The customer is king, or queen. It’s an age-old mantra that rings especially true in this age of the “empowered” customer.

The U.S. Postal Service has a lot of kings and queens. Last year, 857 million retail customers visited the more than 30,000 USPS-managed retail spaces, generating nearly $10 billion (14 percent) of the Postal Service’s $69.6 billion operating revenue.

As our recent audit report noted, research consistently shows that focusing on the customer experience is a successful growth strategy, more profitable than focusing primarily on trying to recruit new customers.

We set out to evaluate the postal customer experience, including a detailed look at ways to improve the overall retail experience. Our auditors visited 136 post offices nationwide while posing as customers. We also expanded on the retail customer service data the Postal Service collects through customer surveys and mystery shoppers.

We were dissatisfied with our overall experience at 32 sites, or nearly a quarter of post offices visited. Based on these results, we estimate customers at about one in four post offices across the country would have negative experiences.

We attributed our dissatisfaction at the 32 retail units to the absence of one or more of five key factors to a positive retail experience:

  • Engagement: Polite, genuine caring, and showing interest in helping customers.
  • Executional Excellence: Patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping find products, and having product knowledge.
  • Brand Experience: Maintaining an exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently providing great product quality, and making customers feel they are connected to products and services offered.
  • Expediting: Sensitivity to customers’ time in long check-out lines and proactive help to expedite the process.
  • Problem Recovery: Helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality, and ensuring complete satisfaction.

We found USPS fell particularly short on engagement, execution, and brand experience.

What factor(s) is most important to you in a satisfying customer experience at your local post office?

Comments (9)

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  • anon

    Last night, I received outstanding customer service from my mail delivery person, Sean. She was great! I had been trying to track down a missing package for a few days and was having trouble getting help from my local postmaster and from the 1-800 number. The package was stuck in some weird tracking limbo and was nowhere to be found. I chased Sean down last night after she dropped off my mail and explained the situation. She stopped, she listened, and she was kind. When I said “it’s late, I don’t want to hold you up”, she said, “ma’am, it’s my job to make sure you get your mail and that’s what I’m going to do” and that’s what she did. I had the package the next day. Thank you, Sean! You restored my faith in USPS mail delivery and because of you, I will continue to send and receive mail and packages via USPS instead of seeking an alternative shipping provider.

    Nov 14, 2018
  • anon

    Hello, Lauren. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Much of the extra effort provided by U.S. Postal Service employees often goes unrecognized, so your comments are appreciated. We have recorded your compliment and will share it with Postal Service management.

    Nov 15, 2018
  • anon

    Are there rules for when the post office must have the mail put in your box at the post office? The office that I work at in Statesville NC for almost 8 yrs now has most of the time went by 9-9:30 but now we can't even get the mail by 10:30 - 11:00 is some cases, today we going to go back around 12:30 - 1:00.

    Nov 14, 2018
  • anon

    You want happier customers? STAY OPEN in the evening. I have a business and could give so much better service if you stayed open later.

    Oct 25, 2018
  • anon

    I live about 30 miles outside a rural town in southeastern New Mexico with about 700 people population. The small post office in town delivers to my mailbox at the end of the blacktop paved road about 5 miles away from my home. My Local Post Office is Awesome :) ! They hold packages for me until I can meet my carrier on the route at my mailbox, and she delivers regular mail every day to my locked roadside small mailbox. My post office rocks :) , even through the last years of postal budget cuts and post office hours shortening. * Okay so - the one area my small rural post office is short on is “Problem Recovery”. * That’s it. In all the other categories you’ve listed above, they are my Heros kerping me connected to the world at large while I putz and run around 24/7 on my rural desert homestead. -Irene.

    Oct 18, 2018
  • anon

    I'm 60 and have been using the post office for some time. I've also lived in the Oxnard/Port Hueneme CA area for 36 years. I just wanted to say that the Port Hueneme Post Office is the best ever. I don't live near that particular Post Office. but will go out of my way to use it. They are fast, efficient, very friendly and handle each customer as though they are the only ones that matter.

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    Carrier refuses to leave my mail in our mailbox because she doesn’t want anyone parking on the street even though we are more than 8 feet from the mailbox. I have several pictures to prove where the car is parked. The landlord does not allow cars parked in the yard. Nor can we park our cars in the house. So what should we do about this problem with this female carrier?

    Oct 16, 2018
  • anon

    I'm a CCA I can tell you this. If your mail carrier cannot get her mail truck in and out to deliver to your mailbox without having to back up her vehicle, or having to get out, this is why your not receiving your mail. We are not supposed to back up unless absolutely necessary. We have zero windows, a lot of blind spots, to much room for error and accidents, backing! Second if you have a mailbox that is on your curbside and delivery is from her truck, if she has to get out because she cannot get her truck in and out without backing up her vehicle, their are many procedures that have to be done before she can even lift her butt off that seat and get out. These vehicles are old. They shift in and out of gear easily, so again lots of room for error and accidents. If we are going to leave our vehicles, we are to curb our wheels, curb or no curb, pull our emergency break, put the vehicle in park, turn the vehicle off, and remove keys from ignition. Every step is to be taken to insure there isn't a roll away run away truck. Carriers have had their own trucks run them over, run children over etc. So.....this is why your female carrier is not delivering to your mailbox with you car (only) 8 feet from your mailbox. She's not trying to be rude. We are already stretched very thin for time by our unrealistic supervisors. And we are out very late most nights. Some of us truly do care about customer service. I know Some don't. But there are still some of us left that do. She's probably really not trying to upset you, or being lazy. It's just rules. And there's safety reasons behind them! If she's left you a notice about your vehicle being in the way, than this is why. She's technically given you the proper notification, and your vehicle was still in the way of delivery. Allot of people don't realize how much clearance you need to leave for a vehicle to pull in and than away from the mailbox. I really do hope this clears things up a bit. :)

    Nov 15, 2018
  • anon

    Cute - you want my email. Freudian? Well, I enjoyed your diatribe. Why then, is postage increasing and the profit of USPS falling? The service is so poor in SoFl it’s like a 3rd world country or the wild-wild-west. Use the increased postage to buy new vehicles and abandon the lush retirement for all future employees. OR deliver on horseback.

    Nov 18, 2018

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