Change for the better

USPS has improved the way it helps telephone callers who request change-of-address services, thanks to a team that came together from several postal departments.

Until about two years ago, the organization’s customer care centers received approximately 400,000 calls annually from individuals with questions or concerns regarding their change-of-address requests.

“For security reasons, there are limits to what our care center agents can do. They can’t file a change of address on a customer’s behalf. That’s something the customer has to do online or at a Post Office,” said Juliette Nelson, a business alliances specialist at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC.

Nelson previously worked at a customer care center in Wichita, KS, while participating in the Postal Service’s Management Foundations Program, which helps recent college graduates begin careers with the organization.

During her stint at the center, she identified some sticking points with change-of-address requests and possible solutions and shared them with her colleagues, including Salina Ferrow, enterprise customer care executive manager, who oversees the centers.

Nelson and her colleagues helped Joseph Craig, customer contact tools and apps manager, and the Interactive Voice Response team implement a solution: giving customers the option to receive a text message with a link to moversguide.usps.com, where they can manage their change-of-address requests.

Since the text message option was introduced, the number of change-of-address customer calls that are transferred to a customer care center agent has dropped by 21 percent. Other types of calls have also dropped significantly.

“This is a great example of an employee who was able to take what she learned in the Management Foundations Program and work cross-functionally to apply it to our change-of-address program,” said William L. Bentley, business alliances manager at USPS headquarters.

Nelson said she is glad she was able to work with colleagues from several departments to help improve a key USPS service.

“It’s all about working together to meet our customers’ needs,” she said.

High visibility

The Postal Service is reminding employees to follow established mail flow and scanning procedures to ensure visibility into the mailstream.

Visibility refers to the ability of business and residential customers to “see” their mail and packages moving through the USPS network. This occurs primarily through scanning; each time a mailpiece or package is scanned, the information is fed to a variety of postal websites and applications that allow customers to track their deliveries, each step of the way.

This year, the Postal Service is handling several important mailings, including census questionnaires, stimulus checks and election ballots. By following the organization’s standard work instructions, employees can help move this mail as quickly, accurately and visibly as possible.

When letters and flats are kept in the proper flow, scans are captured automatically by mechanized equipment. Using mobile devices to scan container placards and transportation is equally important for visibility.

Mailstream visibility is also essential to the Postal Service’s future.

Two of the organization’s newest platforms — Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility — both rely on accurate, timely scans.

Informed Delivery provides consumers with a digital preview of their incoming mail. The feature has more than 25 million users nationwide.

Informed Visibility helps business customers use USPS data to better manage their marketing campaigns.

For example, businesses can use the Informed Visibility Mail Tracking & Reporting application to track letter and flat mail moving through the Postal Service network and receive near-real-time updates. Around the time their mailing is delivered, the business can then use social media, emails or text messages to engage their customers, ensuring the mailing has the maximum possible impact.

The PostalPro website has more information on Informed Visibility, while the Informed Delivery Blue and LiteBlue pages have more information on this feature.

Time to grow

The Postal Service will celebrate the natural beauty of botanical parks, country estates and other flowering areas when it releases its American Gardens stamps Wednesday, May 13.

The pane of 20 Forever stamps will feature 10 photographs taken at gardens across the nation between 1996 and 2014. Each garden depicted on the stamps is open to the public.

The gardens shown are Biltmore Estate Gardens (North Carolina), Brooklyn Botanic Garden (New York), Chicago Botanic Garden, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Dumbarton Oaks Garden (Washington, DC), Huntington Botanical Gardens (California), Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Florida), Norfolk Botanical Garden (Virginia), Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Ohio) and Winterthur Garden (Delaware).

Allen Rokach took the photographs, while Ethel Kessler served as art director and designer.

The stamps will be available at Post Offices and usps.com.

Last month, the Postal Service canceled the dedication ceremony for the stamps due to social distancing guidance.