August 20, 2018 (RARC-WP-18-012)

  • While customers were satisfied with Customer Care Center (CCC) agents, one in three was not satisfied with the overall experience.
  • The Postal Service cannot handle current CCC call volume, a problem that could worsen with parcel growth.
  • Reducing wait times and giving agents better tools, training, and organizational support will empower them to resolve customer issues and improve customer satisfaction.

Trying to track a package? Need to schedule a redelivery? You can do both at USPS.com. But if you prefer to get the information by phone, or you have a more complex issue that you need to discuss, you are not alone. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, more than 60 million people called 1-800-ASK-USPS or other postal customer service numbers. The majority used the automated system to seek information, but 19 million callers attempted to speak to a customer service agent. Of those, only 11.5 million successfully reached one, waiting on average more than 13 minutes.

We examined the customer experiences associated with the Postal Service’s Customer Care Centers (CCCs). We found four ways USPS could improve the customer experience: preventing calls with better information and fixing underlying issues; decreasing customer effort when calling the CCCs; shortening the wait to speak to an agent; and improving the ability of agents to solve problems on the spot. We also identified a business arrangement that could affect the overall customer experience.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management:

  • Evaluate whether efforts to make package tracking messages more customer friendly are reducing unnecessary calls to the CCCs.
  • Expand use of call back technology to reduce customer wait times on hold and abandoned calls.
  • Develop and implement a CCC staffing plan to decrease customer wait time to speak to an agent.
  • Establish a cross-organizational mechanism to keep CCC staff aware of and trained on product changes that might lead to customer calls.

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Comments (43)

We welcome your comments related to the topic on this page. Complaints about the Postal Service, including lost, stolen or mishandled mail, that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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  • anon

    Completely garbage. I’ve been trying to contact USPS for a lost package and this is what has happened: 1. Calling customer service is completely dreadful. You have to go through a whole bunch of automated non-sense just to get directed to an agent in the first place. Then you wait AT LEAST one hour to talk to an agent if one even decides to answer. And if they do decide to answer, much of the time they’re acting like complete knobheads. 2. The USPS website is also utter garbage. Tried to file a missing package claim multiple times, but the form would absolutely never load, no matter what browser I was using. Then tried to use the email form, which also didn’t work because it starts to glitch when you fill in information. 3. Lastly, I tried to directly email USPS from my own email, and I’ve yet to receive any answer back. Real nice.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    USPS Customer Service (and I use that term loosely) is reprehensible. Hold times are frequently over an hour and (if it doesn't hang up), the representatives are zero help. They indicate that they will note the case and send an email to the district manager, which, in my case, did not happen. A package was mailed from Baton Rouge LA on 2/4/2019 to me in Palm Coast FL, but was misdirected to Lake Lady FL. who told me they sent it back to Orlando Distribution Center. Since 02/06/2019 there is no record of the package being scanned back into Orlando. Everyone I have talked to has told me that they are aware of the problem and it is being "worked" but nothing is being done and no one seems to care. One rep actually argued with me about the effectiveness of the distribution center. Customer Relations refuses to call me back and there is no way to contact Orlando. Without question, the USPS is the worst organization with which I have ever had the displeasure of being in contact! I write this comment merely to satisfy my own frustration because I have no doubt whatsoever that no one of any authority will bother to read it and the absolute incompetence of the USPS will continue unabated.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Hello, Dan. Thank you for your message. If your issue has not yet been resolved by the USPS Office of Consumer Affairs, please file a complaint with our Hotline. You can access the online complaint form at https://www.uspsoig.gov/form/file-online-complaint. This will allow us to look into the matter for you.

    Feb 13, 2019
  • anon

    When do you plan an office in the Vistancia neighborhood in Peoria Arizona?

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Customer service non existent. Impossible to reach live person, and if you do, they are condescending and indifferent. All contacts numbers are the same no matter what the complaint is. Just keep raising prices, but service does not improve. Basically, its a joke that's not funny. If any other company operated like USPS they wouldn't be in business for long.

    Feb 09, 2019
  • anon

    I called to request an arrow lock for a new cluster box. My best option on the phone tree was technical support. Plsase try that yourselves. Also, please try for a "13 minute" wait time. It's acually over one hour. Then try to send an email to any department that could help. Does anyone test your website internally????? Please, just try. Maybe you will also feel the frustration. And I wonder whether I will receive a reponse from this comment.

