For any business, customer service is important. It improves the brand image, keeps customers loyal, and provides insights into the customer experience. In the past, customer service operations for a major corporation would involve thousands of service agents to handle calls — from routine problems to more complex ones. Technology has changed customer service, allowing automated systems to handle routine inquiries 24 hours a day without requiring an agent.

For its 1-800-ASK-USPS customer care line, the Postal Service employs an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to answer calls, automatically handling routine issues such as package tracking, finding post office locations and hours, and submitting hold mail requests. This allows customers to find solutions for certain issues without being put on hold or being referred to agents for complicated problems. In Fiscal Year 2020, the Postal Service’s IVR system handled 90 million calls!

Our latest white paper, 1-800-ASK-USPS: The Postal Service’s Interactive Voice Response System, examines the effectiveness of the Postal Service’s IVR system at handling inquiries. We found that two of the metrics, the containment rate (the percent of calls not transferred to agents) and customer satisfaction, have both increased over the past years. Still, there is room for improvement. A quarter of IVR users who stay on the line at the end of the call to take a survey were very dissatisfied with their IVR experience, which might be worth exploring further.

We also found the Postal Service was counting any call not transferred to an agent as contained. For example, if someone called and hung up in frustration before getting the information they sought, that call would still count as resolved by the IVR system. We recommended the Postal Service track abandoned calls and more accurately track contained calls. This could help them accurately identify customer frustration points with the IVR system.

Have you called 1-800-ASK-USPS recently? What was your experience?

Comments (76)

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  • anon

    UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!! Cannot find a way to report suspected fraud!

    Sep 26, 2022
  • anon

    I called the hotline expecting to speak with a person about my package. I’m set to graduate tomorrow and the mail carrier can’t remember what he did with my tickets. I am so stressed.

    Sep 23, 2022
  • anon

    The automated system does not provide an option to speak with a carrier. There is no option for checking on status of new mailbox key for communal mail box at subdivision.

    Sep 20, 2022
  • anon

    Why can't I contact my local post office? This is absurd. And the automated line is beyond frustrating and stupid

    Sep 20, 2022
  • anon

    I have been trying for over an hour to reach a live person in order to find out which post office location has my package. The online and phone tree service is not working for me because apparently there is an error. I am being put through a constant loop and can not reach a live person to resolve my issue. They claim a delivery attempt was made, but I never received a notice. When I enter my address and info, the system says the address is incorrect. If I can not collect my item, I will be out about $75 and the item will be returned back to France. In this particular case, due to whatever address error is in the system, I am not able to complete handling this online or via the automated phone service. I am also not able to speak to a live person because there is no option for that. I'm not sure what else to do other than start going to each of the nearby post office locations and try to find out which one has my package.

    Sep 07, 2022
  • anon

    I had an inquiry and there was no option relevant to my inquiry so I got stuck in a loop of being asked the same questions over and over again

    Sep 01, 2022
  • anon

    With any luck, USPS will go bankrupt and UPS will take over. Let's see: (1) No one answers the phone at any of my local branches, (2) You can't send a fax to their fax number, (3) the 800 numbers is pathetic and unusable and, or course, local branch clerks are wholly uninterested in providing customer service. The only reason they survive is the USPS monopoly. I say break it up and let it fail.

    Aug 31, 2022
  • anon

    CANNOT SPEAK TO A LIVE AGENT. THIS IS RIDICULOUS !!!!!’

    Aug 30, 2022
  • anon

    JUST NEED A LIVE AGENT !!!!!!!!!!!!! RIDICULOUS !!!

    Sep 14, 2022
  • anon

    Literally must be part of the fifth level of hell...I have been calling for hours, trying every option, to try and get information about a priority express package I mailed on Saturday that was supposed to be delivered on Monday August 22nd, and is still reported as "in transit". I paid the super high fee and had it insured because it contained medical equipment for my mother. It even has a money back guarantee... which all of this is useless because you cant get to an actual human. Absolutely ridiculous. I don't think any human actually works in this dept...

    Aug 26, 2022
  • anon

    I’m handicapped and my mail been delivered at my backdoor. No legs to get too my backdoor,

    Aug 24, 2022
  • anon

    I have been calling the local usps telephone number multiple times to get some information about m-bags. It is waste of time. The usps should abolish automatic response system. Usps should add option to callback to a given number. It is annoying to get this auto response good for nothing.

