Claims to fame

A Lean Six Sigma team has helped USPS streamline the way it handles claims for missing and damaged mailpieces.

The Postal Service has improved the way it processes customer claims by using a new, cost-effective electronic system.

In 2011, the domestic claims office processed more than 165,000 consumer claims for missing and damaged mailpieces. Forty percent arrived by mail.

Each claim was manually processed and adjudicated, then sent to an outside contractor for data entry and stored in off-site facilities.

Most claims took 60-90 days to process. Adjudicators often worked as much as 2,600 hours overtime to handle the workload.

In 2013, the Postal Service tapped a Lean Six Sigma team in St. Louis to streamline the process.

Led by Accounting Service Center Supervisor Deborah Clary, Master Black Belt Dan Sorenson and Financial Accounting Specialist Tammie Merkel, the team developed technology to centralize the process, eliminate offsite document storage and reduce overtime.

Today, manual claims take 2-3 business days to process, while online claims take 1-2 days. Ninety-five percent are filed online, saving the Postal Service $2.1 million annually.

“These improvements demonstrate how Lean Six Sigma can help USPS boost efficiency,” said Jewelyn Harrington, manager of the Office of Continuous Improvement.

The project is a finalist for a technology award that will be presented during OpEx Week, an international event that showcases business innovations.