Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Post Office in need of Design Thinking...

The news recently showed a local union boycotting Staples because the box store has started offering postal services in select locations. Typically I will root for the working person. I support the ideal of a living wage and putting food on the table for middle-class families. But this time, I may have to side with Staples.

My local post office is not a place I want to go regularly, nor do I enjoy my time when I'm there. The hours are inconvenient, the lines can be long, and some very "interesting" characters helping me out from time to time. I'm often reminded that the post office is a government organization. It looks, smells and acts like it. My local post office is drab, smelly, boring, and unpleasant during the holidays. That's not true for all post offices. In a nearby city I get to wait in line and enjoy historic architecture, or admire collectable stamps while I stand in line. But they are not close by, so I rarely get to participate in that experience.

I like the idea of going to a box store to mail packages, get stamps, and do other things. I'd be willing to pick up packages there that are held for me, and fill out those silly forms for holding my mail. It is very appealing to me. I'm more likely to shop for other stuff as well. Why not pick up stamps at the same time?

And why has the US Post Office been so slow in adopting and updating its services? I know they've tried some things over the years. Such as stamps-by-mail, the ability to make purchases online, and I really enjoy their self-service booths. I can weigh my package, pay for the right postage and post it without any help. The machine is easy to use, so I don't mind multiple upsell messages. I get free boxes for overnight or priority packages. What's not to like?

Who is examining the post office's holistic customer's experience? Who has reviewed at the average consumer experience and applied design thinking to update services and find innovative ways to do more with less? I'd like a post office in my local grocery store. It has very convenient hours, I'm there often, would happily pick up packages & buy stamps. Heck, I'll even tolerate standing in line for a long time when it's busy. Oh, wait... I do that already.

Maybe someone is already thinking about all this. It's hard to tell, because I'm still unsatisfied with my retail post office experience. So I'll keep hoping, and keep my fingers crossed for Staples.

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