Customers play Post Office waiting game

UK customers are now waiting longer in key Post Office queues than a year ago. According to research commissioned by Consumer Focus, customers are waiting an average of six minutes seven seconds to be served, compared to five minutes 40 seconds last year, an increase of 7%.

Twenty-one per cent of customers in these branches are waiting more than 10 minutes to be served, and 38% of customers wait more than five minutes.

Despite the ongoing modernisation of the network, many Post Offices appear to have struggled to accommodate increased numbers of customers resulting from the closure of almost 2,500 Post Offices during the closure programme.

Long waiting times were not the only gripe of customers, reports the watchdog. Just 56% of counter positions were open in the Post Offices visited, fewer than last year, and 27% of counter staff were found to be issuing customers with incorrect proof of postage documents, leaving them vulnerable to losing out if mail is lost or undelivered.

Despite this, the quality of other advice given by counter staff to customers with queries about sending mail was found to be excellent.

Andy Burrows, Post Office expert at Consumer Focus, said: “Customers are unlikely to be surprised to hear that queues at Post Offices are getting worse. Queues have continued to creep up and it seems that Post Office closures have added to the problem.

“Customer experience is crucial to the long-term health of the network. Post Office Ltd will only be able to fully realise the potential of new business opportunities, such as new banking products, if customers’ experiences in branches are improved.

“Post Offices need to attract new customers, not just keep existing ones, to secure the viability of the network. Unless the queue problem is tackled, this simply won’t happen.”

Consumer Focus is calling for modernisation of the Post Office network to be better targeted to tackle problem queues.

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