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Think Tank
Joe Schick, Director of Postal Affairs

Joe Schick
Director of Postal Affairs


Will the Exigent Rate Increase Be Permanent?  The USPS Delivers Disappointing News  Congress: No More Kicking the Can Down the Road  Showing Our Support for Postal Reform more >

'Customer-Centric' USPS

New law brings new focus in 2008 and beyond

A Message From Joe Schick, Quad/Graphics, Director of Postal Affairs

As a result of the 2006 signing of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), the Postal Service is on the road to change … major change. That will be reflected not only in compliance with the new law and the flexibility it provides, but more importantly in how the USPS changes the culture of a very operations-oriented, regimented, governmental agency that now must focus on the customer as much, if not more, than its own operational needs.

Because of the new requirements contained within the PAEA, the USPS has updated its " Strategic Transformation Plan 2006-2010" to reflect the changes in postal oversight and regulations. The updated version of the strategic plan takes into consideration the need to move to a more customer-centric business model as noted in the following statement by the Postmaster General:

"The updated plan credits postal employees with helping achieve record service performance and eight consecutive years of productivity growth. Employee-related strategies in the plan are designed to further transition the Postal Service to a more customer-focused culture, and help prepare the workforce to respond quickly to changing customer needs and emerging technologies."

As anyone who has been involved with changing corporate cultures knows, that is not an easy task, especially when it involves more than 700,000 people in thousands of locations around the country.
I believe it is THE biggest obstacle for the USPS to overcome, but it has to happen in order for it to succeed.

The Postmaster General and his leadership team along with postal employees around the country have done a good job of better managing costs over the last six years. Unfortunately, as the rate increases of 2007 showed, it was still not enough to prevent rate shock and a major hit to our businesses. From now on, Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based increases will reduce the chances of rate shock. However, since you can’t just keep cutting your way to prosperity, the USPS knows that it must also continue to increase volumes and grow revenues in conjunction with its cost-cutting measures. At a time when the economy is slowing, paper prices are increasing, and more businesses are moving to other forms of media to get their messages delivered, it is imperative that the USPS and its employees become better at providing customer service.

For the USPS, first and foremost that means having a better understanding of its customers’ business as well as the business of companies, like Quad/Graphics, that prepare and distribute the mail. As [Quad/Graphics Founder] Harry Quadracci used to say, "Measure the skin temperature of your clients every day." That means providing service from start (when mailpieces and mailing plans are being designed) to finish (delivery to a consumer’s mailbox) and everything in between. It means responding to customers’ problems and concerns in a timely manner because you know the impact it will have on their business. This is where I see a real opportunity for the USPS. At Quad/Graphics, we pride ourselves on the quality of service provided to our customers and we could be a very good resource in the education and training of postal employees. In fact, we’ll be discussing those opportunities with the USPS.

Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight, but if the mailing industry can see movement in that direction through actions rather than words, we’ll become believers. Remember … "Performance is the only thing that counts!"

Have questions or comments? Contact Joe Schick

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