My niece Tina sat in her car, with tears welling up and trickling down her cheeks, over a piece of mail that brought more heartache than she expected. On Veterans Day, with her husband away and expected to be gone for the holidays, she had gathered the strength to send off a box filled with love and reminders of home.
Surprisingly when she sent the package the encounter at the post office was awkward. A sharp sting of rudeness came from the employee who callously said, “I hate those people” when she heard where the package was intended. Despite the hurtful words, Tina tried to stay pleasant, grateful that at least the package was on its way.
Then came Veterans Day, and fate seemed intent on compounding her pain. The box, meant for her husband stationed at the base, returned to her without reason or explanation. It had a hole punched in the side and seemed roughly handled. The mistreatment of something so dear to her, intended to bring a piece of home to a beloved deployed husband and father, shattered her.
Is this experience common in Utah for USPS service?
Well, it’s hard to know. Here are 3 things that might be causing our post service to be less empathetic.
1) Performance Scores:
The latest results showed its composite customer experience score drop from 72.40% in the 2020 fiscal year to 68.15% in the fiscal year 2021. There have been efforts to improve since as their stated goal is to improve that by around 8 points. Perhaps that pressure is getting to them.
The Postal Service also weathered a Utah strike earlier in the spring. I have read that even when resolved a strike will often leave raw nerves in the wake. It makes sense negotiations fell short and drastic measures were taken.
3) Help wanted? No, Help Needed:
To add to the question; as with most businesses in Utah, the USPS is shorthanded. There are the ubiquitous “help wanted” signs in most branches. The strain on a company at its best is hard to bear when it doesn't have the people to fulfill its business promises.
I’m not sure what brought the attitude. The demand for workers does seem to push some less experienced into higher demanding jobs. Tina's post office worker might not have known that her perspective on the military was hurtful. I was in a branch locally the other day and while the customers were a little demanding the treatment they got was equally defensive.
So, maybe the lesson we have to learn for the near future is to put on your tougher second skin before sending a package or trying another vendor. It is sad when we can’t help each other out, but with a little more patience from both sides of the counter maybe we can survive the Christmas package rush.