Mail may be described as any written communication which passes through the messenger, courier or post office. There is need of continuous contacts with the customers, suppliers, branches, departments, banks, financial institutions, government agencies, non-government organizations, and the like. The type of communication is varied on the basis of counterpart of communication. Therefore, every business office receives and sends out a large volume of correspondence on every day.
Mail may be described as the written communication that passes through the messenger service or the post office. Every business house maintains continuous contact with its customers, branches and departments, and government’s agencies.
Business mail is of three distinct types:
- Incoming or inward mail.
- Outgoing or outward mail.
- Inter-department mail.
These three types of mail may be in the form letters, documents, packets, parcels, telegrams, orders, remittances etc.
Handling of Mail Service
The existing relationship of business offices with outsiders is strengthened through efficient operation or handling of mail service. Thus handling of mail is an important supplement to other office operations, viz., making original records, typing and duplicating etc. The mailing service should be planned and organized properly to ensure prompt and correct handling of mail.
Benefits of Mail Service
In the modern globalized business world, mail service is an integral part of office work. Hence, adequate facilities should be provided for efficient and successful performance of mail service. An efficient mailing service offers the following benefits.
- It ensures continuous contacts with outsiders.
- A good impression is created in the minds of outsiders and thereby improves the goodwill of the business.
- The interdepartmental co-operation is also improved with the help of efficient mail service.
- It helps the business office in the creation of correspondence and record keeping of all the departments.
- It helps to reduce the cost of the mailing service.
The new employee of the business office gets training very easily and makes them familiar with the organizational setup, work routine, authority and responsibility, organization structure and the like of the firm.
Components of Mail Service
The mailing service should be planned and organized properly in order to ensure prompt and efficient handling of mailing service. The following elements are included in the efficient mailing service
- Adequate facilities are provided for the mail service.
- Creation and organization of mailing department correctly.
- Arrangements made with post office.
- Establishing inward and outward mail procedure.
- Mechanization of mail service.
- Supervision of mail service.
Arrangement with the post office
Small business often prefers to have their inward mail dropped into their letter boxes special arrangements by big business houses are.
Postboxes are available on rent at certain major post offices. Any individual or firm may rent such a box from a post office, from which he or his messenger may collect his letters or parcels. Every post box is allocated a number, and any postal article bearing that number is placed into that post box.
Advantages of Postboxes
Postboxes offer the following advantages:
- Regular and early delivery of correspondence
- Correspondence may write only the post box number instead of detailed address of the addressee
- The renter or his messenger may clear the post box as and when he desires to do so.
Under this arrangement, a bag and a lock and a duplicate key are supplied by the renter to the post office. All postal articles addressed to his firm are placed by the postal authorities in that bag, which is delivered to the renter.
Advantages of Post bags
This system offers the following advantages:
- It provides a safeguard against tampering with the letters between the post office and the firm’s office.
- This arrangement is particular suitable in mail order business, when a large volume of inward mail is received.
- The renter may use such bags to dispatch unregistered outward mail to the post office.
Incoming Mail Handling Procedure
Receiving the Mail
Generally, mails are received once or twice a day as delivered by the postman, when the volume of correspondence is large, a post box or post bag is hired in the post office, and an office peon is sent to collect the mail from the post office. Sometimes letters are received through the messengers of the offices. In the emerging scenario private courier services rendering very speed post service to the office.
Sorting the Mail
After the mail has been received in the mailing department, it should be sorted out before it is opened. It is easier to sort out sealed envelopes than different sized pieces of paper. Private letters of the employees may be sorted out at first than comparing to the business letters.
Business Letters should be sorted out into three groups:
- Registered and unregistered letters or mail;
- Sealed and unsealed envelopes; and
- Confidential and urgent letters, private or personal, secret, and other official letters.
Sorting of letters means a grouping of letters on definite order. Sorted mail makes the delivery of letters convenient and quick.
Opening the Mail
Letters may be opened by hand or by letter opening machines. A paper-knife is mostly used in offices to split open envelopes etc. If the number of letters is very large, a letter opening machine may be used with an advantage. In small organisations, letters are opened by the officer or head clerk.
The following guidelines may be followed for opening the mail:
- The sorting and Opening of the mail should start atleast half an hour to one hour before the opening time of the office.
- The office manager should see to it that the work in the office start immediately after the opening of the mail, otherwise the time and money spent on an early opening of the mail would be wasted.
- The staff is incharge for opening the mail should be fully conversant with the method of sorting and opening the mail. If possible, a mailing manual should be used in this regard. d. After an envelope has been opened, it is necessary to remove the content from it. Empty envelopes should be fastened by a pin or clip or stapler.
Scrutiny of Contents
After the removal of the contents, it must be scrutinised to find out for whom and for which department, they are meant for the sorting of letters has been done on a departmental basis at this stage. Before sending the mail to the concerned departments, the enclosures to the letters should be checked, compared and verified with the covering letter to find out whether they are in order or not.
Occasionally, the enclosures may be a cheque, bank drafts, postal order or a valuable document. If any discrepancy or omission is found while scrutinising then the matter should be immediately brought to the notice of the mailroom supervisor. Letters in which certain previous references are given may be sent to the filing department from where the letters and the relevant files may be sent to the concerned department.
Stamping the Mail
After proper scrutiny is done, the date stamping of letter must be done. Sometimes the date and time of receipt would be stamped on the letter.
For stamping of letters, a stamp is prepared which contains the serial number, the date of receipt and time of receipt if necessary. A references stamp is attached if the letters relate to a number of departments. A design of a special design stamp is given below.
Recording the Mail
After the stamping work, letters received are recorded in an inward mail register or letters received the book. Before the recording of letters in the register, the contents are scrutinized properly so as to ensure the department to which it belongs.
The inward mail register contains
- Serial number
- Date of receipt
- Senders name and address
- Nature of contents
- Subject of the letter in brief
- Remarks and initials of the officer with date.
Distributing the Mail
This is the last step in the inward mailing routine. In this stage, letters are handed over to the concerned departments. The letters are distributed through messengers or sometimes with the help of mechanical devices like conveyor-belt or pneumatic tubes.
Follow up Action
Follow up action is very important because it is concerned with keeping track of mail. This stage makes an enquiry whether the letter is replied or not.