I will call this post one in a series of many I’ve written about ‘Improving the systems’ so we can live in a happier space.
Okay, I have written mostly positive posts generally about the States as I love it here but I can’t hold back from writing about a system here that is just terrible for many reasons. When the post is in the mail, it is fine, it get’s there and everyone is happy however, what the customers and the public have to endure every time they have to walk into one of the postal offices and send a parcel or line up for stamps, is absolutely appalling. On a positive note, the buildings that they are in are beautiful, and you feel like you are walking into the white house instead of a business.
The building is Grand
The door way
I’ve gone to four different postal offices and each experience has been exactly the same. Some postal employees are more friendlier than others but I’m not focusing on that. I’m focusing on the system.
The Self Service Machines
I think these have been set up to get rid of window tellers but it’s the postal service and it’s rare that anyway just goes there with one thing and to try and work out the machines can be quite foreign to some so they either need some tutorials for customers running on a flat screen above the windows so that while you are standing there, you may actually learn how to use their self serve machines. The City Hall Post office has three of these machines. The other ones I have gone too on Canal St and Union Square, I could only see one and the one on Canal St had malfunctioned for a customer when I was there.
The Self Service Machine
Inside the building
For the majority of the customers that don’t prefer to use the machines, they basically only display priority cardboard mail envelopes and some boxes to choose from on a display and then there are a few benches you can fill out your 15 different forms to choose from on. Everything else you need, you have to line up for. The worst part of it is, if you need to buy a box parcel and you need to wrap it, they ask you if you want it taped and obviously most people do so it stays together. So they give you a tape dispenser that you must purchase and then take home with you. So I bought a tape dispenser and the next fifth time I went to the post office last minute, I couldn’t carry my tape dispenser with me and so I had to buy another one again. Can you believe it? If that isn’t screwing over customers and turning them off, then I don’t know what is. I mean seriously UPS, can you not have a tape dispenser attached to your bench so that customers can use as part of the service, or another point, maybe tape it for them as part of your job, as they do back in Sydney. It can’t be that hard.
This is the only envelope/box selection in the whole space
Here is the bench with forms. The bench space is actually adequate when there are enough pens that work on them
You basically walk in, line up to get to a window, and there is generally a line of ten or more people. When you get there, you have to tell them what parcels you need and then you have to pay for the parcels seperately. Then you have to take the parcels away, fill them out and then go back to the front of the line to weigh the parcels, pay for them and send them. Twice waiting, two receipts, two payment processes = waste of time and double the work, which leads to less productivity and unhappy customers.
The Windows – this was a quiet moment as two new windows had opened up at the time
Now, from a business perspective, why on earth would you make things so difficult for customers and the experience so unpleasant that they basically don’t want to come back. Why would you not find a more productive business approach that saves the employee from doing double the work, the registers from utilising more paper by issuing two receipts and the customers more time so they don’t get fired when they got to their jobs late.
I mean seriously. Our post offices in Australia have something to offer over the system here and the main business advisor for the company in the states should seriously take a look at their business plans and try to improve it. I am sure the machines were a strategy they have tried but they don’t seem to be working as well and the lines are still so long. Some of the post offices in Australia are definitely better run than others and some are busier than others but you generally know what times to go there so it’s less of a pain. Maybe the point of this all is that it is a thriving service that we need so employ enough staff to run it during the peak periods so that you make it more of a pleasant experience. You may actually help with the unemployment rates.
A local customer had to wait 15 minutes for a book of stamps. I spent one hour in the post office yesterday to send four parcels at the Canal St Office. The line was ridiculous, they had two windows working, as the other window was taken up by a woman who was whinging about the inadequacy of the postal officers and the system. The ladies however were actually nice ladies however, I have never walked into a post office (and I have been in them at least 12 times so far) where any of the customers have been smiling or happy to be there. It is not a good thing.
1. Make all the packages available to customers so that they can select and fill them all out before they approach the windows.
2. The lady at some of the offices that talks to the people in the line can be employed to watch the packages and envelopes that are displayed if they are worried about people walking out with them and not paying.
3. Make sure the staff at the windows are friendly and enjoy their job. Some are exceptional.
4. Have scanners on each item and a buzzer at the door so that if anyone walks out and doesn’t pay for anything, then they will buzz and then no need to employ someone standing in the centre. They will be more productive opening another window.
5. Create one line, purely for stamps and letters so that people with simple purchases don’t have to wait up for long periods of time. If that line is free, then a parcel can go there.
6. Play some music. At least if people have to stand there for so long, they can at least be entertained.
7. Place a free to use tape dispenser on the benches for customers to use and not be charged for and not have to carry it with them.
8. Supply enough pens on the benches for customers to use that are working.
9. Give the staff something to smile about so they are happy to sit there and process parcels all day. It mustn’t be very stimulating I’m sure so maybe a little music could help them feel more relaxed and smily or even some more pay may do the trick.
Some simple suggestions, but ones that could increase the desire for people to send more parcels and use the service more frequently.
To end on a positive note, once you are outside the post office, if you look to the right, you can see the New World Trade Centre being built and it is so tall.
The New World Trade Centre Building with all the cranes