USPS Second Guessing Decision To Change Mystery Shopper Program

After USPS implemented changes to the unpopular Mystery Shopper Program, some postmasters and managers are second-guessing the decision. PR note: Three clerks in my office were disciplined for not asking all the questions under the old format. Although it is agreed that clerks cannot be disciplined for failing a Mystery Shopper Survey, Bay-Valley District management claimed “internal mystery shopper surveys” are not included in the agreement. So hopefully changes in this program will remain the same.

After years of APWU complaints about the program, in January the USPS vice president of Post Office Operations issued instructions to Area vice presidents: Retail Associates (RAs) would no longer be required to ask a scripted set of questions when waiting on customers. Instead, they would be permitted to “customize their questions to best address customer needs.”

The questions, which were designed to increase sales of higher-priced services, were a source of frustration to window clerks and the public because RAs were required to ask every customer mailing a package a litany of inquiries – even customers the RAs knew well and whose needs they understood.

In a Dec. 27, 2010, letter to the APWU , the USPS said the decision was based on “confidence in RAs product knowledge.”

Despite the change in policy, retail clerks should continue to promote USPS products and services. Why? Simply put, the USPS needs the revenue.

Recently, priority mail sales have declined, while sales of less expensive parcel post services have increased. The latest sales figures are troubling to management, and some postmasters and managers want to return to the old script.

We hope Vice President of Post Office Operations stands his ground and continues to permit RAs to use their judgment about asking the questions. In the meantime, our clerks will have to continue to demonstrate that they are true professionals.

USPS Mystery Shopper Program Changes

13 thoughts on “USPS Second Guessing Decision To Change Mystery Shopper Program

  1. I do believe internal shops are not aloud either..At least not legally…Most customers are real tire of the robotic BS required which tends to undermine the sales abilities of a good Retail ckerk…

  2. How much does the program cost the USPS? Price Waterhouse sure bought a brand new building recently……….

  3. Would private companies tolerate employees not doing their jobs properly? Would McDonalds allow employees to not sell its’ products? While I have never agreed 100% with the program, our employees are the only ones I know of that cannot be corrected for not doing what they are paid well to do.

  4. Wow refreshing to hear of other offices just like mine. We also have lines out the door. No Supervisor or pm in retail. occassional visits to issue stamps PDI’ s an so forth. its all about getting carriers out not only by their leaving times but sometimes hour before? This is telling upper yahoos that we dont need so many carriers. Same thing with clerks. They all lie about what is really needed and are just in it for themselves. Meanwhile they hide mail in unsuspecting casual employees who know they will be fired if its leaked. Yes PM’s only required to show up and depart. They sure do have lots of meetings daily. This Delivery confirmation has everyone goin too. Letters of warnings flying out to everyone. They dont care if its been misthrown, or arrived late and carrier is already out on the street. How do they know if employees are trying to make it not work for PM. Why would the clerks and carriers care? ( I have no respect for the PM myself but I would not miss a scan to purposely get the PM in trouble) I do know others that would. Postmasters should be the ones checking to make sure all mail is out of the building. They are the ones in Charge. . . but shouldnt you have to earn that right? They dont do anything but receive messages from higher up they have a meeting with their supervisors. They scream bitch moan degrade, threaten, bully the supervisors, then the supervisors turn it on us. NOT A damn thing gets accomplished except we end up feeling like crap because we get hit with insults and threats. Then we still have to see our customers sometimes its hard getting out of that mood. Thanks to our customers at least once a day I hear Thanks for your help, or you are so helpful, Most customers are happy when they come in and if they dont have to wait in line for more then 20 minutes they leave happy too. Sad thing we cant count on our union to grieve something that is a little difficult to prove. They wont grieve something that wont be worked out in step 2. They dont want to pay the arbitrator. Thanks I could go on forever.

  5. I noticed a BIG big drop in Priority when the new dimensional pricing took effect, and not so sure the flat rate boxes aren’t losing us a ton of money either.
    As far as the mystery shopper I think it would be beneficial if it were used to test wait time and courtesy.
    And I agree the Ivory Tower needs to be monitoring the mini dictatorships across the US.
    Our PM is pretty good about keeping the window staffed but she doesn’t have the energy to answer the phone that is ringing and located 10″ away. Line out the door and phone ringing off the hook most of the day. Oh and that is when she is there about 20 hours of the 40 hours she is claiming she works every week. Yeah, most PM do their own “timecards” in the small offices, just use my ID and create a password. Hopefully they will start requiring them to use a timeclock and moniter manual changes done in TACS.

  6. Until the window services become part of mgmt’s pay for performance scores they will continue to ignor the needs of the customer. I continually hear mgmt tell us that they only want one or two clerks on the window. This is at the BUSIEST, highest revenue office in our city! The customers always say “I HATE going to that office”. HATE IT! “The lines are always too long and there is only 2 clerks on the window”. What kind of business would tolerate hearing that about their establishment? They wouldn’t be in business for long. SOMEONE NEEDS TO COME DOWN FROM THE IVORY TOWERS AND SEE WHAT THE HELL IS REALLY GOING ON IN RETAIL!!! Who gives a damn about the mystery shopper when mgmt doesn’t give a damn about the customer??? Isn’t it supposed to be about them after all?

  7. As a Supervisor(and our window clerks agree!) I think taking the script out was one of the few sane things this company has done in the past. And going back to the script would be the description of INSANITY. If we truly have lost Priority due to the change, and that’s a big if, then MAYBE tweak the questions to bring back the requirement for Priority to be offered each time, but do not bring back the script. They could also get creative and have some kind of incentive to up Priority sales. The other comments about staffing are absolutely right on point. The new shopper is better, but upping the WTIL to 40 points and then not staffing is the one place the new shopper went wrong. I have to fight with my postmaster and the other supervisor every day to get trained window clerks on the window when the line is out the door. Go Figure???

  8. “After USPS implemented changes to the unpopular Mystery Shopper Program, some postmasters and managers are second-guessing the decision.”

    As usual…management doesn’t think before acting! It’s all about them controlling the actual workers!!

    How about staffing the windows properly? Have all the windows open all the time so the “Wait Time in Line” is reduced?

    Postmasters and managers need to learn how to staff according to ALL operational needs. Our postmaster concentrates only on getting the carriers their parcels on time so he has changed the start time of two of our clerks to come in one hour earlier…..that leaves the window short of these two clerks in the afternoon! But what does he care – he comes in early and leaves early – so the window be damned!!! Robbing Peter to pay Paul LOL…….

    Man up, postmasters and managers – either do your job properly or GET OUT!!!

  9. I think if they return to the scripted questions we will be better off. The WOS times that we get for doing our job are already insufficient. Imagine how much worse it will be when they start averaging the parcel sales without all the questions with the rest of the sales. Our WOS times go down and management thinks we need less SSAs. Regardless of the outcome, I think all SSAs should continue with the scripted questions to save jobs.

  10. priority mail sales have declined, while sales of less expensive parcel post services have increased

    Well it ain’t Christmas Time now and with high unemployment and the ones that are working making less money… Think that might be a reason.. if they think priority mail is off now just wait till they go to five day delivery

  11. The main problem is having to stand in line 8-10 deep waiting 10 minutes with only 2 clerks on window. Customers disgruntled and have no positive respones to any questions or suggestions. Need to close nearby small offices and move window clerks where help is needed.

  12. I think the retail clerks should add, thank you for your business and come back and see us.

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