Thursday, Apr 25, 2019

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Adam Bower and Brennan Jordan take a look at the new mail system and how it has improved the mail experience of OHIO students.

Adam Bower and Brennen Jordan take a look at the new mail system and how it has improved the mail experience of OHIO students.

Photographer: Alaina Bartel

Brennen Jordan scans a package to be picked up by a student.

Brennen Jordan scans a package to be picked up by a student.

Photographer: Alaina Bartel

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OHIO students continuing to benefit from new campus mail system

Ohio University students received more than 170,000 packages on the Athens campus last academic year. No matter the package — a trinket from a grandparent’s vacation or a $2,000 laptop — all are treated equal by Ohio University Mail Services.

Most people don’t think much about what happens to their mail behind the scenes — but Adam Bower, manager of OHIO Mail Services, and Assistant Mail Manager Brennen Jordan, do.

And, they are continually trying to make mail services more efficient for students, even after a complete mail system overhaul last academic year. Previously, the United States Postal Service, as well as other providers such as UPS and FedEx, had been delivering to 28 residence hall locations on the Athens Campus.

For the past year, all mail and packages being delivered to students living in the residence halls have been delivered to one of the following green-based mail centers: East Green Mail Center, West Green Mail Center or South Green Mail Center.

“In my opinion, it really enhanced the overall value that it added to the students because it provided enhanced mail services that currently did not exist under our previous model,” said Jneanne Hacker, director for business operations and conference services.

Some of those enhanced mail services include technology. When a package arrives at the mail center, the package is logged, and an email is sent to the student’s OHIO email account. Students also receive a text message notifying them that a package is ready for pick up.

“I’m very pleased with it,” Bower said. “Brennan has worked very hard, and the student team has been excellent in the change that we made, and they’ve adapted really well to it. Being able to communicate with the students through text message has been, I think, a real win.”

The new mail system and technology has proved to be very efficient for both students and staff. Bower said it takes students, on average, about 22 hours between student’s receiving their text or email notification to picking up their package. In the past, it took them from two to three days.

“We haven’t been returning as many packages, so that tells me, even though we don’t have the data, that more students are coming to get their stuff,” Jordan explained.

In years past, students were given a window of three weeks to claim their package. After three weeks, if it wasn’t claimed, it would get returned. That window has been shortened to two weeks with the implementation of the new system; however, even though it’s a shorter window, fewer packages are being returned, according to Bower.

Additionally, wait times for students picking up their mail has dramatically decreased.

“We observed wait times this year compared to last year and the longest time — we just picked a student, 15 or so students back halfway in the line — and the longest wait time was eight minutes, which is a lot better than last year and the year before, that was upwards of 20 minutes,” Jordan said.

Although this new system has been successful, it’s a constant improvement struggle for the mail services team. Every change is analyzed and upgraded.

In the future, Bower said their team might consider installing smart mailboxes for students. Instead of having them visit a mail center to pick it up, Bower explained that Mail Services could explore placing mailboxes in lobbies or an accessible public space so a student could securely pick up their mail at any time of the day — even if that happens to be 3 a.m.

Bower noted that, if such mailboxes were to become a reality, students would most likely receive two sets of pins to confirm their identify, and the box containing their package would pop open. Students would not share a mailbox; when students retrieve their packages, other students’ packages would take their place.

In addition to thousands of packages, students also receive thousands of letters, too. This is the second academic year for the folder system, where each student has a folder in which their letters are placed. Bower said they are considering dynamic shared folders that would not only save money on folder costs, but save space, as well.

“Each and every year, we certainly look at how we can provide the best level of support to our students,” Hacker said.