Postal Service's 2013 Performance Review Is In

USPS came close to hitting service and financial goals, in the PRC's estimation, but fell short in customer experience.

USPS: Room for improvement
USPS: Room for improvement

The U.S. Postal Service won partial praise for its 2013 performance in on-time delivery and financial results, but retreated a step in customer experience (CX), according to the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) Annual Performance Review released today.

USPS actually exceeded its 2013 goals for on-time delivery of Presort First-Class mail in all three categories rated: overnight, two day, and three to five day. All three types of mail registered on-time rates of 95% or better. But it stumbled in Single-Piece First Class mail, especially in three- to five-day mail, which fell short of the mark by more than three percentage points, with an on-time rate of 91.6%.

This is the first year the three presort categories were included by the Postal Service among its performance indicators. It didn't measure Standard Mail, but has proposed that a “Standard Composite” category be measured in 2014, and has set for it an on-time delivery goal of 91%.

USPS didn't fare as well with customers as it did last year. In a survey, fewer customers said they were either very or mostly satisfied with the Postal Service as said so last year. The dip in confidence was slight—from 79% to 78.4%--and it appears that the Postal Service might improve its score if it avoided personal contact with customers. Recent experiences with a USPS contact were rated satisfactory by only 51% of SMBs and 62% of residential customers.

It should be noted that the views of large business customers, while recorded, are not counted toward the CX grade because of differing methodology.

The Postal Service overachieved on its balance sheet by posting a net loss of $1 billion—a billion dollars less than its $2 billion target. But it underachieved in DPH, or Deliveries Per Hour (delivery points  X  number of delivery days  ÷  total workhours  =  DHP), hitting an average of 41.6 versus a target of 42.7. USPS said it fell short of its goal due to a higher than anticipated mail volume, less centralization of business deliveries, and the hiring and training of high numbers of non-career employees. But USPS won't be given much slack in getting its act together. A higher goal of 43.3 DPH has been set for next year.

The PRC suggests that the Postal Service reduce cycle time, eliminate waste, and conduct monthly area service reviews to improve its on-time delivery scores. As for improving customer experience, the prescription is for weekly employee updates on customer issues, diagnostic reports, and a review of complaint handling processes.

The Annual Performance Review is mandated by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. In past years the report has been included in the PRC's Annual Compliance Determination. Beginning this year the Commission decided to issue the report separately to provide a more in-depth analysis of the Postal Service performance.

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