    Aug 22, 2022
  • anon

    This entire system is designed with one goal in mind; to frustrate the customer to the point of hanging up and hoping whatever they called about is eventually resolved by an organization that couldn't care less about it's customers. It is no wonder people use any other service but the USPS if possible these days. What a complete joke. Why have a customer service department if customers are unable to reach them? Even your online forms don't work. Pathetic.

    Aug 20, 2022
  • anon

    USPS hold my package and claims that I told them to do so when I did not. When I called to speak to an agent I just get an automated voice thing that keeps giving me a runaround and never solving my issues getting a hold of an actual person is pretty much impossible. I have half a mind to seriously stand against USPS

    Aug 11, 2022
  • anon

    Your IVR is incredibly stupid version. I am trying to track a misdelivered package and miskeyed one digit. There does not seem to be any way to get to a human before entering a 20 digit number, hard to do on a touchpad.

    Aug 06, 2022
  • anon

    After support request on the Internet failed four times using Chrome and Edge, I tried phone support. Automated case setup failed to recognize "B" as apartment number because it added the word "apartment" as a prefix and said it did not agree with package address which has "B" as second address line. Callback from agent menu refused to respond to keypress "1", so I could not connect. I still have not been able to report package scanned as delivered but it was not in my locked mailbox and I live alone. IT IS MADDENING! I have spent 45 minutes on this with nothing to show for it. Automation is fine but only if it works. There has to be a failsafe somewhere and NOT just a hangup. I'm a professional programmer and this is piss-poor programming.

    Jul 28, 2022
  • anon

    The IVR is clearly designed to deter customers from reaching a representative by infuriating the customer to the point of abandoning the call. It's interesting that an abandoned call make their metrics look good. This is not a coincidence. It's also an insult, among many, to the tax payer.

    Jul 22, 2022
  • anon

    Somebody told me how to get a live person. But it takes awhile because they get busy... Call the USPS number. When you are given choices, say OTHER. Then say TECHNICAL SUPPORT, Then say TROUBLE SHOOTING, Then say SOMETHING ELSE, Then again say SOMETHING ELSE. You will be connected to someone then, or you will be put on hold for a few minutes, or the system took my number and will theoretically call me in 23 to 32 minutes. I am waiting for a call back now....

    Jul 19, 2022
  • anon

    THANK U SO MUCH FOR THIS!!! Typical government experience. Horrible!

    Aug 26, 2022
  • anon

    I keep trying to call the 1-800-275-8777 number and it always says it cannot be completed as dialed. When I try to call the post office, no one answers. What gives?

    Jul 16, 2022
  • anon

    There is no way to reach a live person. I have a package that I received a notice about through informed delivery for my address, but it was returned to the post office because they claim the address is incomplete. Informed delivery shows the address is correct. I filed a report and no one has contacted me. You cannot get through this voice response hell. Why does it even exist?

    Jul 16, 2022
  • anon

    I'm facing the same exact issue.

    Jul 18, 2022
  • anon

    Abyssmal , horrible, terrible, and any other negative term I could ever use about telephone and online tools. whoever designed this must have done so with the aim of thwarting any desire of any person ever from ever using the US postal service. If this was a private service, I would never use it.

    Jun 24, 2022
  • anon

    Terrible service. Very frustrating cause the automated voice doesn’t answer questions. I need a live person.

    Jun 24, 2022
  • anon

    Everytime I try and use this number my cell says the number can’t be completed as dialed. I use the box you click on that says dial this number so I am not miss dialing. I’ve tried it with both just numbers and the one with the askups stuff.

    Jun 23, 2022
  • anon

    The call number is useless. Nearly everything to file or contact is an endless circle to keep people from being able to file complaints. Orangeburg SC postal service has become a very big problem and getting worst by the day. Something can’t be done fast enough. Our business mail and personal mail is affected. Other businesses and others in general are talking about the same thing can’t count in the mail. Wow!

