Service Measurement System Details

Single-Piece First-Class Mail. Performance of Single-Piece First-Class Mail has long been the most visible signal of service proficiency for both consumers and commercial customers. Single-Piece First-Class Mail, generally used by consumers and small businesses, is entered into the mailstream in small quantities at Post Offices or collection boxes. All elements of postal operations influence the desired outcome of timely, reliable delivery. Address management programs, processing systems, transportation and distribution procedures, and many other factors affect results. Additional factors include distance, workload variability, and weather.

On-time performance for Single-Piece First-Class Mail is measured by combining data for letters and flats from the External First-Class Mail Measurement System (EXFC) and Single-Piece First-Class Mail parcel performance for the first time in 2010. Parcel performance is measured using Delivery Confirmation scans that have both “start-the-clock” and “stop-the-clock” scans. All performance scores compare actual transit times against the service standard for the respective category — Overnight, 2-Day, or 3- to 5-Days. Most Single-Piece First-Class Mail (99.8%) has a service standard of between 1 and 3 days.

Since the 1980s, External First-Class Mail (EXFC) has been a rigorous sampling system performed by an external entity that records transit times between deposit and delivery. Single-Piece First-Class Mail International is not included in the national goal; however, it is measured and reported separately on and used as a unit goal.

The consistent improvement of Single-Piece First-Class Mail performance over time is the result of sustained focus at all levels of postal management, in conjunction with multiple activities and initiatives designed to standardize best practices, improve efficiency, and eliminate the root causes of delay and process variability. These efforts, described throughout the Comprehensive Statement, include (but are not limited to) ongoing refinements in automation and address recognition; elimination of unnecessary handling and process steps; improvements in visibility and expansion of Intelligent Mail; and standard use of computerized workforce planning models.

Single-Piece First-Class Mail service standards factor in distance and transportation availability, the amount of processing required, and risk. Explanations for the service standards and other details on service measurement may be found at All Single-Piece First-Class Mail categories require processing at an origin postal facility. Mail with 2-Day or 3–5-Day service standards require more processing and more extensive transportation, with associated risks.

Other Mailing Services. Additional categories of mailing services have been measured and reported using pilot or interim systems. These categories also have service standards and goals. They receive similar attention to continuous improvement and are also impacted by similar forces, such as weather.

For a goal to be included on the list of a limited number of corporate goals, it would have to go through the Annual Planning Process mentioned earlier. It must rely on stable systems where processes are in control and are statistically significant at the levels being measured (e.g., at the district level). As more reliable diagnostic data becomes available, it refines its measurement processes and may expand the services that are measured. New measurement systems for other mailing services are summarized below. These systems are in different stages of maturity and are not included in the corporate objectives for 2011. Service standards and on-time performance for mailing services are available at

Presort First-Class Mail and Standard Mail. Measurement for commercial letters and flats use similar processes, which determine performance using tracking from IMb scans with valid start- and stop-the-clock scans, in conjunction with external data from the EXFC system. In Quarter 4, the measurement moved from using a limited number of pilot Full-Service IMb mailers to using all IMb Full-Service mailings with valid start- and stop-the-clock scans, totaling over 1.5 billion pieces per week. This is measuring a census of mail with an IMb instead of being a sampling system like EXFC. Intelligent Mail includes many aspects such as electronic documentation (details in the Comprehensive Statement ). Automation equipment passively reads the barcodes and sends the information back to a centralized database. As more mail stays on automation, such as FSS, there will be more robust information that will provide statistically reliable results throughout the country. As the system matures, it will help improve performance measurement by extending coverage to more mail categories and mail volume and by providing more detail for analysis and action.

Periodicals. Current tracking combines data from two external, independently-operated systems used by the publishing industry. Service is measured using mailer-reported entry times to start the clock and external reporter delivery dates. Since this process is not representative of all publications and is not statistically valid, a system that uses broad participation in IMb will replace it with a more robust system similar to commercial First-Class Mail and Standard Mail.

Package Services. Service is measured using transit time from deposit at a Post Office to delivery for parcels with Delivery Confirmation. The system measures service to and from virtually all 3-Digit ZIP Code areas. Systems are not yet fully in place to measure the on-time performance for Presort Package Services and at this point available data includes too little of the overall population to be a representative measure.

Special Services. There are a number of special services and performance is measured using a variety of systems. For all of these services, the measured result is compared with the respective service standard to determine performance. Results are included on

Customer Experience. The Postal Service maintains one of the nation’s largest survey-based customer experience measurement programs, supplemented by mystery shopper visits. The survey examines a wide range of postal interactions with consumers, small businesses, and large commercial mailers. These include sending and receiving mail, contacts with service employees, and other issues important to customers. In addition, independent observers (mystery shoppers) visit Post Offices and use postal help-lines to assess performance. All this information is provided to managers to improve performance, which is one of the reasons the American Customer Satisfaction Index has listed postal services as the most improved of all services measured since 1994.