Royal Mail poor performance hits a record low

A record Royal Mail poor performance report has just been published, with Royal Mail missing their delivery targets across the board. And indeed, they didn’t just miss their targets, they underperformed by a massive margin.

Royal Mail poor performance might actually be even worse than the report suggests, as it covers the period from the 26th of September to the 4th of December 2022. They’re not reporting the days up to Christmas – Christmas performance is always excluded from Royal Mail Quality of Service reports – and so the real numbers could be much worse.

It’s no surprise that Royal Mail forced many small businesses to close sales weeks before Christmas, leading to £1000s in lost sales and putting massive pressure on business owners – the last thing they needed in the face of rising costs while still recovering from the pandemic.

Royal Mail poor performance in Q3

  • In the reporting period, which exempts the run up to Christmas, Royal Mail delivered 54.1% of First Class mail the next working day, missing their 93% target by a whopping -38.9%
  • Q3 saw Royal Mail only delivering 78.6% of Second Class mail within three working days, missing their 98.5% target by -19.9%
  • Even Royal Mail’s premier service, Special Delivery, which they prioritised on strike days suffered with 85.6% delivered on time missing their 99% target by -13.4

There have been steady weekly improvements in Quality of Service through January and February 2023. Recent performance levels are the highest we have seen since last summer.

While the majority of mail is delivered on time, nine days of highly damaging industrial action by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in the quarter to 4 December 2022 significantly lowered our performance during this period on the back of high absence levels.

Our focus is to restore our service to the high standards our customers expect to receive, and to seek an urgent end to our dispute with CWU and ongoing strike action. To improve our Quality of Service it is vital that we modernise our network and ways of working so that we can more effectively manage the changing mix of mail in our posties’ mailbag. Like postal authorities around the world, we have to make changes to adapt to the reality of significant structural declines in letter volumes – which have declined by 25% since the pandemic – alongside growing demands for parcel deliveries.

– Royal Mail

It’s hard to see how Royal Mail can claim that “the majority of mail is delivered on time” when they have missed their targets by such a distance. Personally, I only had mail delivered on 3 days in the first half of January, which included a 1st Class Signed For parcel, shipped on the 5th of January and not arriving until the 17th of January – A full 12 days to deliver a 1st Class item is unheard of and no where near the quality of service one customarily expects from the postal service.

Given their dire performance, Royal Mail say that they have have written to the regulator, Ofcom, to offer to increased engagement and reporting and want to work closely with the regulator to improve performance.

We are committed to improving our performance and accelerating Royal Mail’s transformation in order to restore service levels while meeting the changing requirements of our customers. We’re sorry to any customers who may have been impacted by service levels during this period which are much lower than we would want as a result of CWU’s ongoing strike action.

– Grant McPherson, Chief Operating Officer, Royal Mail

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