Friday, December 07, 2012

Usability of post office delivery cards.



Usability of post office delivery cards.

I received a package through the US Postal Service that was sent Certified Mail.  It was delivered while I was at work (as I imagine happens a lot), so when I got home there was a postcard in my mailbox with an “Attempted Delivery” notice.  It seemed clear enough.  It gave me a few options:
  • They would redeliver it, again requiring me to be home (for security).
  • They would redeliver it without requiring me to be home (more convenience, less security)
  • I could pick up the package at the Post Office (the most security but the least convenience).

So why am I writing about this on a Human Factors blog? Simple, I signed the card, left it in my mailbox, and . . . .  nothing.  What day are they supposed to deliver it? 

I could imagine that it would take a day or two because the Post Office doesn’t know what my choice would be ahead of time.  They could have kept the package at the PO in case I came to pick it up, but then not been prepared for options 1 or 2.  But then they can’t deliver it.  Alternatively, they could have sent it with the carrier to cover either options 1 or 2 and not been prepared for option 3. 

Better service would have allowed me to log onto the USPS web site in the evening, input the package tracking number, and let them know in advance what to do with it.  Then I would have it just one day later.  But they don’t have that.

So it should have come the next day, right?  But for some reason, it did not.  Did they return it to sender?  That would be crazy to do so quickly, but you never know (it has happened to me in the past).  Is it being held at the Post Office despite the fact that I signed the card?  That would suck because I returned the card and so I have no tracking number.  Can I pick it up at the PO just with my ID?  No way to know. 

And on the original postcard it didn’t even say who the package was from, so I couldn’t call them to see if they could help.  Did they have a tracking number as part of their receipt?  Probably.  But who was it?  And since I returned the card, I may not have been able to check that for the sender contact info anyway. 

This is not a hard UX problem.  The card could have more information.  They process could be simpler.  There could be a web solution for everything.  UPS and Fedex seem to have these problems solved.  I hate to say it, but no wonder the USPS is going out of business.  They wouldn’t be losing such market share if they could just get the basics down.

1 comment:

Anselm Knights said...

I could be wrong but didn't the USPS a few years back make a push in their engineering department to work out some of these problems? I would think that since the department was made up of mostly industrial engineers, this would have been a top priority for them.