    Feb 08, 2019
  • anon

    Complaints about the Postal Service that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Well of course not because the USPS is home to many folk who just don't care. They can't be fired for doing a poor job. And the Customer Care Center rep could not care less. Priority Mail envelope travels around the greater Cincy are without being delivered. Don't work to hard folks.

    Feb 07, 2019
  • anon

    I mailed a package from Key West, Florida on 2/2/19 with 3 day Priority Mail service at a cost of $45.60. As of today 2/7/19 the package is still in Opelika, Florida at a distribution center. No one at US post office seems to care about this situation. I have called the 800 customer service number and talked with 3 different people (all women - 2 with foreign accents) and they all 3 seem as dis-interested, non-responsible, indifferent and uncaring agents of a powerful federal agency that can charge money for a service, not deliver that service, not tell you why the service has not been delivered, not give you any contact information for additional follow-up, and then tell you that they will not issue any refund or partial refund for that service and that you as a paying customer are out of luck with postage paid and package not received unless you wait 15 days and then fill out USPS form 1000 - a claim for USPS to look into where package is and why it was not delivered. All the while you as the paying customer are out the items in the package, the postage and the time and efforts put into all this. This is exactly why our country is in the shape we are in. This is why we hate each other so much and have so little faith in each other. The post office demands that we pay for a stamp to mail a letter or demand that we pay postage to mail a package and yet they can take that money and not deliver the package or letter or whatever and we the paying customer have no recourse. This is just not right but no one really seems to care. If you have any suggestions, please respond.

    Feb 07, 2019
  • anon

    I have been going to the Post Office located at 14310 SW 8TH Street, Miami Fl. 33184, for the last 27 years and every time that I go they always treat the customer, as KINGS. I am still so impress the way that they help all customers, that it's make this branch out of this world.. For the last years (many), Sylvia; Wayne and Nancy, has been helping and always go out of the way to be courteous and extremely professional. Today I had the pleasure of working with Alicia and Fernando, also and again they were amazing. I know that as consumer we love to complaint, but I emphasize how GREAT you feel at this branch.

    Feb 05, 2019
  • anon

    I called on 2/4/19 and felt like the rep that I talked to after waiting on to talk to an agent for over an hour, was rude and unprofessional. She basically told me that it’s nothing that can be done about a person keeping my package that was sent to a previous address in error. She cut me off and sounded like she didn’t really care. I’m a customer care rep myself and I’ve never treated a customer the way I was treated tonight. I didn’t expect the call to go the way it did when calling USPS, to basically oh well your package is gone.

    Feb 04, 2019
  • anon

    STILL CURRENTLY ON HOLD- GOING INTO 3 HOURS NOW. I waited 1hour 23 mins to get the first "rep" a lady who was chewing into the phone and making awful noises, I explained my story 3 times ( I did a change of address online in Dec 2018 and as of today 2/4/19 am not receiving mail) and she still couldn't understand. She asked for the confirmation number and when I gave it to her -SHE ASKS SO WHAT ARE YOU NOT GETTING MAIL?!! I told her I waited an hour and a half and ALREADY TOLD HER THAT WAS THE PROBLEM! SHE STARTS TO LAUGH-I SAY YOU WHAT'S FUNNY IS HOW RIDICULOUS THIS WHOLE THING THING. Her answer to me is to hang up the phone. You want to laugh at people when you can't deliver mail correctly or even understand when the customer tells you what the issue is 3 dam times? Raise your stamp prices- You will still lose money due to you "Customer Service" or lack of. That's Hilarious to ME.

    Feb 04, 2019
  • anon

    Today my mail carrier delivered a rubberbanded packet of 8-9 pieces of first class mail in my home mailbox. I did not recv any mail yesterday (1/31/19). The top item was for me and all other items were addressed for 2-3 other people on my street. There was already a post it note attached to it marked Addressee Unknown. I dropped packet, note and all in a postal box. I know the carriers work very hard under harsh condition and I empathize. I hope their burdens can be eased somehow. It would make all of our lives better. This is especially disappointing service when other people’s important info is involved! It seems to me (and maybe wrongly), the secret is that high quality work is its own reward.

