• on Dec 26th, 2011 in Delivery & Collection | 46 comments
    Pushing the Envelope wants to ask you for your thoughts on how the U.S. Postal Service, as it faces its financial crisis, might improve operations and reduce costs while continuing to deliver mail. Carriers are sometimes required to complete tasks and processes that leave them scratching their heads and asking, “why are we doing this?” Examples previously cited by some carriers include waiting in line for accountable items (mail that requires a signature) and having their productivity “rewarded” with more work. Another significant issue of concern to carriers is having single pieces of First Class Mail® driven out to them while on their route. There are some that believe this happens to influence First Class performance delivery scores. This action will often require a carrier to change or retrace their line of travel. What are some of the operations, tasks, and processes that do not make sense in delivery operations and that you believe management can eliminate? And why don’t they make sense? What ideas do you have to improve these operations, tasks, and processes and reduce cost? Improve service? We invite you to share your answers in the comment section below. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Delivery Directorate.
  • on Dec 19th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments
    With mail volume decreasing, the U.S. Postal Service is coming up with new ways to reach out to potential customers. As one of the latest and most effective trends in customer outreach, more and more businesses are embracing social media outlets to engage the public. Presently, the Postal Service has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but is the agency using them effectively? According to the Postal Technology International, September 2011 issue, effective use of social media is at the heart of many successful businesses. With so many potential customers spending time on social media websites they have become an increasingly important means of reaching people. Consumers use social media sites to seek advice from their online peers and communities about what products and services are best. Companies have the opportunity to find out what consumers are saying about them, so they can gain insight into what people want in a product or service. It is widely accepted that social media is most effective when used as a two-way communications platform, for example, when the company not only issues its messaging and listens for remarks from customers, but when the company uses the platform to respond to customers directly, engaging with them on specific issues. Also, many companies are now advertising their products and services on social media sites to tap into a group of consumers who spend a significant amount of time on the Internet. How can the Postal Service use social media to increase its customer base and revenue? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Network Processing team.
  • on Dec 12th, 2011 in Products & Services | 6 comments
    Every year, millions of Americans send holiday greeting cards through the mail to friends and family around the country. Usually this means a trip to the store to pick out cards, the Post Office to get stamps, sometimes even a photographer to capture that perfect holiday photo, and another trip to the Post Office to mail the cards. But now there are many options for creating a holiday greeting card that save both time and money. Not only are these options a potential boon to consumers, they are an opportunity for the Postal Service. Several years ago, Hallmark® introduced a hybrid greeting card that customers can order online. For one price, customers create a card by choosing a design and uploading their own photos and even choosing the day the Postal Service delivers the card. This year, Apple® introduced Cards, a smartphone application that allows customers to create and mail hybrid greeting cards directly from their iPhones. Still, for those who love the experience of shopping for cards, a number of Postal Service retail locations offer a selection of greeting cards allowing customers to buy, stamp, and send them from the same location. Offering holiday cards through multiple platforms has a number of benefits for the Postal Service and its customers. This type of multi-channel strategy provides customers with convenience and multiple options for using physical mail. If expanded to other postal products, such as Priority Mail or Standard Mail, this strategy could provide the Postal Service with an opportunity to grow mail volume for other mail classes and improve customer satisfaction by making other products and services easier and more convenient to use. Additionally, hybrid holiday cards, whether created from online or mobile platforms, represent a path forward for the Postal Service in the digital world. It shows that digital technology can compliment and not be the enemy of physical mail. So, should the Postal Service make efforts to apply this multi-channel, hybrid mail model to other postal products, and if so which ones? Do you plan to send your holiday cards this year using an online or mobile card builder or are you sending them the old fashioned way? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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