on Jul 2nd, 2012 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 11 comments
 
Could post offices be redesigned to improve their appearance and ease of use, perhaps modeled after the pleasant, comfortable designs of other retail outlets? The business world has seen a recent explosion of interest in design. Apple is a great example of a company that has reached an astounding market capitalization based largely on its focus and skill in design, both of its products and retail spaces. Starbucks has successfully positioned its retail locations as a “third place”— neither home nor work — where customers can savor a cup of coffee and enjoy a comfortable atmosphere for work or leisure. Retail bank lobbies use smart, neat designs that facilitate efficient customer transactions. Post offices, for the most part, do not seem to inspire the same feelings. Although some retail outlets are more attractive and functional, many post offices are nondescript and lack visible customer tools, such as a list of services and prices. Their absence can cause unnecessary delays and frustration. Post Office counters sometimes appear cluttered and disorganized, and generally unappealing. Post offices in classical older buildings are an exception, and they often serve as an attractive part of a town’s landscape. However, the interior design doesn’t always match the elegant external architecture. As Apple and Starbucks have demonstrated, design is not merely an aesthetic issue; it has consequences for the financial performance of a consumer-facing business. Should the U.S. Postal Service redesign post offices as part of its retail optimization plan and make them more appealing and user-friendly? Could such design improvements yield appreciable commercial or financial benefits? Or would design improvements be too cost prohibitive in the Postal Service’s current financial condition? Tell us — and show us — what you think. If you love the design of a particular Post Office, let us know where it is and post a picture if you can.

Comments

I have been involved with the USPS since the early 1960's as my father was working with the HQ group and having done IT contract work with the USPS for several years, I have always been impressed with the capacity and capabilities within the USPS.

Your issues are strictly with the heavy hand of the Labor Unions and the Federal Government and until both get off your back and out of our pockets, unfortunately, I don't really see any salvation for the Postal Service.

My read is the relationship the unions have created with the organization has turned the USPS management into babysitters and this has created a very unhappy workplace. Workers do not appear to enjoy their work and this shows itself at the local post offices.

The Congress has to decide if the USPS is a federal agency or a private corporation and stop sitting on the fence with the status of the organization. If you are a private corporation then you need to resume the revenue generating programs like CA and ebill pay so you can resume healthy operations. If congress decides they are unable to remove their grip from your corporate throat, then make the USPS a full federal agency and stop setting you up for failure...

The difference, I believe, between the USPS and organizations like Apple is the USPS customer base is uninformed and lazy. I spent several years as a volunteer with Veteran Support Groups and in that capacity I routinely shipped 700-800 lbs of books through the USPS. I spent a lot of time waiting in line at the post office waiting for people to pack and label boxes at the counter. They would get to the counter with literally handfuls of stuff to ship and the counter agent would find them a box, wait for them to put their items in the box, use the USPS supplied tape to tape the box and then write out a label. Many times they would have to call someone via their cell phone to find an address. There is not enough Post Office redesign to compensate for customer ignorance. Apple etc. do not have to deal with these issues and unfortunately, the USPS is taking heat for client stupidity.

I blame the grievance process for much of the sluggish rate of customer service staff. Although you can opt out of the APWU it cannot save you from their bargaining processes. My husband works fast and efficiently even though those around him are sluggish. There are many a times he has gone to work with an ache or pain or even had a little ache or pain caused to him on the job.
I am so glad that he now works in Safety Operations within the USPS. TOO many postal workers want to blame perfectly functioning equipment on an accident or injury they recieved.
I'm sure we've all heard of the phenoenon where therre have been times that an employee was injured on the job and put on light duty. Her light duty was sitting in an office for 8 hrs a day doing nothing. This is due to the bargaining units.

I got off topic, sorry. This is the first time I've written on this blog. YES I believe the offices should be redesigned. Anything 50 years or older can be brought up to date , more interactive sevices between customer and employee. Scales could be accessed by customer but still at the same counter as the employee. The package would be auto weighed and label comes out automatically. This is a job any customer could do. Perhaps if it would show you the different prices for the overnight, express, ground, etc., it would cut down on all that back and forth with the empolyee.
At least two different lines, one for purchassing perhaps? One for Mailing? Haven't thought that far. Just wanted to throw out a couple of ideas. One more very important aspect the postoffice needs is if there will be fewer offices, there must be large enough parking lot or ample space in the office's area.
Leave the older postoffices alone. Especially the multi story ones. They are beautiful. They can (and do) serve as headquarters for Postal Police, and other units.

