Picture a high rise building with hundreds of residents. They get their mail the same way they have for years. First, they walk down to the concierge desk and present their credentials (or not, depending on how familiar they are with the attendant sitting there). Then, the attendant rummages through the packages that have been delivered to the lobby throughout the day and finds the right one. Finally, they pick up the pen and confirm receipt by adding their signature to a paper log.
This process, though once acceptable, was passing its expiration date even before the pandemic hit. With e-commerce taking hold, the daily barrage of packages was becoming far more than the simple concierge desk was equipped to handle.
Now heap the COVID-19 pandemic on top of an already stretched and outmoded system. How many people are touching the packages? What about the concierge who has to have face-to-face encounters with people all day? Not to mention that germ-ridden, community pen.
If you’re thinking that there has to be a better way, you’re right. Read on to learn about seven tips to help you manage package delivery more safely and efficiently at multi-tenant properties, be they apartments, university dorms, commercial buildings, or retail spaces.
- Decrease touch with more automatic operators on all doors. This helps ensure that as few people as possible are touching door handles and potentially spreading germs.
- Control access to the mail pickup room. There’s the archaic way of limiting entry like the (mostly ignored) sign outside of my favorite donut shop capping occupancy at 10. One look in the window during the breakfast “rush hour” tells you that it’s not working. Fortunately, you have more options on your property, such as automated solutions that require a key scan (or some other digital credential) to enter and automatically cap occupancy. Too full? No entry. No argument.
- Package lockers. These can cut down on the need for attendants, keep packages safe and secure, and increase access because people can get into them at any time. Just make sure that you have protocols in place to keep them clean, and if you can upgrade to lockers that open with digital scans, this is far more sanitary than the antiquated key.
- Discover OCR. Bar code scanners are finicky and error-prone. If you’ve been relying on one, you’ll be surprised at how much smoother your mailroom can run with optical character recognition software. No hardware is required. A simple app on your phone or computer can read labels (including handwritten ones), decipher partially obscured labels, and make smart suggestions when information is missing.
- Implement contactless delivery. The aforementioned signature for proof of pickup is non-hygienic, clumsy, and leaves room for verification issues. Opt for complete package receiving software that allows you to confirm receipt with a digital signature or a photo of the package being received.
- Communicate. What you lose without that face-to-face exchange in the mailroom does not have to fall by the wayside. Send emails or texts to let people know when their package has arrived (with an accompanying picture of the package if desired) and give them a nudge if they forget to pick it up. Your clients will still hear from you in all the ways that matter.
- Think data. Make sure that your software includes inbound parcel tracking. When you can track when a package was received, how long it was stored, and when it was picked up, you can stay on top of the lifecycle of the package and eliminate frustrating miscommunications. You can also monitor trends and see where you might need to change your policies or processes to increase efficiency and keep customers happy.
Whether your mail load is small or large, there are solutions that can keep your staff and your clients safer while streamlining your processes. The solutions you choose will depend on the physical layout of your facility, your budget, and the habits of your tenants, but we’ve never yet met an inbound mail system that couldn’t be improved in some way.
And as people start to return to work after the COVID-19 outbreak—or if they are going to be telecommuting—our PackageX Digital Mailroom is more important than ever. Imagine being able to manage your mail as you do your email.
Mailroom employees can activate our four new buttons in notification emails, allowing recipients to forward, discard, hold, or snap and email their documents and packages. This allows recipients to work productively from anywhere. At the same time, your mailroom staff can clear the COVID-19 clutter and efficiently work through any existing backlog.