This article discusses the findings from Escher Group’s ‘The Future of Posts 2019’ report. Escher is an international leader in providing customer engagement solutions for the postal industry.
The rise of e-commerce and a proliferation of new technology has dramatically changed the postal industry. Now one thing is clearer than ever: Posts need to put the customer first or face losing valuable trade.
Customer experience is the single biggest competitive advantage Posts have, according to Escher’s second annual Future of Posts 2019 report.
It’s a takeaway that’s echoing across the postal industry at large as savvy Posts turn to data analytics, introduce self-service kiosks and promote more efficient parcel deliveries and returns to meet the growing demands of the ‘always-on’ consumer.
But just how should Posts optimize the customer experience and what else should they be looking to do to compete in 2019 and beyond?
1. Big data is a secret weapon for better customer awareness
Big data has huge support in the postal industry. It’s commonly linked to strategies that can improve efficiency or curtail spending, but innovative postal operators are using it to redefine the customer experience.
94 percent of Posts are either using or planning to use data analytics for customer awareness. Drilling into the right data is giving critical insight into the factors that feed better engagement within their target markets – and, in turn, it’s fueling investments and impacting ROI.
“For postal operators, having information on customer interactions will lead to better informed decision-making,” Nick Manolis, CEO of Escher, says. “Customers expect a cross-channel experience so big data can link complementary products with the service required so that the consumer gets everything they need in one visit across whatever channel they choose.”
2. Digitalization fuels the post office for people on the go
The ‘always-on’ consumer is also known as the ‘always-busy’ consumer. We pack so much into our free time that it can be difficult to find time to get to the post office – or make it a quick trip once we’re there.
Instead, Posts are turning to digital solutions like Kiosks, Mobile POS and data analytics to improve branch productivity and make the journey as efficient as possible for consumers. It’s no surprise that 92 percent of Posts believe that these solutions will play an important role in improving branch productivity – and the potential is twofold as it’ll transform the in-store experience for the business and its customers.
“The introduction of new Point-Of-Service (POS) software including self-service kiosks, mobile POS and parcel lockers means that cheaper post office models can be deployed profitably in more locations to ensure an improved customer experience,” Manolis says.
3. Posts expand the network through self-service kiosks
Mobility is a key component of modern POS. People want to be able to access products in more places than one and on their own time, which is why 91 percent of Posts either already have or are planning on introducing self-service kiosks.
“For Postal operators, having information on customer interactions will lead to better informed decision-making.” – Nick Manolis, CEO, Escher
“Expecting customers to only do business at a brick-and-mortar location no longer works,” Manolis says. “Digitally savvy customers have accepted self-service kiosks because they’re used to interacting with kiosks in other retail settings and they realize the value: reduced lines and extended hours of operation – and that enables them to do business on their terms.”
4. Parcels are the bedrock of postal industry success moving forward
The impact of e-commerce on the postal industry has been undeniable as business-to-consumer and business-to-business parcel shipping has dramatically increased in volume in recent years. It’s a trend that the industry expects to continue, with 90 percent of Posts believing that parcels will be the most important factor to success over the next five years.
Plus, companies largely see the continued success of e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay as potential sources of growth. Posts are becoming a necessary intermediary between these companies and their customers across shipping and returns.
“Post offices are the largest accessible network for customers in each country,” Manolis says. “When Posts take full advantage of this by utilizing self-serve, parcel lockers and third-party PUDO locations they can really position themselves in the best way possible to reap the rewards of the parcel industry.”
5. Deutsche Post DHL is the most admired postal operator in the world – again
When you’re voted the best post for the second year in a row, you know you’re doing something right. It’s an accolade given to Deutsche Post DHL. Given its long history of innovation, it’s not hard to see why.
DPDHL’s commitment to green-friendly services and innovative technology places it at the forefront of the postal industry. It’s the type of projects that give back to customers in more ways than one – and without compromising on the quality of service. The company is setting the pace for the industry and serves as a role model as to how Posts can refocus their mission around the customer experience.
“We see a lot of Posts doing the right thing and making great progress, but with DPDHL, I think they’ve been voted the most admired Post for three reasons,” Manolis says. “They are really investing and transforming to become a parcels business; they’re embracing new technology around e-commerce; and, ultimately, they’re focusing on the customer.”