Last Wednesday, my husband, John, and I attended a bluegrass music concert at the Missouri State Fair. I did not realize, until it was announced, that this was the first time in the history of the Missouri State Fair a bluegrass band had performed on the large grandstand’s main stage. Joining us at this event were over 400 bluegrass fans and Missouri State Governor, Jay Nixon, who was later announced as a major influence in this concert playing on the main stage. We enjoyed quite an evening of musical showmanship. Three award-winning bands performed, Next Best Thing, Dailey and Vincent and Rhonda Vincent with her band, The Rage. All bands contained members that were related! Rhonda’s two daughters provided the main vocals in their band, Next Best Thing, and Darrin Vincent from Dailey and Vincent is Rhonda’s brother. And, Rhonda’s mother joined her on stage to sing a fun song they used to perform together from their earlier family band called the Sally Mountain Show. Almost all the band members, including the singers played multiple instruments exceptionally well, including the banjo, acoustic guitar, electronic guitar, slide guitar, bass, fiddle and mandolin. Big screens on either side of the stage showed the band members incredible finger picking ability when the wandering cameraman pointed his video camera at them while they played. What craftsmanship, what excellence! It was exciting to be there and participate as a fan in awe. I play the acoustic guitar and after a night of performances like those, it inspired me to work on my finger picking skills more.

I think excellence in any area, whether in sports, entertainment, public service, school, or the work environment is exciting and rewarding to be around. It gives us a good feeling and confirms that we have spent our time and resources wisely. Excellence is inspiring and contagious! And, for many of us, excellence is an on-going growth process.

I’d like to begin a series of E-tips Newsletters that showcase my account managers, Maxine, Shannon, Anita. Each week, for the next several weeks, I’ll briefly highlight an area of focus in which they must demonstrate knowledge to help you feel like you’re being served excellently.

This week, the focus is on four mail piece design questions. Account managers must know what questions to ask customers that will encourage them to accurately describe their direct mail pieces. These four questions help us know the services we’ll be performing to help your mail pieces reach the “mail ready” stage and meet postal regulations:

  • What type of direct mail piece is being sent? Is it a self-mailer, postcard, envelope with inserts, or booklets? Answers to this question will help us price the project correctly, schedule the mailing equipment to be used and know what type of mailing materials we’re either printing, picking up or waiting to be delivered.
  • If it is a self-mailer, where are the creases and open edges located? Answers to this question help us determine postage rates and number and location of closure tabs required
  • If it is an inserted envelope, what type of inserts will be used? Will any of the inserts be personalized? Will any of the inserts need to be folded and what type of fold is desired? Answers to these questions will help schedule the appropriate folding and inserting equipment, as well as the quality control levels to set.
  • What postage payment method is desired—meter, permit indicia or pre-cancelled stamps? Answers to this question will help the account manager schedule their customer postage pre-payment request, will help them know if and when to order stamps from the U.S. Postal Service, and to know if they’re watching for pre-printed indicia information on the mail piece or if they need to indicate on our internal work order that we’re jet inking a permit indicia onto the mailing piece.

Next week, we’ll review several more mail piece design questions account managers ask customers that allow them to understand your specific mailing needs, so that you can look forward to the excellent service you deserve.

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