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?