Last week, I was visiting with friends I hadn’t seen for a while. While catching up on each other’s lives, I shared some good news about my business. Recently, we’d been selected to design the mail center for a new hospital.
One of my friends, a nurse, asked, “Hospitals have mail centers?” Of course, how else do you think they handle all of the incoming and outgoing mail? I’m sure that they have a mail center at your hospital.
Her response – “I don’t know. When I started, we toured the morgue, but not the mail center.”
After I stopped laughing, I explained the different services the mail center at a hospital performs. Sorting and prepping inbound mail for delivery to the floors. Processing patient bills and other outgoing correspondence. Imaging documents for the hospital’s records department. My friend agreed all of this work had to get done, but she never thought of the hospital having a “mail center”.
Her attitude isn’t unique – and not just among people who work in hospitals. When we visit companies, many of the employees don’t realize that there’s a mail center for their organization. Even when their department receives or sends large volumes of mail. The mail arrives and the mail goes out. No one gives a second thought on how it happens.
Often the mail center is so physically removed from the rest of the company, that no one ever has a reason to go near the shop. In many cases, the operation is located in the basement, next to the loading dock or in a separate building (at one hospital we worked with, the mail center was next to the morgue). Out of sight, out of mind.
The mail center manager needs to accept some of the responsibility for this mindset. While we may not be able to change the physical location of the operation, we can work on changing the attitude of the people around us. We can promote the department through an internal customer communication plan. Using email, the company’s intranet and newsletters, we can inform them about the services we provide for the company.
We can make sure that the department’s space is kept tidy and neat. Even though large quantities of paper, packages and mail pass through the shop, the area can be organized. While employees are required to perform physical labor, they should be dressed neatly and professionally. Equipment, counters and shelving must be kept clean when not in use.
The department should offer regularly scheduled tours promoting its capabilities. Managers can volunteer to brief all new company employees during orientation. In addition to explaining how to use inbound and outbound addressing, the briefing could end with a tour of the mail center. Separate tours could be held for new officers or executives.
We live in a digital age, but physical mail is an integral part of any company’s communication plan. Make sure your fellow employees – your internal customers – understand how you contribute to the company’s success. And make sure they know where the mail center is located.