• on Jun 28th, 2010 in Products & Services | 50 comments
    For decades, the Postal Service offered vending machine service to supplement its retail operations. Vending machines meet the needs of customers who want to purchase stamps without waiting in line. While the lack of stamp vending machines has resulted in customer frustration and a surprising number of newspaper articles, the problems are particularly acute in economically depressed and more urban areas. Although Automated Postal Centers (APCs) provide many services including the sale of stamps and directly applied postage for First-Class letters, APCs require credit cards, which people in economically depressed areas often do not have. In addition, some customers find APCs to be intimidating to use. Finally, APCs sell only booklets of stamps or individual stamps in denominations of $1 or more, yet many disadvantaged customers may want to buy just one First-Class Mail stamp.

    So with an apparent need for simple vending machines, what should the Postal Service do? In the past, the Postal Service had problems with the legacy machines it owned. They were costly and difficult to maintain and operate. The answer may be to contract this activity out. Commercial vending machines, like those selling soda and chips, are generally not owned and operated by the organizations on whose property they are located. While Postal Service unions and management associations may have concerns, private operators might be very interested in acquiring stamp vending machine contracts for a percentage of gross sales (or similar) while taking sole responsibility for vending machine maintenance and support. In addition to the convenience vending machines would offer, they might also help window clerks operate more efficiently. Diverting low-value stamp sales from windows would increase revenue per labor hour and allow the Postal Service window clerks to focus on more important functions. With shorter lines and happier customers, the work environment of a window clerk would likely improve. This idea could be a win-win for all concerned. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on Jun 21st, 2010 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 15 comments
    The economy has changed dramatically over the last 12 months. The Postal Service’s financial situation has changed, as well as its target markets and the fortunes and requirements of its customers. If the Postal Service gathers appropriate data to fully understand customers’ needs and desires, and offers relevant solutions, customers are more likely to choose the Postal Service as their primary supplier of mail products and services. The customer experience includes attributes such as access, convenience, products, services, price and relationship with the Postal Service. Unpleasant experiences can reduce brand loyalty. Understanding and addressing these customer “pain points” is critical to helping to increase customer retention and revenue streams. The challenges are to ensure that every potential and existing customer with a need for postal products and services is aware of the Postal Service’s ability to deliver value, and that the Postal Service captures sufficient information to respond to their needs. Whenever and wherever possible, the Postal Service must understand what customers want and need, and they must meet customers’ expectations. If the Postal Service is to move toward a “best in class” sales organization, it needs to focus on excellence of execution and delivering value to customers.

    What can the Postal Service do differently to better understand customer needs in various markets? What can the Postal Service do to enhance the positive customer experiences and reduce the negative experiences? We’re excited to begin the conversation and hope you’ll chime in with thoughts and comments along the way. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Office of Audit’s Sales & Service team.

  • on Jun 18th, 2010 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 41 comments
    The U.S. Postal Service’s current fleet of more than 219,000 vehicles includes approximately 146,000 delivery vehicles, most of which are long-life vehicles (LLVs). The first LLVs were produced in 1987, and they average about 10 miles per gallon. The vehicles are right-hand drive to accommodate drivers delivering numerous mailpieces to curbside mailboxes. These iconic right-hand drive delivery trucks are nearing the end of a 24-year life cycle and are costly to maintain. In a recent audit, we noted that it cost the Postal Service about $524 million to fix the LLVs in fiscal year 2009. More than 40,000 trucks required more than $3,500 each in maintenance and another 19,000 of these required an average of $5,600 in repairs consecutively in 2008 and 2009. At this rate, for the high maintenance segment of the fleet, repairs in the next eight years will cost $342 million more than it would to buy new trucks. Considering the growing costs of maintaining this unique but aging fleet, what are your thoughts on a cost-effective, but practical replacement delivery vehicle fleet? To read the full report go to http://www.uspsoig.gov/foia_files/DA-AR-10-005.pdf.
     
    The Office of Audit Engineering & Facilities team is hosting this topic.

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