Successful companies tell their customers what level of service they can expect. They establish standards and they measure the results. Posts owe their customers the same level of business professionalism.

Postal Sign in Africa

All Good Businesses do it

Successful companies create strong brands, customer loyalty and differentiation from competitors by:

  • Defining their mission with sufficient detail;
  • Telling customers what level of service they can expect;
  • Establishing standards of excellence that must be met by all departments in the organization and
  • Measuring and publishing performance results.

What is a Universal Service Offering (USO)

All Posts, including those in developing countries, should do the same. A Universal Service Offering (USO) defines the Post’s and the country’s obligation or promise to its citizens.

A country’s Postal Act generally defines the basic USO to ensure that all citizens:

  • Are able to ACCESS certain basic postal services (usually letters of up to 2 kg and parcels up to 10 kg)
  • At an AFFORDABLE COST (same postage rates, irrespective of their geographical or other characteristics)
  • With GUARANTEED DELIVERY of mail on a regular and specified basis

The postal operator is usually given a monopoly (reserved areas of mail) over the mail in order to generate revenues in profitable areas to offset the cost of providing service in unprofitable areas.

However, that basic USO found in a Postal Act is usually not enough to create strong brands, customer loyalty and differentiation from competitors.

Each Post can decide for itself what promise it is prepared to make to its citizens.

Some countries have introduced liberalization legislation that effectively removes the monopoly and forces the Post to compete openly. While other countries have balanced that legislation with a “USO Fund” that all mail operators, other than the Post, must contribute to in order to pay for the USO.

A USO can Cover Many Aspects

  1. Governance, Ownership and Regulations
  2. Compensation or subsidization
  3. Areas of mail reserved for the post
  4. Domestic mail delivery standards (Quality of Service)
  5. Regular measurement and reporting of delivery and access standards
  6. Core postal products & services that people can expect at all post offices
  7. Other services (government, financial, etc.) that people can expect
  8. Retail strategies or investments in the network
  9. People’s access to post offices which can cover such things as:
    • Minimum number of post offices
    • Opening hours of the post offices
    • 1 post office for a community of a certain size
    • Postal density (number of people per post office)
    • Percentage of population having access
    • Maximum distance between a customer and a post office
    • Number of square km per per post office
    • Special provision for remote locations
    • Consultation process for post office closure, etc.

 Start with the Investigative and Review Process

Before defining a USO, the Post should review its current state and viability, the market, its strengths and weaknesses, the competition, the growth opportunities, where it would like to be in 5 years, the gap, etc. Please read our Strategy Process page for more information.

 Develop your own USO (Suggested Outline)

1 – Define Your Access Goal

  • Goal of at least one post office for every _____ people in urban areas (current postal density is _______).
  • Postal point-of-sale technology will be installed in corporate hub post offices.
  • EMS, parcels and stamps will be available at a minimum ____ additional, agent locations and through business contracts with call for pickup.
  • By the year ____, the Post Office will open ____ franchises and bring the average Postal Density (population per post office) from ______ to _____ and the average square km. per post office from _______ to ____. Post offices will be opened particularly in the most populated areas where the economy is active and people are most likely to use postal services.

2 – Define Your Delivery Goal

  • Mail delivery in the capital city of _______ will be 5 days per week.
  • Mail delivery from the capital city to regional cities is every week. As mail volumes increase, mail dispatches will move to several times per week.
  • EMS and parcels will be delivered as received. The Post Office will collect custom dues (if currently customers pick up parcels at processing plant after paying customs).
  • Postal boxes will be relocated to post offices requiring them (currently the number of boxes is ______).

3 – Define Your Collection Goal

  • Ordinary letters will continue to be mailed at all post office counters. The Post Office will collect mail weekly at businesses and hotels in the capital city.
  • EMS will be collected at all post offices as required and at all businesses that have a commercial contract and who call for pick-up.

4 – Define Your Effort to Develop New Products and Services

  • We will establish the full cost for each product.
  • The rates will be adjusted to reflect our costs yet be affordable to the average citizen. The UPU  will assist us in this exercise.
  • High-value stamps will be approved to increase customer satisfaction (if currently a customer has to use many stamps of small denomination on a letter destined for an international location).
  • We will introduce new products and services particular to the needs of people in under-developed regions. We will focus on products of Commerce, Social Development and Financial Inclusion.

5 – Define Your Operations Performance Goals

  • The Post Office will be near self-sustainable by the year ____.
  • Revenue and performance-to-standards targets will be set for each year from _____ to _____.
  • Performance will be independently evaluated by the The Institute of Statistics.
  • Progress review meetings will be held every 3 months with the UPU.

6 – Ensure that Your Government will use the Post Office for all of its Mailings

  • A directive will be issued to enforce that all government departments must use the services of the Post Office for the transmission of all letters, documents, parcels and express mail within the country and abroad.
  • To that effect, one or more franchises can be set up to serve the Ministries.

7 – The Government will Create a Universal Service Offering Fund (USOF)

  • This fund will be financed through an annual licence for all mail operators who are not subject to the USO. The proceeds of the tax will be remitted to the Ministry responsible for the Post Office in order to offset the annual subsidy to the Post Office.
  • The annual licence will be required for all mail operators and will include, but not limited to, mail operators such as FedEx, DHL and UPS.

8 – Define How You will Finance the Post Office and Your New USO

Your next step is to define your new products and services, determine their growth potential for each year over 5 years based on your expanded network of post offices.

  • The Post Office proposes to offer additional diversified products and services that will benefit underdeveloped regions. This will also help the Post Office to reduce the fixed costs per unit, increase the efficiency and create additional revenue to finance its universal service obligation.
  • In 5 years, ____ , the Post Office has a target of increasing sales from ______ to ______  and reducing the government subsidy to _______ .
  • In year 6, the government subsidy should fall to _______ .

An Example of a Potential USO

A potential, more-detailed postal USO could have 8 aspects:

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