Postal Service merges customer care centers

The Postal Service expects to save up to $137 million over a decade with an integrated customer care management network that it plans to complete by the end of next year, a USPS project manager said yesterday.

The new system consolidates seven customer contact centers into two and provides a toll-free, one-stop number for all postal information. It is part of a cost reduction effort mandated by the deputy postmaster general in April 2001, Chris Taddei, acting manager for the Contact Management Center, said at a Technology Excellence in Government seminar yesterday in Washington. The event was sponsored in part by Government Computer News and Washington Technology.

Convergys Corp. of Cincinnati will automate the customer relationship management (CRM) portion of USPS' online and phone transactions with customers. The contract, awarded in January, has a potential value of $700 million over 10 years.

The Contact Center Network Solution project combines software from Convergys and subcontractors to supply interactive voice response, advanced speech recognition, computer and telephone network integration, knowledge management, customer service and point-of-service evaluation.

Originally, the seven contact centers required 17 vendor management contracts with USPS. Consolidating them into two, in Denver and Orem, Utah, is expected to be completed by October. The further integration of customer service into USPS' Web site, www.usps.com, will continue into next year.

'You can't practice CRM if the channels themselves aren't integrated,' Taddei said. 'The contact center can be at the heart of this. But you need to cross channels.'

Taddei said that USPS relied on a looser statement of objectives, rather than a more defined statement of work, in outlining its contact center management plan to Convergys, which gave the contractor flexibility.

'We were looking for industry expertise,' Taddei said. 'So we said, 'Let them use it.''



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