hree years ago, I was going through technical training to become an administration career airman in the United States Air Force, two months later I got my first set of orders to Germany, this is when my life took a big change, I found out that I was going to be working at a Post Office, I had no idea what this would intel. Of all things that could happen, I ended up at the biggest post office in all the DoD (Department of Defense.
) From the beginning it became very clear that there was problems, and a lot of these problems lead to issues with the customers, who were the most important thing, because our duty was to provide these customers with their mail in the most convenient way.
For this final assignment, I want to focus on marketing research, and how through my experience in the Air Force, we researched ways to improve a specific office that I worked in.
Through this course we learned about primary research and secondary research and how they were both important. I think that through the study that my section did showed not only us executing primary research but also secondary research, because we did go to other facilities and see how those facilities did things, and then used those findings in our own workplace. Just to refresh the readers mind, primary research is research done on your own, developing your own findings and secondary research is research done by someone else, and you can review their findings. Before we started tested any of our ideas, we made sure to collect ideas, and verify through secondary research that we were using the best method.
Our base consisted of three different post offices, of these post offices we took two people from each and developed a team that would brainstorm and come up with the best ideas to help make these problems improve. Of the three post offices, Southside, Northside and Kapaun, Northside was the biggest and had the most problems so we focused on, how to improve Northside and then if needed we could implement our findings into the other two post offices. How we did this was by first identifying the issues that we saw and from there we came up with solutions to solve these problems or at least make them better. This is when we implemented our own primary research, and reviewing secondary research, as briefly mentioned above, we went to visit other post offices and saw what they were doing to see how that could help us with our post office.
The biggest issues that we discovered were Customer wait time and low manning, customers would complain that they were waiting long wait times, but we did not have the manning to keep the windows fully stocked at all times, because we needed as many people as possible to unload the truck that came every afternoon. If we took manning from the mail truck then it would take even longer to unload the mail truck meaning, employees would get stuck after their work time, so we had to figure out a way to service not only the customers but also to service our employees.
The first thing that we started was doing the mail truck in the morning instead of the afternoon, to provide back story, typically the mail truck is done at 5:00 pm, this is high traffic time because this is when everyone is getting off work, so the customer lines began to get backed up and wait times increase, the normal window hours were 10:00 am through 6:00 pm. We changed the unload hour from 5:00 pm to 05:00 am, what this did was give us time to unload the truck without customers being there, this gave us five hours to focus specifically on the mail truck, so rather than trying to unload the mail truck while servicing customers, we could unload the mail truck early before we opened, not only did this give back time for the mail truck, but we also had more people to put on the windows during the high traffic hours.
Another step to improve this facility was making alternate customer wait lines. We had gotten feedback from customers complaining that it was unfair for them to have to wait longer due to the customer in front of them having multiple packages, so we implemented an express line which was for people who were only picking up one or two packages, the other line was for people with more than five packages because they knew that the wait would be longer, due to the employee gathering their packages, and it gave the people with not as many packages the chance to get their packages faster. This helped fix the customer wait time issues, because customers with multiple packages understood they would have to wait a little bit longer, but also gave back to the customers who only had one-two packages.
The post office being discussed had two sides where packages were held and handed out to customers, which we referred to as light and dark side, it went based off of mail box number to make it more convenient to the customer. Each side had one window and we would put two people on each window so nobody was ever by themselves, and also had help if needed. To provide more service to the customer we opened up an additional window on each side of our building, this allowed more customers to get serviced during these high traffic hours. Now we had four people on each side rather than two, and this helped to cut down the wait time that customers had been complaining about before.
The post office was looking for a way to get quick feedback from their customers, this would be how we collected data vastly. We invested in machines that had a green smiling face through a red frowning face, this was so that customer did not have to stress with a questionnaire or waste any extra time, and it benefited us because we got on the spot feedback, the only downfall was not knowing why these customers made the choice that they made. For those customers who did not mind supplying an extra minute or two, we had feedback forms at every window, and this was for them to write their experience. To ensure this benefited our workers as well, one a month our boss would go through the pile of positive feedback and randomly pull a form, if a member had been recognized for their service, they were rewarded with a day off. The negative feedback was addressed, and gave us a problem area to focus on next.
We also realized that the hours of the post office were a lot for the employees, so we made sure to focus on not only the customers, but our people as well. When looking over the schedule we were able to split the post office into three shifts, which would be a day shift, a mid shift and then a night shift. This cut the shifts from twelve hours all the way to eight hours. This cut down our hours, which meant it gave time back to our people, so now we had better attitudes in the work place from the workers.
The thing to remember here is that, yes customers supply the business, but nothing gets done without a good set of team members. Our main goal was to have a well-functioning facility, the way we did this was through our research with feedback from customers and making sure to take care of our employees. Through feedback, and research we were able to accomplish our facilities goal of better customer service.
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