This is the first post in a series that we’ll be updating once a month over the next few months. We’ve briefly discussed some aspects of our mailing capabilities in a previous blog, but this series will focus on individual steps and answer some of our clients’ frequently asked questions. To start the series, this post is about the data clean up services offered by CEC.
Basic Data Verification and Clean Up
Nearly all mailing projects processed at CEC will begin with the file (comma-delimited .CSV or tab-delimited .TXT preferred) being imported into our CASS and PAVE certified mail processing software (with small, first-class mailings being the exception). Once there, we format the fields of your file to coincide with postal requirements (name, address, city, state and zip are the minimum required). Additionally, we add a few fields for presorted mailings to help keep the printed pieces in order.
We do require your data files to be mostly clean and correctly formatted to start with. For instance, if the list you provide has names in the address column or cities in the zip code column, there will be errors when processing the file. It is not standard procedure for CEC to fix these types of errors. To avoid potential problems and stay on schedule, please make sure your list is as clean as possible before submitting it to us for processing.
Once the fields are formatted we can run a Duplicate Check procedure. Here, we can see if a last name, address, or combination of name and address show up more than once in the file. If duplicates are found there is an option to remove them from the list or leave the list unchanged. Typically we leave the list unchanged unless the client specifically requests duplicates be removed. In cases where there are an unusually high number of duplicates, we will contact the client and let them decide if we should remove duplicates or ignore them. We do have the option to export the duplicate entries to a separate file when removing them which allows clients to see which entries were duplicated so they can update their list for future mailings.
The last step we will cover in this post is the Address Check. This process verifies the addresses in your list against the information in the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) national database. This is where incorrect or incomplete addresses can be found and in some cases corrected. On smaller, simpler projects that will not be verified using the National Change of Address (NCOA) database (which will be covered in part 2 of this series), Address Check is also where we generate CASS Certification paperwork (form 3553), which is required for all presorted and bulk mailings that go through the USPS.
That concludes part 1 of our “Mailing with CEC” series. Stay tuned for the continuation of this series as well as other blogs over the coming weeks. As always, if you have specific questions about upcoming projects, please contact a client service representative for immediate assistance.