IG Pushes For Better Customer Experience At Postal Service

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, Jamesa Euler, delivers mail, in Atlanta.

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, Jamesa Euler, delivers mail, in Atlanta. David Goldman/AP File Photo

One of the first things the service needs to do is to get more feedback from customers.

For a time, the U.S. Postal Service provided the best customer experience among all federal agencies, but internal assessments of customer satisfaction decreased since 2015, according to an audit by the Postal Service inspector general.

The audit highlights stagnant customer satisfaction scores derived from the Postal Service’s annual Delivery Survey, which appear to coincide with a diminished public perception of the agency’s performance over the same time period.

The drop comes even as Postal Service introduced new services like Informed Delivery, where customers can have images of their mail emailed to them.

There’s no singular fix, but the IG recommended several tweaks to the Postal Service’s internal Delivery Survey that could boost the Postal Service’s effectiveness.

One of the most obvious fixes is also among the most important: boosting the response rate. The survey is sent to more than 5.7 million people annually, yet its response rate hovers around one percent, which the IG calls “rather low.”

Other recommendations include clarifying questions, making survey responses more actionable and weighting responses. According to the IG, younger age groups are “underrepresented” in survey responses compared to the total population, so the views of older age cohorts are disproportionately represented in the current survey.

The audit is chock full of in-the-weeds customer experience data and a must-read for federal customer experience practitioners, said Stephanie Thum, a consultant and former vice president of Customer Experience for the Export-Import Bank.

Thum lauded the IG for pushing for improved customer experience at Postal Service and said their efforts should serve as an example for other agencies.

“It’s not unheard of, but it is rare for IGs to come to the plate for customer experience in government,” Thum said. “I've been saying for a while that IGs could be one of the most influential voices for CX in government, as long as their inspections are grounded in the core concepts and principles of CX as a management discipline as defined by the impartial, nonprofit [Customer Experience Professionals Association]. I think it would help move the government CX conversation along.”