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?