• on Dec 27th, 2010 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 7 comments
    It’s a couple days after Christmas and all through the house, still no creatures are stirring. Well, some of us are. After all, it’s back to work for most of us. Postal employees were especially busy this time of year. In the holiday season, the Postal Service delivered nearly 16 billion cards, letters and packages across the country and sent mail around the world. Post Office lobbies were also a busy place, with 97 million customers visiting. But more than 47 million customers skipped the trip to the Post Office this holiday season and took advantage of the Postal Service’s online shipping at www.usps.com. The Postal Service touches everyone regularly, but even more so during the holiday season. We would like to hear about your “Mail Moment” experience with the Postal Service over the past few weeks. What made it memorable? Was it a positive experience? If not, how can the Postal Service improve?
  • 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.

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