on Apr 9th, 2013 in Products & Services | 11 comments
 

The U.S. Postal Service has a wide spectrum of customers, from businesses and organizations to every household in the United States. Balancing the needs of these customers is no small task, yet satisfying them is essential to the Postal Service’s success. With that in mind, the Postal Service has made improving the customer experience one of the key elements of its strategic goals.

For consumers, customer service ranges from wait time in lobbies to letter carrier service to interaction with postal staff at a Post Office. Business mailers might focus on different aspects of customer service, such as delivery performance, interaction with acceptance personnel, or how quickly a service problem is resolved. What customers might not realize is that the Postal Service relies on a number of systems to support customer services and to improve a user’s overall experience. These systems can also reduce manual inputs, increase efficiency, and streamline operations. Often seamless to customers, these sophisticated systems have helped to make mail a reliable method of communications. However, when they go down or work inefficiently, it can lead to negative customer experiences, which might impact future business opportunities.

For example, business mailers use the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) system to set up appointments to enter mail at postal facilities. FAST collects and monitors appointment data for the facilities, which improves the efficiency and effectiveness of appointment creation for both customers and Postal Service management. Business mailers also rely on PostalOne!, a suite of web-based business capabilities that allows mailers to integrate their mail planning and production processes with those of the Postal Service for “seamless” and efficient mail induction.

Consumers are more likely to use the Postal Service’s website usps.com to research or access services, such as purchasing postage, looking up ZIP Codes, printing shipping labels, or submitting a change of address form. And although retail customers might not realize it, their customer experience hinges on the Point of Service (POS) Retail system, which automates retail transactions at post offices and other retail counters.

When these systems are working properly, customers may not think about them at all. But if these systems experience an outage, the customer experience could be entirely different. Our office is reviewing these systems as part of an audit and would like to hear from customers. What have your experiences been when using FAST, PostalOne!, usps.com and other types of services? Are they consistently available? Or have you experienced system availability problems?

For business customers, has system availability or slow response times affected your own internal processes, such as transportation schedules or other mail entry issues? For retail customers, have you had problems accessing information or services on usps.com? We also welcome comments of Postal Service employees on their experiences with these applications and the services they support.

While the scope of our audit is limited to systems review, we welcome input on the entire customer experience.

11 Comments

It amazes me that a small package, slightly larger than a greeting card, can take at least six days to travel 250 miles between huge metropolitan areas. After five days an attempt was made to use the automated system with the tracking number to discover the whereabouts of the malingering package. Alas the automated system didn't like the tracking number even though it showed on the track and confirm page --- this makes no sense at all. Finally, in despair, a prompting to the merchant produced the information that the lonely package had been found and might be delivered in my lifetime. Such efficiency should be worth some sort of award and probably result in a number of bonuses for senior management.

The OIG appreciates your feedback on this blog. Please consider your option to file a complaint at your local post office.

Due to family illness, I travel from my home in Georgia to Pennsylvania frequently. Despite having submitted an online change of address form mail is intermittently left at my home in Ga. or marked return to sender. My banks and other billers become concerned when the bills are returned to them,bills get paid late because they are sitting in Ga. while I am in Pa. Today I went to USPS to extend the temporary address change and after failing online called the USPS telephone number. I was told my confirmation number is not used by the post office. However I saved the email sent by USPS and the number I gave the person on the phone is the number sent to me by the postal workers change of address site. How do you expect to remain in business when this simplee service is so badly managed ?

It's no wonder why the postal service is losing money. I had a package shipped to me in Louisiana from Illinois. The package went from Illinois to Tennessee to California and back to Tennessee before supposedly heading to Louisiana. Its been in route for 7 days now and I still haven't received it. All the USPS customers service reps can tell me is that because it's a ground shipment, the trucks take different routes when dropping packages. Tennessee to California and back to Tennessee. Please!!!

I had a letter sent from a USPS "Customer Care" rep in my area, from a post office in an adjacent zip code. I've finally received it 3 WEEKS later. This letter (which didn't have a tracking number, but was in a USPS official envelope) never left town. I could have walked, picked up the letter, took a bike ride to the country to the north of me, spend a few days having a relaxing time, ride home, walk back over and pick the letter up again, and have been home before this letter finally decides to show up. I'm pretty sure the only reason that this particular letter was even delivered at all is that it was an official letter from USPS. I was told that the letter should take a maximum of 2 business days to arrive (3 if there was a very high volume of mail), but it didn't show up for 3 WEEKS. If your people can't take a letter from one Post Office to it's neighboring Post Office, and have it out for delivery within a few days, that's absurd. That is precisely why I'm not using USPS for any outgoing post, as are most of the people within my zip code. Until the Postal Employees decide to act like it's "Grown up working time" you WILL continue to lose money and lose business.