    Jun 22, 2022
  • anon

    1-800-ask-usps is the ONLY USPS number that you can call and actually speak to a human being. None of the Post Offices in the Harrisburg, PA area (15-20-25???offices) Not a one answers their phone. They just let it ring until you feel like hanging up. They don't care how many times their phone rings. NO ONE EVER picks up the phone. The INSPECTOR GENERAL TELEPHONE NUMBER IS OUT OF SERVICE...NO ONE ANSWERS THAT NUMBER EITHER. GOOD LUCK FILING A CLAIM. USPS IS FUCKED UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jun 17, 2022
  • anon

    I’ve been so confused reading all these comments, thinking, Is everyone calling the same number. No,No, they couldn’t be. Is that 1-800 number the one everyone is calling? If so, everybody knows to never call a 1-800 number because there so generic. Well I thought everyone knew. So they provide 1 number to serve the ENTIRE country of America. Well no wonder it’s always Busy. The whole country is trying to call it at the same time. Every post office Building in every town is required to have a Land Line, for safety reasons, and a quick google search can provide you with your own towns Post Office Number. I’ll give you a Hint (it should start with your area code that you live in) On occasion, I’ll call up my local Post Office, and a supervisor working at that office answers every time, nicest lady, and promptly helps me with whatever concerns I have at the time. Why call a hotline in Washington DC for help in a small town in California. And remember, the Post Office is providing service to EVERY ADDRESS in America, which can be a tall order, patience and gratitude go along way with them.

    Jun 22, 2022
  • anon

    No, no, no - every post office does not have a landline. I tried and tried to call the number listed for my local post office and finally got in the car and drove there to get an answer to my question. The lady there said that the phone had been removed about two years ago. I told her that the number was still on their website and it would be helpful if she could refer the issue to her supervisors. She said that wasn't her job and referred me to the local sorting facility, that also told me they didn't do that there. A referral to the national "hel[p]" line yielded the wonderful results everyone posting here has experienced.

    Sep 25, 2022
  • anon

    I’ve the same complaint about the the automated voice system. I tried to call the usps office in Durham to see if a graduation card got to a friend of mine who lives there and I didn’t get any human contact or connection.

    Jun 14, 2022
  • anon

    I need a way to speak to a live person because the automated system DOES NOT resolve my issue.

    Jun 08, 2022
  • anon

    Horrible

    Jun 01, 2022
  • anon

    Garbage automated system. There is NO WAY to talk to a human. So frustrating.

    May 27, 2022
  • anon

    The IVR system options I've explored, and they are many, do not appear to lead to a human contact. My issue requires a human interaction. I have been unable to return a call form a USPS employee I've been working with concerning post office agreement with the Town of Washington Grove. The number provided to me by the USPS employee, Ms Deborah Chambers, ‭(202) 636-2296‬, has not been ansewered after more than 10 calls over 3 days, and each time leads to a voice mail which will not accept messages.

    May 09, 2022
  • anon

    Your ivr system needs a key to put you strait to an operator it is no help to what i need what ever happend to using 0

    Apr 18, 2022
  • anon

    The first two times I got a series of adds and I got disconnected when I tried to click through them. Now every time I call it says not available in your service area.

    Apr 15, 2022
  • anon

    I am one of many who out of frustration had to just hang up as opposed to ever getting to speak to an agent as the voice assistant is not capable of transferring calls it cannot comprehend to an agent it just keeps repeating itself over and over and out of frustration the only resolution is to hang up. Packages come from China in 3 days then lay in the vast wasteland of the usps for days without going anywhere no way to contact customer service no help from our usless administration as all they want to do is form comittees to waste more tax payer money.

    Apr 09, 2022
  • anon

    I did not get a live body first time I called. Tried the next day and got someone. Trying multiple times and can’t get an agent This is the most frustrating IVR I have some package that’s been in the system since March 22. Have no clue what it is.

    Apr 05, 2022
  • anon

    Tried to call to straighten out a problem with delivery. Daughter got a note on her mailbox saying an attempt was made to deliver a package from me, but said it was postage due. It's already paid for. Phone system was not picking up any keystrokes or voice input at all. Nothing I did made any difference.

    Mar 30, 2022
  • anon

    ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE IVR THE WORST-ON-THE-PLANET. No system should ever default to just HANGING-UP on the customer just because the IVR navigation is not going along as desired. [1] YOUR SYSTEM should default to connecting to an agent if the IVR is not understanding the customer AND [2] *HIRE* enough competent educated people instead of just making millions of people wait AN ENTIRE HOUR MORE MORE to speak with a real person. UTTER HYPOCRISY by USPS management and rich execs. Is that what YOU would want when calling a customer service center. CALL YOUR OWN SYSTEM. Experience the aggravation that everyone else has to experience.

