U.S. Postal Service:

New Focus on Improving Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction

GGD-96-30: Published: Dec 20, 1995. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) efforts to measure, report and improve customer satisfaction, focusing on: (1) the extent to which USPS distributes customer satisfaction data for use internally and by Congress; (2) whether USPS can improve the distribution of such data; (3) how USPS is using customer satisfaction and other data to improve customer service; and (4) additional steps USPS could take to improve customer satisfaction.

GAO found that: (1) USPS widely distributes residential customer satisfaction data for internal use to improve customer service, but has reduced the amount of performance data it provides to Congress; (2) USPS does not distribute business customer satisfaction data internally or externally because USPS fears compromising its position in an increasingly competitive market; (3) adequate distribution of business customer data could help USPS assess and improve business customer service; (4) although USPS has initiated numerous innovative efforts to improve customer service and satisfaction since 1990, residential customer satisfaction has remained relatively constant; (5) USPS has not developed a well-coordinated overall national strategy for improving customer service or focused on areas causing the most customer dissatisfaction; and (6) USPS has not always made the best use of customer satisfaction and other performance data to evaluate its initiatives, but it is studying ways to improve the use of all of its performance measures to improve customer satisfaction.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Using CustomerPerfect! as a framework, the Postal Service is developing components of its information systems that will continually monitor the fields' implementation of various service improvement initiatives and how well the results are measuring up against agreed-upon goals. For example, one of the customers' primary requirements is timely delivery. In order to meet that requirement, the Postal Service has set a national target of 90 percent for overnight delivery for local First-Class mail. This is the first step in a process of continuous improvement. The Postal Service is developing a series of indicators at critical points in the mail stream that will give it a systematic approach for measuring its business processes on a national basis.

    Recommendation: As part of the development of the USPS national service improvement strategy, and to achieve the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction, the Postmaster General should implement cost-effective procedures for headquarters units to use in monitoring and reporting the implementation and results of national service improvement initiatives to ensure that they are implemented as intended.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Variable pay based on organizational indicators has been implemented for all exempt non-bargaining unit employees.

    Recommendation: As part of the development of the USPS national service improvement strategy, and to achieve the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction, the Postmaster General should determine, in cooperation with unions and management associations, the feasibility of incorporating available measures of mail delivery service, along with CSI and other performance data, into employee pay incentive plans to encourage a stronger commitment to prompt and reliable mail delivery and, as appropriate, use these performance data in incentive plans.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Both CSI and BCSI Customer satisfaction results are integrated in CustomerPerfect. Results from both systems will be used to indicate whether the Postal Service has been successful in meeting its customers' expectations.

    Recommendation: As part of the development of the USPS national service improvement strategy, and to achieve the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction, the Postmaster General should incorporate Business Customer Satisfaction Index results in USPS initiatives and ongoing efforts to improve its performance and service quality, using safeguards as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service Corporate Information System provides information on the precision levels for each question and changes in results from period to period reflect statistically significant differences. The system provides ranges around the estimates at the three-digit Zip Code level.

    Recommendation: To improve the dissemination and potential use of CSI data, the Postmaster General should provide more information in the detailed internal CSI reports provided by the contractor, including the sampling errors for CSI questions and explanations to users on the level of precision and usefulness of customer data on certain questions.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 25, 1996, USPS provided summary data for the most recent quarter for CSI, the Business CSI, the External First-Class Measurement System, and the international letter-class mail performance system to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    Recommendation: To improve the dissemination and potential use of CSI data, the Postmaster General should consult with appropriate congressional committees to determine what analyses of business and residential CSI data and other available performance data would be useful to them and, using appropriate safeguards, provide those data in periodic reports to and other communications with Congress for its use.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USPS has made CSI data, including Business CSI Data available on the corporate information system and the executive information system for use by all appropriate management levels.

    Recommendation: To improve the dissemination and potential use of Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) data, the Postmaster General should, as part of the Service's ongoing performance data study, establish a plan, safeguards, and timetable for distributing business customer satisfaction results to all appropriate management levels of USPS for use in improving customer service.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USPS has instituted several forums for identifying and sharing best practices throughout the field. Last year, the managers from the largest metropolitan areas met a number of times to share success stories and strategies for improving, among other things, mail delivery timeliness in urban areas. By sharing best practices, the managers have sought to design new customer-focused processes that enable them to meet their performance goals.

    Recommendation: As part of the development of the USPS national service improvement strategy, and to achieve the greatest improvement in customer satisfaction, the Postmaster General should implement cost-effective procedures for: (1) regularly recognizing at the national level the best practices and successes of field offices and employees in improving customer satisfaction; and (2) sharing information on such efforts across the organization.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

 

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