Better customer service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2004

System means better quality for postal customers

By George Wacha

Many people use the postal service on a daily basis, depending on the quality of the U.S. Mail for their regular needs. It is still considered the lifeline of most businesses that involve shipping and receiving, from packages of any size to the smallest post card, and also the way many people still keep in touch with each other. But now a new system recently installed at the Luverne Post Office will cause even more quality assurance, and an easier experience for every patron that walks up to the counter in the Post Office.

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&uot;We have recently completed the installation of a new frontline cash register system, called the POS, an acronym standing for Point of Sale,&uot; said Marla Brewer, Luverne postmaster. &uot;This system makes reordering much easier. Whereas we were once just at our ‘best guess,’ now we have a way to look right now and tell exactly how many books of stamps have been sold today, and so can someone in Washington, D.C.&uot;

Brewer said the system could now be used on a national level to track purchasing trends with regard to services and types of stamps.

&uot;For example, we just came out with a new &uot;Art of Disney&uot; stamp series – this system allows us to tell how many were sold on the first day – or any day for that matter, and track trends of sales for automatic reordering,&uot; she said. &uot;Every piece of accountable mail, for example Express Mail(r), is scanned on acceptance, with a destination zip code. Now Post Office Headquarters personnel can monitor the movement of an article of accountable mail in an effort to improve customer service.&uot;

Brewer said now the office receives reports telling when an item has missed scanning on delivery.

&uot;Customers pay extra for the scanning,&uot; she said. &uot;We have established goals we must meet to ensure quality control and customer satisfaction.&uot;

Another aspect of the system that customers will definitely find appealing is the new display on the counter, which is a part of the system.

&uot;Now there is a ‘shopping screen’ that the customer can view as the transaction is being made, which allows them to see available options, their costs, and the customer actually has a realistic view of what to expect,&uot; Brewer said. &uot;The system has already proven its worth nationally. Elba – one of the first Post Offices in this state to have the system – has been online with the POS for four years.&uot;

Brewer said the changeover took a considerable amount of time to prepare for, but was actually in place in a matter of hours.

&uot;We scheduled the changeover over a period of 120 days,&uot; she said. &uot;It was actually installed in four hours, including all of the verification that was necessary before it could go online with the national system.&uot;

Another item of preparation included training.

&uot;Each clerk was sent to the Montgomery Postal Education Development Center (PEDC) for two days training on the system, before we could have it in place,&uot; Brewer said.

But not all Offices will have the POS on their counters.

&uot;The system is designed for large to medium sized post offices like Luverne, based on mail volume and service area,&uot; she said.

The Luverne Post Office has two clerks plus the postmaster on the system, full-time, plus occasional relief personnel.

The Luverne Post Office has four rural routes, totaling six carriers, three carriers on two city routes, and two clerks and one postmaster.

For answers to any questions about the post office, call the Postmaster at 335-5393, or toll-free at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-277-8777).