We all know that management mantra “what gets measured gets managed.” Hence, much attention is placed on the U.S. Postal Service’s service standards and service performance goals.

But what about its strategy to improve First-Class Mail (FCM) service scores when they don’t meet the performance goals? That’s what we looked at in the Northeast Area in our recent audit report. We found the Postal Service uses a solid planning tool, but that it sometimes left parts of the plan incomplete, hurting overall effectiveness. We also found USPS didn’t meet performance goals most of the time, raising questions about the current goals’ relevance.

Service standards are effectively timeliness goals for delivering FCM after USPS receives it from a customer. A service standard represents the level of service the Postal Service attempts to provide to its customers.

The service standard is determined by which geographic location the mail comes from and to which geographic location mail is going. A mailpiece’s combined origin and destination is known as a “service pair,” and examining these pairs allows the Postal Service to evaluate service performance.

The Postal Service measures six FCM service performance goals, including overnight, two-day and three-to-five-day commercial mail, as well as First-Class package services. USPS continues to use its long-time External First-Class Mail measurement system, which measures single-piece letters, flats, and packages.

We analyzed performance scores for over 4,000 service pairs that sent FCM to and from the Northeast Area between January 2015 and September 2017. We determined that almost 93 percent of service pairs were below the Postal Service’s performance goals.

We determined that the Northeast Area did not achieve its goals because of failures in collection, processing, transportation, and delivery. Management said failures were due to a range of factors, including missed mail collection box pickups, mail arriving late at processing facilities, machine maintenance issues, and weather-related delays.

We recommended the Postal Service evaluate the relevance of current FCM service performance goals in light of the large number of service pairs not meeting goals. We also recommended USPS establish an ongoing process to ensure the tool it uses to plan and improve service performance is current and complete.

What strategies would you recommend for improving FCM service performance when scores don’t meet goals?

Comments (10)

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  • anon

    I received my order from Amazon via USPS. It was marked FRAGILE. The USPS carrier forced it into my mailbox and damaged the product on the flag retainer which protrudes into the inside of the mailbox. The product was circular but a very tight fit. When it caught on the flag retainer, the carrier forced it past, thereby damaging the product. I wrote a complaint online to USPS. I was called after 2 days. Apparently products need to be insured to protect against USPS negligence and laziness before customers are compensated. Unreasonable in this case, the carrier should have delivered it to the front door. The customer service representative made it clear that she was un-sympathetic. I avoid USPS to the extent I can because of the poor performance but in this case it was the manufacturer's choice.

    Aug 21, 2018
  • anon

    It’s unfortunate complaints can’t be accepted on any site or phone. How do you resolve issues with carrier?

    Jul 18, 2018
  • anon

    ​Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with customer service issues. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service at the USPS website "Help" page. Select email us then choose the tab marked "Personnel."

    Jul 18, 2018
  • anon

    The USPS lost my birthday box for my seven year old cousin and didn't seem to care. There was no one that would answer their phone or take responsibility for the loss. I didn't get any response until I contacted Seven On Your Side...the local television help service. We'll see if the insurance money is paid to me. Your service is inept and is very frustrating to the customer, as there is no recourse when packages disappear. I will NEVER use the USPS again!!!!

    Jul 08, 2018
  • anon

    For the last 10 to 12 months when we order products through Amazon, who uses USPS for the final leg of delivery, packages are typically delivered one or two days late to zip code 93901. On at least two occasions I have gone to the post office and asked to speak to the Post Master, Mike Eden, about this and he is always out of office on “official duties.” I spoke to my delivery person and they commented that on time delivery never happens at his home. From the post office I get excuses like my box is inaccessible (never since it’s on a 12 unit post), the business was closed (it’s a residence) or no one was home (my wife is disabled and doesn’t drive.) We make special efforts to be home when we are expecting packages with the rise of package theft. We have had times when the package was marked undeliverable at 4:30pm and the “new hire” delivery person “put it in the wrong bin between 8:30 and 9:00” because they have to be back at a certain time. How do you mark something undeliverable at 4:30 and not get back until hours later. Requests for an explanation from our post master go unanswered and his phone rings until it automatically hangs up. Calling the complaint line puts you on hold for nearly an hour. I’m on hold now. 27 minutes and counting. POTUS has said Amazon is taking money the USPS. It looks to me like not delivering mail on time is taking business the post office.

    Jul 06, 2018
  • anon

    Sometimes it's hard to see where the rubber meets the road when the way we understand something doesn't reflect the thing itself. The Post Office needs to remember that post offices can be analyzed through quantitative measures, but they are grounded in qualitative demands. When Ben Franklin was a young man in Philadelphia, he joined a group of young working class thinkers called the Junto. They approached notions of self-improvement with an open mind by engaging in critical open dialogue. That is to say, they did not assume that they already knew the answers. Some of the quantitative approaches the PO engages in currently betrays a certain tendency that undermines the spirit of open minded inquiry that is necessary if the Post Office truly intends to solve many of the problems it is currently facing. What the Post Office needs is an honest, open-minded, critical dialogue that seeks to reengage the spirit of those young thinkers surrounding Franklin and the Junto in the late 1720's; the spirit that did not assume that it already knew the calculus that would mathematically define an answer. While this thought is a bit rhetorical, I think it speaks to several tendencies inside the USPS lately that often times forgets that while we are beholden to the almighty dollar, there is a quality of service that the Post Office is charged with executing.

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    There are no words to convey my dissatisfaction with USPS!

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    As a Mailhandler I’m aware that management wants us to get bigger numbers. I’m of the impression that we get our work done. That’s all I know. Sharing information, employee training, and not just trashcaning employee input would improve important numbers. This is not just “nice” thinking. Coincidently I recently received the summer 2018 Great Lakes Area Update. Front page, main article, “Yellow belt training motivates Detroit P&DC employees.” At what point will such things as this, proven to work for quite some time, become standard practice at USPS facilities (or just P&DCs like the one I work at)?

    Jul 03, 2018
  • anon

    So you want to get touchy-feely about service standards and goals... Seems usps is not meeting them. So you want to review the standards.... How about working on the underlying causes... You even cite them in this piece. Misses mail pick ups, mail arriving late, yadda,yadda, yadda. Ask the managers why they don't meet standards and you don't listen when they tell you... The system was gutted, many mid level managers haven't a clue, and you wonder why the postal pulse is a joke. They are all connected. The folks who actually touch the mail are tired of not being able to do their jobs properly... It's a management problem and you are also part of it...

    Jul 02, 2018
  • anon

    With the tremendous increase in package delivery it would be appropriate tocreate another class of mail carrier to take away the burden on the carriers carrying FCM letters. Create a reasonable limit for packages per route in each office and the overload put out on a package truck with a dedicated deliverer..............William

    Jul 02, 2018

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