    Feb 01, 2019
  • anon

    Terrible, terrrible, terrible! I cannot reach the technical support for a week. Left a request with a call back feature nevere got any respond. Sent email and they told me to contact the same number that I've been trying to call. Is it a joke?! They charged me twice for the service that i paid online. Need my money back. Feel frustrated.

    Feb 01, 2019
  • anon

    Hello, Diana. Thank you for your message. We recommend filing a complaint with our Hotline. You can access our hotline by clicking the "Contact Us" tab on the top and selecting "Hotline." This will allow us to look into the matter for you.

    Feb 01, 2019
  • anon

    Been on hold 56 minutes and counting.... I was offered a call back feature but cinsidering the previous 4 calls placed have not been returned I opted to remain on hold. Who has this kind of time to be on hold? How many Custome Care staff members do you have? Personally, I am not feeling very "cared for".

    Jan 18, 2019
  • anon

    Wait time is ridiculous. On hold over an hour all because usps has lost my package. It's amazing how well FedEx and ups does I actually get a human being to speak with in minutes. My Granddad was an inspector general and is probably in Heaven completely disappointed with the way things are now.

    Jan 15, 2019
  • anon

    Real cute. You go to the usps site and fill out their comment form to complain about lack of delivery, and after you have typed everything in, they ask you to review everything you have entered and then click submit. But there is no visible “Submit” button. And I am sure someone got a raise for “miraculously reducing emailed customer complaints “.

    Jan 15, 2019
  • anon

    Good suggestions but ALSO PROVIDE OPTION CUSTOMER CAN REFUSE DELIVERY OR RETURN TO SHIPPER INSTEAD OF HAVING PARCELS FORCED ON CUSTOMERS NO WAY TO PREVENT FRAUD DELIVERY OR UNWANTED DELIVERIES.

    Jan 15, 2019
  • anon

    This doesn't begin to address the issues. The customer service line is practically useless. It is "automated" to the point that one cannot ever get to an option that fits the situation. You have removed the human factor entirely. Service is poor, delivery is glacial, even when paying extra for things like certified and delivery receipts. There is no recourse if the tracking system says something like "in transit" for weeks at a time. It's disgraceful, really.

    Jan 15, 2019
  • anon

    I called my local post office and could not leave a message because the mailbox was full. Trying to navigate the automated system on the 800 Customer Care line that did not address my issue resulted in it hanging up on me when I asked it to connect me to an agent. I recalled the 800 Customer care number and was put on hold with the hold time being greater than one hour. This is NOT customer care. This is an insult.

    Jan 15, 2019
  • anon

    They never helped properly..I have been waiting in the call for 2hrs many times...and they said that they are transferring my call to internal customer service..but that will disconnect..waste customer service I real felling too sad

    Jan 11, 2019
  • anon

    The voice prompt system for tracking is more than pathetic. Today, I called in for tracking information and recited the tracking number. It read it back to me and missed the last three digits for some reason. I spoke fast, slow, medium speed, but very succinctly, And each time it either cut off from 1 to 4 of the last digits, and once for some strange reason it cut out a chunk of four digits right smack in the middle of it. Then it would apologize at length saying it had trouble “listening” to me and I would do it again and again and again. After about 15 tries, because I was persistent in seeing how ineffective the system was, it finally took. You can’t have a crappy system like this and expect to have high ratings in the customer service arena. That’s just a no brainer.

    Dec 22, 2018
  • anon

    The wait time for customers is frustrating. I’ve made breakfast, taken a shower, fed the dogs, blow dried my hair and am still on hold. Please consider a call back feature where customers leave their number for you to return at another time.

    Dec 17, 2018
  • anon

    Hello, Sarah. Thank you for your feedback. Please share your suggestion with the USPS Innovations Center at about.usps.com/transforming-business/innovations.htm

    Dec 17, 2018
  • anon

    Why burden the consumer further by asking Sarah to share her suggestion with USPS innovation?? For heaven's sake this call back technology has been used for several years now by many efficient and profitable companies, why does the OIG and USPS act as if they've never heard of it. By all means YOU should educate the innovation team instead of passing the buck back to the consumer.

