Royal Mail: change will take time and more must be done to transform our 500-year-old business

Royal Mail: change will take time and more must be done to transform our 500-year-old business

Royal Mail has issued its Universal Service Obligation (USO) Quality of Service report for First and Second Class mail for Q3 2023-24.

Over the quarter, from 25 September to 3 December 2023, Royal Mail delivered 90.2% of Second Class mail within three working days. For First Class mail, 70.1% arrived within one working day and 94.4% within three days of posting.

Considerable action has been taken to improve quality of service, including new sickness and attendance policies which have played a significant role in reducing sick absence, the launch of a Quality Control Centre and the recruitment of more postmen and women.

The third quarter traditionally experiences a lower performance compared to other periods of the year. This is, in part, due to an increase in volume in the network driven by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year this increase was particularly significant as retailers extended their sales. Quality was also affected by high levels of vacancies and sick absence.

The most recent performance data from the start of 2024 is much stronger, with a near 10 point improvement in service levels for First Class mail, measured against today’s quality of service data for Q3. This reflects the positive impact of numerous initiatives to improve deliveries.

This follows Royal Mail’s best performing Christmas period in four years, with more than 99% of items[1] posted before the last recommended posting dates arriving by Christmas Eve.

Alistair Cochrane, Chief Operating Officer, said: “Improving the reliability of our service is our top priority. We are investing heavily in our network and working hard to deliver the service our customers deserve.

“We have seen improvements in quality levels since the end of the Q3 reporting period. However, change will take time and more must be done to transform our 500-year-old business into a modern, sustainable service that accurately reflects the needs of today’s postal users.

“This requires structural changes which are already underway but vitally, it requires urgent reform to the Universal Service Obligation which in its current form is not sustainable.”

[1] Over 99% of first and second class items posted by the last recommended posting dates were delivered in time for Christmas. As reported by Spectos, an independent specialist appointed to measure Royal Mail’s Quality of Service performance.

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