The OIG appreciates your feedback on this blog. Please consider your option to file a complaint at your local post office.

I've been raising the issue and trying to go up the chain from my Postman, to the Local Post Office Branch, to the Local Customer Service Line, and the 1-800-ASK-USPS line for nearly 3 and a half years. I'd finally given up when I was told directly that "Mis-delivered mail, Non-delivery of mail, Theft of mail, or any other thing that prevents you from receiving mail is not the problem of the United States Postal Service" after trying to chase down a package that contained the only instance of a part that will fix my aging stove that I could find. I was them told to call the seller and let them know "Simply because the status of the package reads delivered, doesn't mean that anything was actually delivered. Send another one.". The problem with that is there simply aren't any more. I've been scolded by utility companies, my parents, my spouse's parents, online merchants that send using USPS even AFTER I've instructed them not to, and anyone else that tries to reach me via USPS. I'm not sure if everyone at my local branch is using drugs, or feel that since their job is secure that they don't have to do it, or what their problem is, but it's gone so far beyond unacceptable that I felt as though there was no alternative but to contact the USPS Inspector General Hotline. If you'll read the reviews of the branch (Including the filtered ones) You'll see that I'm not the only person having issues [ http://www.yelp.com/biz/us-post-office-seatac ]. Sure, there are a few people in town that are ecstatic that they can go to the branch at strange hours, but the people that are supposed to be served are generally not pleased even a little bit. When I asked if I could use a locking Mailbox, my Carrier claimed that I could not, while the Customer Service people scolded me for not using one, and suggested one "For the low low price of $1750.00". While I lose at least that much money due to Postal Antics annually, I work for a living. When I asked if I could rent a P.O. Box, they said there weren't any left. When I asked if I could have my mail carried by a far closer post office, or use a P.O. Box there for delivery to my "Street Address" which is required by nearly all shippers these days, That too was "Unacceptable". I've asked everything I can think of, tried talking to everyone I could find or get a number for, and every time I get a "Call so and so" and when I ask for the number for whomever they're trying to pawn me off to I get an attitude as though I should know every Postal Employee's phone number. I then asked if there was a directory, since obviously, if I'm to know this information, it must be published somewhere. They said that there was no such publication, but the onus was on me to figure out who so-and-so is, what their capacity to help is, and since I'm not a mind reader they'll eventually begrudgingly give me a phone number, then usually promptly hang up. Then I hear the old "We'll call you back." When I ask "What should I do WHEN you don't", then they'll tell me that "IF, on the extremely remote chance that you don't get a call back, call me back directly - here's my direct number". Those numbers never work. Best case I get a non-working number, worst case I end up ranting to some poor individual who happened to have the imaginary number that I'm given for a "Direct Line". Yes, 3 and a half years. I've recently given up because there's no point. Maybe you guys can knock some sense in to these clowns, but even considering filing a complaint at my local post office at this point seems to be the same as asking one's abusing father to deal with their abusive father.

I agree with Kurt in that filing another complaint with the office you are having problems with is a waste of time and there should be some over sight from a regional office or someone other than the person you have a problem with. My local P.O. said I could complain somewhere else and when the problem was referred back to them they would handle the again at that time. There will be no satisfaction for the customer.

The OIG appreciates your feedback on this blog. Please consider your option to file a complaint at your local post office.

I cannot believe how rude the customer service agent whom helps the public at the Cheshire, Connecticut post office is! She has worked there for years but over the years I have seen her go from friendly and helpful to downright rude and cranky. I guess it is due to less help and more work for her but I have been treated disrespectfully on more than one occassion. It is unfortunate that customer service like this is allowed to continue. I guess I can talk to her boss but I am afraid that my mail might be sabotaged! I would never treat or talk to someone like this woman does!

RUDE customer service for DEWITT POSTAL SERVICE in DEWITT, MICHIGAN----I lost 8 mail boxes due to storms--DEC. 2013 /JAN. 2014-----MY MAIL WAS not delivered--I can go with that--for pic-up on my part. BUT, to be talk down to and insulted by whom ever answered the phone when I called---and treated like a second hand citizen by this POSTAL OFFICE--TERRIBLE. They would not help me---not give me any info--I called the ROAD COMMISSION--they came out fix the mail-box--gave me a new one---number 8 (didn't have to pay 4 this one or labor--$210.) That was for labor only---The month before this one! The ROAD COMMISSION told me to ask the POST OFFICE that brings my mail---"where can I relocate my mailbox so this does not keep happening. GOT KNOW ANSWERS/ NO NICE--GOT HANG-UP ON!

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