In anticipation of future trips out of the country, I searched online for the passport application procedure. The detailed instructions advised of my requirement to bring my application and other required documents to an acceptance facility (United States Post Office). Online information shows that the hours of operation for passport application are 9:00am – 2:00pm, Monday through Friday. Upon arriving at the post office on a Tuesday at around 11:30am, the passport office was locked, with an “Hours” sign on the door, but without any hours of operation listed. I proceeded to wait in the post office line in an attempt to gain information regarding the passport office. When greeted with a “next!” from the post office worker, I asked if he knew when someone would return to the passport office. He advised that I would have to return at 6am the following morning to sign up for an appointment and someone from the passport office would call me to schedule an appointment! When I stated that this procedure is not very customer friendly, the postal worker advised me that this was an upper management decision and I should contact the passport agency about having someone at the location if I was unhappy with the current procedure. By the way, he stated all of this without making eye contact and did not seem the least bit empathetic about how this procedure impacted passport application customers.
When partnering – in this case – the post office and the passport agency, it’s important to make sure that partners are on the same page regarding procedures. The passport website information regarding passport acceptance facility (passport office at the post office) hours of operation did not match what actually takes place at the acceptance facility. Passport customers should feel confident that the information provided on the website is correct. Partner employees (post office employees) should be confident that the procedure information provided by the onsite passport agency personnel is the same information provided on the passport agency website. On another note, the procedure of requesting a passport customer to return at 6am to add their name to a list, wait for a phone call from a passport agency employee to schedule an appointment and then return for the appointment is not at all customer friendly. I would suggest offering the option to for passport application customers to schedule appointments online. This method offers ease of use to the customer as well as efficient use of passport office personnel as both the number of allotted appointments can be controlled and personnel scheduled to be onsite only when needed. In the meantime, I still need a passport!!