    Dec 19, 2018
  • anon

    Indeed. They simply pass the buck. USPS hasn’t done ANYTHING to improve their customers’ experience. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Use a better service, they don’t care.

    Dec 19, 2018
  • anon

    Ever post office should have a phone to call waiting 1-2 hour to speak to Representative is completely stupid. i have called 10 plus times said call me back exc. never received a call back the most horrible customer service ever. if ever individual post office had a phone problem would be solved

    Dec 07, 2018
  • anon

    "No service is perfect"--that might be true but only the US Postal Service is making we wait ONE HOUR on the phone to speak to a live human being. I know of no other vendor, not UPS, not FEDEX, that is giving me that level of service. You wonder why citizens might support privatizing the post office. Honestly, I wish Amazon owned you because Amazon gives me superb service, so does FEDEX. You need to be customer focused. One hour wait times on the phone--RIDICULOUS. The only "vendor" that equals your service responsiveness is the DMV!!!!!

    Dec 06, 2018
  • anon

    I have been on hold for an hour and a half when the quote was 46 minutes to 1 hour 6 minutes. It is now past closing time and here I still sit. I have been trying to resolve a package that has been waiting for delivery scan since NOVEMBER 19!? I have since lost money on this package and cannot get a live person from the post office of delivery (despite MULTIPLE voicemails per day). No response from my mail inquiry or missing mail search. I actually have a job that I cannot have my phone available to call you all every minute of the day. This is ridiculous and poor business. I will be dealing with UPS from now on. Oh, by the way. This is the second act of blatant incompetence that I have had to waste MY time and money on to correct in the past 3 months. Someone needs to do their job or the house needs to be cleaned.

    Dec 06, 2018
  • anon

    Been on hold for 1hour 40mins and now it's 8:45pm est. I just want to know where my package is at as I just keep getting notifications that's it's on schedule for delivery and in route for next facility?? No location to tell me where it's at... Not sure if I should hang up? Do they still answer calls when someone been on hold after closing??? Come on...

    Dec 03, 2018
  • anon

    Your phone recordings do not cover all questions, I have tried for 1 week to get a live person on the phone. waiting 1 hour is absolutely ridiculous. Your customer service is terrible.

    Dec 03, 2018
  • anon

    Hire more staff to reduce the wait times. The wait times are absurd. As noted by others here the inability to reach the local post office to verify ANYTHING makes the situation even worse. And the local post office apparently does NOT respond to e-mail messages from headquarters or the call centers.

    Nov 30, 2018
  • anon

    My biggest issue with the CCC, is that they have no access to the post office when there are complex issues they cannot hook into the system and find out why when I scheduled redelivery for a certain day the package never even left the post office. Another issue I generally have is that when calling the post office directly no one picks up the phone on the first try you have to call multiple times before a person picks up. Also tracking is still iffy, I have for an example an international package that has been stuck West Palm since before the holiday. But when I check Japan Post they say it is still stuck in customs in NYC... so where exactly is my package? And something shipped via EMS should not take this long!

    Nov 27, 2018
  • anon

    I had to call customer service regarding an extremely urgent piece of mail that was lost en-route to a US government agency. I was on-hold for 40 minutes! While the service received was good, the wait times are unacceptable! I would gladly pay $0.75 for 1st class mail stamp, for example, in exchange for: no lines at the post office and more staff and reasonable wait times when calling in. If you take, roughly, 15B pieces of 1st class mail that are shipped annually by USPS and multiply by the proposed $0.25 stamp increase (why is USPS screwing around with these annual penny increases anyway), you get $3.75B of additional revenue that will pay for a lot of additional postal workers and customer service people. The shipments volume are only going to increase and a trip to local post office only shows you how overwhelmed the system is right now so investment into USPS infrastructure and headcount is a necessity and the benefits will be realized by every US resident.

    Nov 27, 2018
  • anon

    I have been to my local post office 5 times in the last 4 days to speak to the postmaster. I waited there for 1 hour and 15 minutes yesterday afternoon because I was told he was waiting on me to get there. He never came out of his office. I was told by one of his minions that he was on the phone talking to his boss about me. At 4 o’clock they closed the office and I left. I have heard he does this from other people that have dealt with this man. I am self employed and if I treated my customers like this I wouldn’t have any customers. This is the most unprofessional and ridiculous fiasco that I have ever dealt with. I have talked to 3 people in customer service and they call the man and talk to him but he won’t talk to me. I just don’t understand it. My original issue is nothing compared to this. I had no idea that the post office is so messed up. No wonder they have lost 60 BILLION dollars in the last 10 years.