    Mar 28, 2022
  • anon

    This is literally the most goofed off horrific customer care system ive ever dealt with. Says I’ve had a package delivered. Well says “ was delivered to Canada” which is probably the least descriptive thing it could say and won’t accept tracking number and hangs up. Complete joke

    Mar 15, 2022
  • anon

    I have called several times regarding a package that has Been “in possession of the Usps” for 8 days now. I want to speak to a live person but it just goes on a continuous loop! So so frustrating! Ridiculous!

    Mar 15, 2022
  • anon

    I want to talk to someone A REAL PERSON about my priority package that has been in transit for 6 going on 7 days now. But the leesburg GA post office refuses to answer any phone calls i make i live 14 hours away wth is going on?!

    Mar 12, 2022
  • anon

    I have lost two packages with USPS. I tried calling the help hotline to talk to a human. But every time the automated system would just loop back to the beginning. It’s very frustrating that I cannot get the help I need. There needs to be a more efficient way to get help when needed.

    Mar 12, 2022
  • anon

    Maddening is a complete understatement. It's a living hell, having to navigate thru the computerized answering system that never hears what your saying & hangs up on you, after spending 10 minutes pressing buttons, giving a 22 digit number, repeating the number, being sent back to the start. I just wish the supervisors who approved this horrible system had to endure it themselves at least once a day. Maybe then, and only then, would it change to something that people could actually use, without raising their blood pressure through the roof.

    Mar 10, 2022
  • anon

    This system is maddening. No person at all. I'm trying to find a package that should have been delivered last week. It's been at a standstill since arriving in this city. USPS manager at the nearest location says it's still on a barge and he doesn't know when it'll be delivered!!!! How? It would be great to speak to someone removed from the situation who may be able to clarify the situation. That's not possible with the system looped to check the tracking information that I already have.

    Mar 08, 2022
  • anon

    If you in your right mind think that this automated service works AT ALL you are delusional. I have been trying for days to get a hold of a HUMAN BEING at USPS and I cannot get an answer. My package was not delivered because of a "wrong address" but the address is NOT WRONG. The automated service only tells me, after entering my tracking information, that the delivery address is wrong and that I must contact the sender. Which I did. They had the correct address. I called back to USPS and got the same automated directions. After entering the tracking number again, they ask me if this solved my problem, and I say "NO," to which they take me back to the main menu. When I ask to speak with someone or press 0, it tells me that in order to speak with a customer service agent, I will need to have a tracking number. When I give the tracking number, it goes back to the same loop that I received earlier. IT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN BEING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE PROBLEM IS. DOES ANYONE WORK AT THE POSTAL SERVICE. I EVEN CALLED MY LOCAL BRANCH MULTIPLE TIMES AND NO ONE IS PICKING UP.

    Mar 01, 2022
  • anon

    Horrible Service in every aspect from the bottom to the top ..Customer service. Employees amd services are the worst i have ever dealt with and will never use them ..I dont even want my mail delivered from them.

    Feb 20, 2022
  • anon

    Asks for agent, you're forced to put in a tracking number, you start putting in the tracking number and it interrupts you and you start over, same thing happens, over and over until the system hangs up on you. Pointlessly long speeches you have to sit through in order to get to the next section. Simple voice commands don't even work. Total garbage automation. Probably intentional. Pathetic.

    Feb 17, 2022
  • anon

    Our recent experiences with the customer service phone system has been horrible! It is the WORST system that we have ever encountered! Every time we try to talk to a human it just shifts back to the menu. It doesn’t matter what you do or what steps you take. You can yell scream type zero a million times. It doesn’t matter if you have a tracking number or not nothing ever works! We have been trying to file complaints about our packages being improperly delivered by the substitute drivers. Yet we can never talk to a human. You give a tracking number that is in reference to the item you want to complain about and the computer tells you it has been delivered and hangs you up or sends you back to the main menu. This is a house hold with elderly and disabled! There is no excuse for a system to be so automated and it is seriously lacking the customer service that our country needs now more than ever!

    Feb 15, 2022

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