IG Finds Far More Public Interaction than USPS Measures

The Postal Service’s traditional method of measuring its interactions with the public, a count of transactions, far understates the number of visits to postal facilities, an IG report has said.

The 877 million transactions in fiscal 2016 is only about a third of the number of individual “foot traffic” visits, a report said, based on surveys, sampling at more than 30 sites and modeling techniques.

“In reality, most visits do not include a transaction. Instead, customers may check a PO Box, pick up shipping materials, or deposit a letter in the slot. These actions are key elements of the Postal Service’s value chain, and omitting them dramatically underestimates customers’ use of post offices,” it said.

Better tracking of foot traffic could help USPS decide on need for physical space at its facilities as well as “to make more informed decisions about its retail network, improve sales and customer service, and better assess potential opportunities for retail partnerships.”

The IG said, for example, that Millennials, who are widely assumed to have little use for the Postal Service, shouldn’t be written off as customers. A fifth rarely if ever go into a post office but another fifth are among the most frequent visitors, going to one at least once a week. Compared to older customers they are less likely to conduct a counter transaction but more likely to use services such as kiosks, the report said.