Public inquiries and feedback to the Postal Service increasingly are made through social media but the agency does not “effectively respond” to them, an IG report has said.

The agency has a social media strategy that includes monitoring customers’ postings to its social media platforms, which collectively received more than 390,000 posts in 2016, it said. Research into leading practices for responding to customers over social media indicates that they expect responses within an hour, seven days a week, it added.

However, an audit found that USPS did not consistently respond to inquiries, that it closed nearly a quarter of actionable items as not actionable, and that it automatically deleted some posts after 48 hours, even if they had not been reviewed by an agent. That happened with 35 percent over the entire year and 68 percent on December 23, 2016, one of the busiest mailing days of the year.

“When the Postal Service did respond, it did not do so in a timely manner — taking 16 hours on average to respond to customers’ initial posts. Only 43 percent of responses occurred within the Postal Service’s 6 hour target,” it said.

Leading organizations are integrating customer interactions across various channels such as voice, email, text, internet, mobile, and social media to provide a consistent customer experience, the report added. However, it said, the USPS social media operations center operates separately from the customer care program that handles most phone and website customer inquiries and the two do not coordinate.

“Management attributed the lack of responsiveness to the program still being in an informal pilot phase and related shortcomings in resources and staff. Nevertheless, the current approach and performance conflict with leading industry practices and consumer expectations. In addition, the Postal Service’s continued inability to effectively respond to social media inquiries could create frustrating experiences for customers, increase customer complaints and customer care costs, and ultimately harm the Postal Service’s brand and revenue,” it said.