BACKGROUND:

Self-service kiosks (SSKs) are in about 2,300 post offices nationwide. The majority of the kiosks are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. SSKs enable customers to buy stamps and postal products and to process about 80 percent of those transactions normally handled by retail window clerks.

The U.S. Postal Service evaluates the effectiveness of an SSK by measuring the customer adoption percentage, which is the percentage of applicable transactions performed at an SSK instead of by a retail clerk.

Our objective was to assess the SSK initiative in customer service operations.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

Customers were not using SSKs as anticipated. As of June 30, 2013, the SSK performance rate was 26.11 percent, 8.9 percentage points below the fiscal year (FY) 2013 nationwide customer adoption percentage target of 35 percent. This occurred due to several factors, including inconsistent signage, positioning of some SSKs in partially obscured locations, and lobby assistants who were not always trained and used effectively to promote SSK usage. The Postal Service could eliminate over 249,877 customer service retail window workhours and save about $12 million annually if it improved SSK promotion and customer assistance on the use of SSKs.

The Postal Service also incurred unnecessary SSK supply costs in FY 2012. A software issue prevented kiosk sensors from correctly identifying when all label paper used to print ondemand stamps had been used. Management began corrective action in February 2013 to address the sensor issue; therefore, we are not making a recommendation on this issue.

In related matters, we provided management with kiosk-related industry strategies and implementation practices for its consideration.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, and the vice president, Channel Access, establish a national initiative to train additional lobby assistants, and assess SSK signage and placement. We also recommended deploying lobby assistants to promote and educate customers on SSK usage and eliminate 249,877 workhours to achieve cost savings of about $24 million over 2 years. Finally, we recommended evaluating industry best practices using SSKs and identifying any barriers to implementation.

Comments (1)

  • anon

    Today at the Grand Central Station (NY) post office I shipped a package using the USPS provided Small Priority Mail Flat Rate box. There was a USPS employee who walked me over to the self-service kiosk and proceeded to input the information for me. I was then charged $8.50 by weight of the box and not the Flat Rate of $7.15, which to my own detriment discovered only after I left and logged onto the USPS website to begin tracking the package. I immediately emailed USPS through their website requesting the $1.35, though it's highly unlikely they will refund me as the receipt clearly states no refunds for postage. While being scammed out of an extra $1.35 won't send me to the poor house, one has to wonder if this is some sort of scam the USPS is using by asking their employees to enter the shipping information on the self-service kiosk for unsuspecting customers. Imagine $1.35 multiplied by thousands per day, if not more. Not right at all.

    Dec 26, 2017