May 29, 2013

Postal Service: Is mail service getting better?

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Continuing on a plan to effectively manage growth in the oil patch, U.S. Postal Service Dakotas Manager Roy Reynolds is inviting Watford City Post Office customers to attend a second listening session in Watford City.
The first listening session occurred roughly six months ago, when Reynolds, prompted by Sen. John Hoeven’s office and reports of extremely poor customer service, came to address the Post Office’s mismanagement of the growth that had been occurring in the Watford City area.
The night of that Town Hall Meeting turned out to be an eye-opener for Reynolds.
“The night we held the first listening session in Watford City, there were two or three employees working at the office until 10 p.m.,” states Reynolds, of an occurrence that had become the new-norm for Watford City postal employees at that time.
Reynolds states that the reports from the customers were also shocking.
“The biggest complaints we heard from customers were about long wait times in line for window service and extremely poor first-class mail service,” states Reynolds.
Since Reynolds’ last Town Hall Meeting with the public, he states that the improvements in Watford City are not where he would like them to be, but they are coming along.
“The manager there has been working on getting things organized in the Watford City office,” states Reynolds.
An effort that, according to Reynolds, has allowed for better stacking and sorting of packages.
In addition, Reynolds states that more career and non-career employees have been added. And more of those employees have been trained in the retail side of the postal business, which means that more employees can work in the window as well as in the back.
“We are working on increasing staffing. But it is still not where we want it to be,” states Reynolds. “However, according to my knowledge, things are better.”
On top of improving the quality of service offered by the Watford City Post Office, Reynolds states he has been working with local businesses to set up some Village Post Offices around the area, specifically with Coborn’s to include a Contract Postal Unit in their soon-to-open grocery store.
“The Economart in Williston has a Contract Postal Unit,” states Reynolds. “There are slight differences between Village Post Offices and Contract Postal Units in the services they offer. But the main goal of both is to offer more customer options in the Watford City area.”
According to Reynolds, customers not requiring post office box service and package pick-up can send packages and purchase many of the same retail items from the Village Post Offices and Contract Postal Units.
“This will give customers more options and help distribute the need so it is not all being met by one location,” states Reynolds.
Though all this has been done, Reynolds wants to make sure things are improving and hear the customer’s point of view.
This is where this Friday’s listening session comes in.
“We feel we’ve made some progress in addressing the region’s rapid growth,” states Reynolds. “But this is a challenging situation and I want to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.”
Reynolds states that he is eight hours away from Watford City in the District Office which makes it hard to manage what is going on, let alone keep tabs on the growth.
“The community will really be the one to tell me how things have been going,” states Reynolds.
Reynolds will be in Watford City on Friday, May 31, at 5 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building Gymnasium.
He plans to explain the changes that have been made to date, as well as listen to concerns and answer customer questions.
“I hope to hear what the community has to say on how we are doing,” states Reynolds. “Whether people feel they are getting their mail on time, or having to wait in line for too long, are we providing that service?”