USPS inspector general seeks tweaks to customer service surveys

USPS heard back from more than 1.7 million customers last year, but its inspector general wants to know if it's getting enough constructive feedback.

The U.S. Postal Service heard back from more than 1.7 million customers last year, but is that feedback — both positive and negative — giving the agency enough constructive criticism to improve its services?

A new USPS Office of Inspector General report has recommended some tweaks to the way the agency solicits feedback from both the public and its private-sector business partners.

Those evaluations, which USPS collects through four customer satisfaction surveys, gets added into the Postal Service’s Customer Insights (CI) Index, a “multi-channel barometer of the customer’s satisfaction with the agency,” and factors into the pay-for-performance bonuses for postal executives and administrative workers.

The CI Index also gets reported to Congress and the Postal Regulatory Commission, both of which have oversight over USPS, and are in the middle of processes that could improve the Postal Service’s long-term financial outlook.

“Minor enhancements to the surveys, such as allowing customers to leave contact information for follow-up and employing hot alerts to immediately notify managers of negative responses, could help the Postal Service act quickly on feedback and improve the customer experience,” the OIG report said.

In a report released in April, the PRC found that USPS failed to meet six of seven performance standards for on-time delivery. In May, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the agency to investigate how USPS holds workers accountable to meeting delivery standards.

According to the USPS OIG’s review of the CI Index data, the Postal Service received its most negative feedback on the delivery of mail and packages to the public. Only 55 percent of customers reported they were “very satisfied” with the recent delivery of their mail and packages, while 17 percent rated their delivery experience anywhere from “somewhat dissatisfied ” to “very dissatisfied.”

USPS received its most positive customer service feedback from its private-sector business service network, which includes major retailers and mailing industry companies. More than 87 percent of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with the level of service they’ve received from USPS, while only 2.2 percent rated their service negatively.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed a postal reform bill in February that has received broad bipartisan support, as well as the support of postal unions and the mailing industry. Meanwhile, the PRC is expected to conclude its review of USPS’ rate-setting system, and appears likely to give the agency more flexibility to raise postal stamp prices.

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