    Nov 09, 2018
  • anon

    Why do I have to wait an hour to speak to a live person, this is ridiculous. ..I'm looking for a package that says it was delivered when I go to the post office they give me a number to call now I can't reach anyone, this is crazy...I don't have an hours worth of minutes on my phone, I don't want to hear excuses I need results, how is the wait time and hour, if you can't do the job find someone that can

    Oct 05, 2018
  • anon

    The managers haven't acted on your advise. The hold for me is 1 hour or more. Unacceptable! Just like the problems with the VA, the managers need to be fired and put someone who can do the job. Also, they don't provide call back service. If you weren't receiving government money support, I don't think you could survive as a totally independent agency/company. Please get your act together. I plan to write my congressman and get him/her involved.

    Sep 06, 2018
  • anon

    I have ordered quite a few things from an app called wish. Most of the stuff is shipped from over seas. I have a couple questions as my area was lucky enough to have one of the carriers in trouble for mail theft, and lost a bunch of mail in the past, do to this and was never compensated for our loss or anything. Well my question is when stuff is shipped from over seas why can you no longer track the packages once they arrive in our country? I try to track the packages with the tracking number I recieved and the system cant find it at all, which I think is very irresponsible. And then once the package get to our country is takes for ever to get here in Northeast Colorado, I have mail thats been sitting in our country or they arrived in the United States ont the 2nd of August and still isnt here it kind of ridiculous that it takes our postal service over a month at points to get mail delivered to us.. Why is this, it does not take that long to drive across the US.. And I guess I'm just really tired of sitting here wondering if my stuff is ever going to arrive at all not to mention that there is no way for me to even track it.. If you could please offer any information about these questions I would greatly appreciate it. Thank You Patricia Samora

    Sep 01, 2018
  • anon

    I want to thank the USPS of Hollyridge and Sneadsferry, NC for making my 16 years as a customer pleasing and always hospitable whenever I needed them. Especially on 9/01/18.

    Sep 01, 2018
  • anon

    I have called twice in the last two days. First time was on hold for 90 minutes..today I am at 93:38 and still no one has picked up the call. EXTREMELY UNHAPPY

    Aug 30, 2018
  • anon

    You need to throw out every overpriced antiquated system you currently have in place and replace them with $200 ecommerce software that is able to efficiently accept a package at drop off and give the customer a receipt , keep track of packages , make automated damage, or loss reports as soon as they are detected either at the distribution center or when the carrier attempts delivery and discoveres the crushed box and damages by uploading the damage report using their handheld scanners scanner and issue automated refunds accordingly to customers whenever the postal service fails to deliver on it's promise. and you also need to void and give automated refunds for unused shipping label . Not doing so , is just outright theft of the consumer . In conclusion you need to be like Amazon, and eBay . The tracking number is your main order number , all the consumer should be required to do is input the tracking number select a problem to solve with a click of the mouse without having to go through your current bureaucratic forms intended to discourage , and frustrate the claim process by asking redundant questions and information that you already have associated with a given tracking number . Better yet, be honest with your customers and automate the tracking and claims process , and when you see a problem reported by the carrier or USPS facility, you need to automatically rectify it without any customer input or claims forms . That would be the ideal USPS process and policy to implement best regards, John.

    Aug 28, 2018
  • anon

    August 22, 2018, 11:24 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility TUCSON AZ DISTRIBUTION CENTER To My package arrived at Las Angeles distribution center on the 24. It has been there for over a days. The package was with live fishes I don’t know how you think animals can live such time in this situation . I was told I would get my package on the 18th. That's in three days and it is still in Las Angeles distribution center

    Aug 28, 2018
  • anon

    I think this is a great path to take. I am in sales and have customers that are reluctant to switch to the USPS for shipping packages because of our Customer Service performance and wait time on hold. This new CCC venture would be nice to see.

    Aug 22, 2018

Contributors

  • Christine Lyons, Tom Coleman, and Amanda Stafford contributed to this report.

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