Where have you been? The USPS does have Self serve options already in their lobby, the problem is that people do not know how to use it. What about putting the injured employee out there to show the public how to use these options. I did this as a casual employee during the Christmas rush. It is also not the unions fault that injured employees are or have been sitting in rooms doing nothing. This is the fault of mis-management who don't know how to use the employee resources they have and who want to play mind games with injured employees.

As for updating the lobby..where have you been..50 years? The lobbies are updated very frequently already. They should not waste more money in remodeling but I do agree that pricing information and customer options should be clearly displayed.

Also as for unhappy workers...there used to be plenty of job satisfaction until management turned to the "iron fist." It is all threats and harassment to get the worker to go beyond their physical and mental capacity. Injuries will continue to rise as management increases worker stress on body and mind. Letter carriers are not even supplied the basic supplies they need such as pens and rubber bands. In summary, POOR management skills. Keep your employees happy and you will get the greatest cooperation and productivity.

it really wouldnt matter to me if the usps closes its doors on some of our local sub stations.Past 26yrs ive been doing business with them,3 local stations take a 1.5 hr lunch break! 12-1:30 5 days a week. dont know how many times i had to wait 90 min for them to open back up again and sometimes ive waited 2hrs for them to open. In this day and age,when you go to work, you should be working! i dont blame anyone who pulled out of the parking lot heading to fed ex to send there items.who would want to wait 90min?. like i said,it doesnt matter, just take the steps like other big business that folded up and just file for a tax payer bailout and everyone is happy again

Nothing will help until the USPS employees stop losing/stealing/deliver to wrong addresses/appreciate their jobs & start treating customers with respect. Columbia Illinois main office is the worse, yet they keep getting awards. USPS sends people around to check if each office asks if there is anything hazardous, liquid etc. in the package they are shipping. I guarantee that eack clerk is taught this spiel as they all say it to each customer. It is just a shame that that is all most of these clerks learn. I have had over 8 packages shipped to me never show up. Just this year I have had 3 packages disappear. The worse thing is that USPS shows the packages as delivered making the insurance void. I tried sending pictures & descriptions of lost items where I was told to inquire. Within a week, I received all my information back in a Priority envelope with no message. The postal employees are mostly obnoxious with the good ones either getting different jobs or taking early retirement.

I couldn't agree more. USPS keeps trying to solve the wrong problems. Spending millions to redesign the post offices is like putting very expensive lipstick on a pig. While people may be frustrated with the wait times, their confidence is lost because after waiting all that time to ship a package, it arrives late or not at all and the USPS has no idea where it is or what happened. To make it worse, when you try to deal with customer service you discover they don't care. People don't put their money in a bank because the lobby looks great. They put their money in a bank they can trust to not misplace it. USPS should take a lesson and focus on the core business of receiving, shipping, and delivering packages better than anyone else.

I,am not sure if this can be done, but it should be done in order to make the post office everything it could and can be.I think it,s time the post office charged a monthly flat rate to each home owner the same way one pays for water service, cable tv, cell phones.Everyone gets mail in one or another ,charge a monthly rate to all, lets just say $3.00 a month as a service charge right from the post office.
Think of the amount this could add to and all in order to help the post office ,also help update all post offices bring in new people to fully staff every office. everyone in the U.S. pays for all types of services why not postal? It,s time ,it,s pass due , it,s American
It,s needed ,it,s time the push for what needs to happen gets push!

I recently visited England and dropped in to see the Oxford (city) Post Office. The sign at the entrance was both friendly and informative, listing all of the services that were offered in clear categories. The organization of materials in the Post Office was easy to understand and immaculate. It looked as if all mailing supplies and forms were in stock. There were 5 or 6 machines, and most people there were queuing for them, as opposed to waiting in a separate line for one of the several clerks on duty. The use of space was excellent, and this was all in a well-maintained, historic building. I will try to post a photo or two.
I am interested in other examples of how Post Offices are designed in other countries...

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