The United States Postal Service (USPS) is asking Congress to close almost 4,000 branches and lay off 120,00 employees. Business, you see, is down. The Postmaster General has pointed to technology as a prime reason, to wit, email has replaced the mailing of letters and bills. Also they’ve gotten into egregiously bad labor contracts with the Postal Worker’s Union. And they are legally barred from just raising postal charges. So what’s an organization to do?

When it comes to parcel delivery, the USPS doesn’t fare any better in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. As of the most recent wave, rankings for the three major carriers looked like this:

  1. UPS
  2. FedEx
  3. USPS

The USPS has been at the bottom of the list for as long as we’ve been conducting these studies, and that’s nearly 2 decades! Part of the problem has been the USPS hasn’t been able to meet customer expectations for the category. Perhaps its just because they don’t recognize what drives loyalty and profitability in their category. Finding yourself in that position is a big problem in any category, but particularly so when you’ve got competitors who are paying attention to what customers really want and are trying to delight them.

UPS, for example, just launched a new delivery service that gives customers more control as Internet shopping has boosted associated home deliveries.

According to UPS, they are trying to make that yellow, missed-delivery notice “a fossil of the past,” and have introduced UPS Choice. That lets customers register for free alert via email, text, or phone a day before a first delivery attempt. Oh, and you can sign for a package electronically. For $5 more you can re-route or re-schedule a package or set a 2-hour confirmed delivery window for yourself. It turns out that people are willing to pay for delight, but the government doesn’t seem to realize that.

Lee Iacocca once noted, “The government can’t run anything. The only things they run are the post office and the railroads, and both of them are bankrupt.” Or soon will be.