Serving communities for more than 300 years from the largest UK retail network of 11,500 branches, the Post Office is one of the UK’s best-known brands.
Like many high street retailers the Post Office is transforming its business to continue to serve the changing needs of its customers and we caught up with Catherine Hamilton, Business Performance Director at the Post Office, to find out how the organisation is deploying new technology to stay relevant to existing customers – whilst also attracting new ones.
Why does the Post Office need to stay relevant and continue to innovate?
Post Office has successfully been serving customers for many years and throughout its history has had to change and remain flexible to serve the different needs of so many generations. Today every business is experiencing accelerated change, with technology driving business decisions and customer behaviour we have to transform to remain relevant to customers today and into the future. Innovation is essential and every digital investment we make stems from the needs of the tens of millions of customers we serve.
What digital investments have the Post Office made to stay relevant?
In the last 18 months, we’ve consolidated our IT network to deliver improved services at a reduced cost. We’ve also condensed the supply chain, to simplify management and implement change faster. To do this, we recognised that we had to streamline and optimise at the same time, so set ourselves three objectives:
- To speed up data exchange – we refreshed the technology suite across the entire Post Office network and are replacing our data centres with a cloud-based model.
- To improve the PoS experience – we’re simplifying how Post Office operators interact with customers in branch and to facilitate this we’ve invested in new Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) across our branch network.
- To make the experience mobile – the Post Office Travel app, launched earlier this year, provides an easy way for customers to purchase and top up their Travel Money Card and buy Travel Insurance. This is the first creation in a series of digital capabilities providing an enhanced and consistent customer experience.
*Read about the Post Office EPOS refresh and how it’s transforming services across Post Office counters around the UK.
As we look to 2020 and beyond, how will the Post Office continue to innovate and keep up with consumer demand?
The Post Office is the largest retail network in the UK with 99% of the UK population living within 3 miles of a branch. When you operate a network on this scale you have to work with and rely on the expertise of trusted suppliers. We trust our supplier network to help us identify best-of-breed technologies and then work with them to implement and improve the way we work. Only through this approach, and focusing on the needs of our people and customers, are we able to keep up with the pace of change.
What advice do you have for other companies wanting to transform?
Transformation can be overwhelming, and wholesale change for large companies like Post Office is a significant challenge. We work on the idea of it being an evolution and my top tip would be to break the strategy down into the following steps:
- Engage your people - they must feel involved in the process for it to be successful. Create cross-functional teams and work together with them to identify the challenges felt in all areas of the business.
- Evaluate the process - once you have identified where improvement can be made, create a framework of how you are going to go about change. Not all businesses will fit into one framework so be adaptable where it makes sense.
- Focus on technology - once your framework is fit for purpose, ensure you make smart decisions about the technology to invest in, and the timeframe for deploying it. Understand where the value is and how you can produce a minimum viable product quickly to start seeing returns as fast as possible.
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