It’s something just about every person, every business and every organization has in common. We’ve all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another.
The United States Postal Service is no exception.
To reduce expenses amid a decline in letter-mail volume, the USPS has new policies that, according to various media reports, mean mail is often taking longer to arrive. That can have a ripple effect on bank customers as payments are in transit.
What does this mean for Regions customers and associates?
First, if you’re a Regions customer, understand that our teams are working to reduce or minimize impacts. Here’s how.
Brian Dailey, who manages Lockbox and reconcilement services for Regions Bank, said a delay in mail delivery has the potential to impact Regions’ ability to process payments for customers in a timely manner.
So the bank is adjusting work schedules to adapt.
“In Lockbox, we collect and process what we call ‘consumer-to-business’ payments, such as when you pay your water bill, credit card bill or mortgage,” he explained. “We also process ‘business-to-business’ payments, such as when a car manufacturer pays for tires for its vehicles.”
By and large, these payments move through the U.S. postal system.
“If we experience a slowdown in mail delivery,” Dailey added, “it is inevitable that those payments – loans, credit cards, safe box, etc. – will be somewhat delayed.”
As far as the impact to Regions associates, Dailey said he and his counterparts in Regions’ Mail Services team are working on staffing solutions. For instance, the Lockbox team will eliminate its Sunday work schedule so it can, in turn, shift to work more hours on Monday and Tuesday.
“In addition to prohibiting postal workers from working overtime, it is our understanding that the U.S. Postal Service will also be cutting shifts, including those that have historically existed on Sundays,” Dailey said. “At Regions, we would normally have a shift of associates working on Sundays as well – working to process and sort the 50 or so trays of mail that come in on Sundays. That volume won’t go away; it will just shift to arriving on Mondays.”
He expects a roughly 50% increase in volume to what his team usually sees on Mondays.
“So, the work will still require the same number of associates to process our trays – we’ll just need to adjust work schedules to accommodate the U.S. Postal Service’s changes in process,” Dailey said.
Bottom line: Plan ahead.
With an expected mail delivery of 4 a.m. on Mondays, Regions Lockbox customers with early deadlines may see a reduction in Monday deposit volumes as bank personnel process the increased volume – and, in turn, an increase in Tuesday deposits. Regions associates are encouraged to connect with those customers and advise them to move their deadlines to later in the day. This will allow for more processing time and increased same-day deposits.
We’re working every angle within our control to lessen the potential impact.
Franklin Danley, head of Payment Operations at Regions
“At Regions, we’re working diligently to reduce customer impacts,” said Franklin Danley, head of Payment Operations. “While we anticipate some customers may be affected, through our changes in shift scheduling, we’re working every angle within our control to lessen the potential impact. I am proud of our Lockbox team for their continued flexibility and focus on providing our customers with a positive banking experience.”
Throughout the pandemic, Regions’ Lockbox teams have continued to work on-site while socially distancing in Birmingham, Nashville, Orlando and St. Louis to process incoming mail deposits – averaging 1.6 million checks per month – while maintaining customer accuracy rates above 99.98%. While this has been a challenging year, and there may be needs to adapt even further in the months to come, the Lockbox team will continue to focus on customers and provide best-in-class service.