People tend to attach special meaning to certain places. It turns out, the post office is just such a place for many rural Americans.
Rural customers value the social aspects of the U.S. Postal Service, including its place in the community, according to our latest white paper, Addressing the Diverse Needs and Wants of Rural America: Opportunities for the U.S. Postal Service.
More than half of rural customers know their postmaster, clerk, or carrier by first name, which adds to their satisfaction with their post office. This familiarity and social interaction are not as common in non-rural areas (such as big cities), our research indicates.
To learn how rural and non-rural Americans engage with the Postal Service, we fielded a nationally-representative survey, hosted a moderated online discussion board, and conducted interviews with Postal Service employees and executives.
Rural customers are less likely than non-rural customers to have mail or package delivery service at their physical address. This means going to the post office to pick up their mail. Parcel lockers make sense in rural areas. Our research found rural (and non-rural) customers also want additional non-core post office hours, specifically weeknight retail window hours.
Rural customers also tend to send more mail than their non-rural counterparts and they look forward to checking their mailbox more frequently. Rural customers are more likely than non-rural customers to find local ad mail relevant to their lives.
All of this adds up to distinct needs for the rural customer. We recommend that the Postal Service ensure its retail products and services target those needs. One way would be to gather periodic feedback from rural customers. In addition, we recommend USPS explore partnering with state and local governments to expand services such as offering hunting and fishing licenses in rural areas.
Are you a rural or non-rural customer? How are your needs different from other postal customers? What ways could the Postal Service better serve rural and non-rural communities?