Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The USPS Innovation Center

Agency: Draftfcb
Client: U.S. Postal Service


The U.S. Postal Service’s expedited shipping services are less expensive than their competition, yet research showed that small business owners considered the U.S.P.S. outdated, and their shrinking share of voice wasn’t allowing their message to be heard. The Postal Service decided to reinvent their services to small businesses starting first in Schaumburg, Illinois. Then based on the test results, they would fine tune the program and roll it out nationwide.

They created a USPS Innovation Center — a fully operating Post Office — with an open floor plan and freestanding checkout stations where retail associates could get out from behind the counter and provide personalized service, a business lounge with WiFi capability, a meeting room, pack and ship stations, self-service postage machines and automated kiosks. Digital signage greeted, engaged and entertained customers, and provided on-screen tips and tutorials. Day-parting was employed to target messages based on key small-business traffic patterns.

Promotional videos built internal momentum for the program and convinced high profile brands, including OfficeMax, to partner in the launch by selling office supplies. Hints of a future coffee bar were given in the application.
Everything was kept confidential until the store was complete. Then prior to opening, information was slowly leaked to the media, with front window signage peaking people’s interests. PR, direct mail and invitations were sent to the mayor and business and community leaders to build buzz for the opening. Television, radio, newspapers and online all came to life when the Innovation Center opened.

USPS results showed that 20% of customers utilize the business lounge daily in an amount of time equal to that which is typically spent lounging at Starbucks. Within six months, the Innovation Center became the No. 1 self-service Post Office in the U.S. Automated Postal Center usage is up 700% in the pilot location compared to the national Post Office average. The learnings are now being analyzed so they can be utilized in other Post Offices.