Idealliance Report Finds ‘Chasm’ Between Industry and the U.S. Postal Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — July 11, 2016 — Idealliance reports that a serious communications gap exists between the U.S. Postal Service and its customers and supply chain partners, according to results of its Annual USPS Customer Systems and Services Survey of industry views about the U.S. Postal Service, released today. The primary objective of the Survey was to provide feedback on USPS customer-facing systems and services and help the USPS focus the priorities for its information technology programs; however, the key and unintended result from the Survey was that over 50% of the respondents underlined the need to “improve the communications and partnership with the USPS.”

In a significant survey finding, 51% of respondents said they sought help from the USPS to improve the USPS-Industry relationship, communications and partnership, and health of the mail supply chain, but only half of respondents considered the USPS “a quality business partner.” Moreover, 62% of respondents disagreed with the statement that “the USPS has a good understanding of how their systems are used on a daily basis by business mailers.”

Another 58% disagreed that “the USPS does an outstanding job of communicating functionality of changes and enhancements to existing USPS program systems.” Most respondents also disagreed with statements about the USPS “understanding industry business requirements,” the stability of USPS computer systems, and the Postal Service’s alignment of “documentation with actual USPS system behavior.”

“We suspect that Postal Service leadership is as dissatisfied as the industry in the results,” says David J. Steinhardt, Idealliance president and CEO. “Idealliance is committed to working closely with the USPS to close the communication gaps and to drive a greater level of productive collaboration. Idealliance is preparing proposals for consideration to better engage in constructive dialog and support the competitiveness of the total mail supply chain.”

Survey respondents rated 15 USPS customer-facing systems and services on data report quality and functionality, and ranked 21 systems and services to pinpoint focus for development in the coming year. The three ranked in order of priority are: 1) Seamless Acceptance, 2) PostalOne! File Submission and Postage Calculation and Payment, and 3) Full Service – Micro-Strategy Reports.

Conducted in late 2015 under the direction of Idealliance’s Postal Operations and Technologies Council (POTC), the survey’s objectives were to provide an industry assessment of USPS performance and priorities, to offer the USPS suggestions for its focus and priorities, and to form the baseline for future annual surveys.

Members of six industry associations participated: American Catalog Mailers Association, Association for Mail Electronic Enhancement, Epicomm, Idealliance, the National Association of Presort Mailers, and the Association for Postal Commerce. One hundred and fifty companies (with 163 individuals) responded to the survey, from mail owners and print and mail service providers to software providers and logistics and transportation services, capturing a broad, diverse group of mail supply chain participants to candidly and confidentially assess the performance and priorities of the USPS.

In analyzing the survey results, Idealliance believes that a serious communications gap exists between the Postal Service and its industry partners. “These results are compelling proof that a virtual chasm exists between the industry and the USPS, and that bridging that gulf is essential to moving forward in a positive manner,” notes Phil Thompson, Idealliance POTC co-chair.

POTC Co-Chair Rose Flanagan adds, “Communication is key to any successful relationship. This industry survey shows that work is needed on how the Postal Service and the industry relate, and the industry and USPS must engage differently to partner and meet the challenge of the competitive communications and commerce marketplace.”