SYSTEMS 1. Handling the mail.—Methods of handling in coming mail vary according to the size of the busi ness. In general, the aim is to develop a system which will promote dispatch and thoroness. Many large concerns have the date and hour of arrival stamped on each incoming letter, and require that all letters be handled within a definite number of hours after arrival. Small concerns also find this to be a good system. Letters that are hard to handle very often represent cases that ought to be managed with dispatch; but there is constant temptation to hold over hard letters until other and easier matters have been attended to. Each case should be handled in the order in which it comes up; in this way correspondents attend to the difficult cases as they arise.
A great deal of business is lost each year thru the failure to handle difficult cases promptly. For ex ample, a customer who lived out of town returned to the adjustment department of a certain department store a suit of clothes he had purchased, and claimed a refund. His reason for wanting the refund was not that he thought the department store could not sat isfy him with some other suit, but that he could not get to the city again for several months and could not wait that long to get another suit. In his letter he explained what was wrong with the clothes and stated that he was buying another suit in his home town. It happened that alterations had been made on this suit at the time it was purchased; these, the addressee said, he was willing to pay for.
He received a polite postal card by return mail telling him that the adjustment he asked for would be made as soon as possible. But it was not until a month later that the refund was sent—and before that time the customer had sent two more letters ask ing for it. He did not get a reply to either of his letters. When the refund was finally sent to him a letter of apology accompanied it. But the apology was too late. The customer had resolved never again to buy from that department store, and his purchases had averaged $150 a year for several years.
A system which insures promptness in the handling of all mail is most highly desirable. When it is necessary for the correspondent to get information and advice from others in the organization, the mes senger boy service is often found satisfactory. It often pays to have the messenger wait for the re quired 0. K. or information. The mail-carrier sys tem within the office or house, regulated by hourly or half-hourly collections and deliveries, helps greatly in solving the problem of quick interdepartmental communication when the telephone cannot be used.
2. Assorting the mail.—Many large business houses are finding that it pays well to have as as sorters of mail those men who are able to determine not only where each letter ought to go, but also how the case should be handled. These assorters them selves handle from ten to twenty per cent of the cor respondence. That is, they indicate by notations at tached to the letter what disposition is to be made of the case, so that a well trained typist-correspond ent can make the reply. In many instances, these ex pert assorters also know when a letter must go to more than one member of the organization before it can be answered, and they route letters accordingly. The result is that as soon as the man who is to write the answer gets the letter and reads it he has all the information necessary for immediate dictation. In other cases, when long letters come in for officials whose time is worth a great deal, these assorters sum marize the letters as they read, or hand them to a professional precis writer. Often it is necessary for the high-salaried official merely to read this summary in order to handle the case.
The kind of assorting described in the preceding paragraph is very similar in principle to that done by the executive who, as he goes thru his pile of corre spondence, picks out easy letters here and there, jots down at the bottom of each the disposition that is to be made of it, and lets a subordinate write the an swer.