A survey of “Internet-connected” Americans has hinted that consumer trust in the Postal Service providing digital services is “limited” – other than for parcel tracking.
The study carried out by Massachusetts-based consultancy InfoTrends and commissioned by the USPS Inspector General, polled 5,000 American Internet users aged 18 and above.
The results excluded the views of 20% of Americans who are not Internet-connected, potentially skewing results toward urban-based and higher income groups.
Many of the results, particularly regarding digital communications, depended significantly on the respondents’ age.
The InfoTrends survey still found healthy support for the Postal Service’s traditional role delivering the physical mail, and the concept of the universal service, although a sizable 77% of those surveyed incorrectly believe that USPS is funded by the taxpayer, rather than postal service income.
With the Postal Service currently working on its role in the digital communications sphere, particularly with an eye to secure digital communications, the Inspector General’s report signaled a note of caution, suggesting that consumer trust in USPS providing most digital services was “limited”.
“Concerns about the overall security of digital communications may be hindering interest in digital services from the Postal Service beyond simply a trust issue,” said the report.
However, the report noted that more research was needed to determine if the distrust was in digital communications generally, or the Postal Service’s capabilities providing them.
The survey found that 84% of those surveyed were uncomfortable providing personal information online, and 53.6% were uncomfortable sending sensitive communications electronically.
More than one in 10 respondents said they would not trust USPS to provide any digital services.
As USPS faces up to the digital age, the Inspector General’s report said that its research suggested that the American public would prefer a gradual change in the Postal Service, though this was not directly vetted within the study and would require further research.
The majority in the study preferred receiving physical mail compared to digital messages, though there was some interest shown in receiving certain types of mail electronically, such as bills and advertising mail.
Generally younger generations were more comfortable receiving electronic communications.
Survey respondents generally opposed service cuts that would delay mail delivery, reduce delivery to three days per week or reduce post office hours. A 38% slice of those polled opposed eliminating Saturday delivery, with 74% against a switch to three days of delivery per week.
The survey showed the American public is understanding about the need for under-used post offices to close to reduce costs – as long as it isn’t their own local post offices closing. Providing post office services through alternative locations like grocery stores will not affect the amount of service use by those surveyed.
Respondents backed the option of post offices selling a wider range of products and services, including licensing applications and renewals.
And, the poll revealed high interest in more self-service options being available at the post office, with 38.6% “very interested” and 36.3% “somewhat interested”.
Source: Post&Parcel/USPS OIG