to sender, but the customer may not know that’s happening.”
There have been instances where customers were unaware important pieces of mail were returned to sender, Blackwood said.
“For instance, insurance documents and tax documents, which are sent yearly, were missed and customers didn’t know the mail was returned. So that’s where Extended Mail Forwarding comes in. It gives the customer an opportunity to get additional forwarding beyond the usual one year,” she said.
The market test still has another year to go and several hurdles to clear before it can become a permanent USPS offering, Jesse said.
“We have to meet our revenue goal and then an analysis is done on any customer issues during the test. So, there are a couple steps,” she said.
Nevertheless, Extended Mail Forwarding already looks like a winner.
Said Flake: “It was one of those things that you really didn’t know if customers would buy into it or not. But it is very successful. We are really excited about it.”