CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Being customer-focused means recognizing that there’s always room for improvement, and that’s how most posts operate. Today, it’s about finding the technology and tools that make continuous customer satisfaction possible. For example, Escher’s customer engagement platform, Riposte, helps postal operators deliver an exceptional quality of experience, expanding and deepening points of engagement to meet customers on their terms. We recently integrated QuestionPro, the leading provider of online survey software, into our platform. Our customers can now create and distribute surveys in multiple formats and distribute them to a wide range of devices including desktop and mobile. We also introduced additional tools for enhanced data analytics to help strengthen the customer experience, including an optimization recommendation engine that gives posts specific steps they can take to streamline operations and enhance revenue. This means posts can improve the customer experience across all channels, services, modes of engagement, and physical locations.
There are many key success factors posts rely on and when these performance metrics are met or exceeded, the end result is often an exceptional customer experience.
One key success factor is first-time delivery rate as this is an area that customers immediately notice. Failed deliveries occur when drivers cannot find the property, or because the consumer is not home, and this results in repeated attempts to deliver the parcel. So, posts that can successfully deliver on the first attempt will no doubt improve the overall customer experience. There are two ways to improve first-time delivery success rate. The first is to deliver to where the customer is (home or office), and the second way is to deliver to where the customer will be (the PUDO location). PUDO locations solve the first and last mile challenge and are the most cost-effective option overall. Leveraging PUDO locations offers a quick way for posts to expand their retail network without incurring the large overhead costs that would traditionally be associated with a post-owned bricks and mortar post office expansion.
Escher offers a sophisticated solution, Riposte PUDO, as part of its customer engagement platform. Posts can quickly expand their reach by using Escher’s PUDO solution to bring third-party outlets, agent networks, and franchisees into their post office retail network. Since the PUDO solution is an extension of Escher’s customer engagement platform, posts don’t have to worry about managing two separate POS systems.
Another key metric is the time it takes post office employees to complete a transaction. When customers visit physical post offices, they should be able to complete their transactions as efficiently as possible. Plus, longer transaction times can result in fewer transactions and less revenue. A POS system that supports mobile devices, like Escher’s customer engagement platform, can help improve this metric by liberating employees from the counter and allowing them to facilitate transactions with people who are waiting in line.
Lastly, time to train and onboard new staff is important. As posts often operate the largest retail network in their country, the need to hire clerks and other employees is an ongoing requirement. Posts appreciate Escher’s user interface design as it is very intuitive and easy to use, resulting in minimal to no training requirements. This means employees can begin using the product right away, dramatically lowering time to train and onboarding new staff. This is key as staff turnover in retail environments tends to be high. Moreover, Escher’s soon-to-be-released Digital Onboarding solution will help customers quickly understand how to effectively use Escher’s platform as well, giving today’s digital-first consumer the self-serve experiences they want.
Data analytics continues to be a key area of focus for postal operators. In our most recent study – Future of Post 2019 report – 94% of posts indicated they are either using or planning to use data analytics to improve the customer experience. And these findings are encouraging as having information on customer interactions will lead to better informed decision-making.
It’s a tremendous, largely untapped, opportunity too. Many posts around the world operate the largest retail network in their respective country so leveraging those customer interactions in a meaningful way will give critical insight into the factors that lead to better engagement. Ideally for any data analytics initiative to be successful in a postal environment, the technology needs to scale, of course, but it should also be prescriptive. While the best analytics tool depends on your business objectives, prescriptive analytics solutions have the capability to analyse all available data and present the best possible solution. These types of analytic tools that are “always-on” can also continually or automatically factor in new information so that solutions or actions to be considered are as accurate as possible.
Our Riposte Insight solution empowers posts by helping them easily generate end-to-end surveys using highly predictive data analytics options. Posts can leverage over 80 ready-made standard and advanced question types as well as over 300 survey templates.
Building on this, we recently announced Riposte AI which develops advanced analytics using the data from Riposte Insight and an Optimisation Recommendation Engine. These recommendations aim to impact return on investment and offer actionable insights which can be implemented quickly to help posts turn these insights into actions. This solution leverages data science and machine learning and helps postal operators reduce costs, identify new revenue opportunities, and improve the customer experience. Riposte AI simplifies POS data analysis across a post’s entire network, providing clear, actionable recommendations for improvement. With the ability to analyse POS data from up to 50,000 post locations, including other external inputs, the solution delivers simple, actionable recommendations, and assigns a monetary value to them as well. It’s quite remarkable.
From our Future of Posts, 2019 report, we already discussed that 94% of posts are either using or planning to use data analytics to enhance the customer experience.
The digitalization of postal services, or the rolling out of additional online channels to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s always-on consumer was top of mind with posts as well in our latest study, 92% of posts indicated digital solutions (like self-service kiosks, or mobile POS) will play an important role in improving branch productivity and make the journey as efficient as possible for customers. As customers increasingly expect more points of engagement with their post, and post offices continue to realize increased efficiencies, serving customers through online channels, this trend will no doubt continue to accelerate
In response to these trends, posts are continuing to expand their posts with self-service kiosks. In fact, 91% of posts either already have or are planning on introducing self-service kiosks. Consumers are used to interacting with kiosks in other retail settings and they realize the value – reduced lines and extended hours of operation, empowering them to do business on their terms.
Another trend, which will come as no surprise, is the increase in parcel volumes. Our Survey revealed, 90% of posts believe that parcels will be the most important factor to success over the next five years. The parcels business is growing at an annual rate of over 10%. Given that many postal operators across Europe have experienced a decline of over 50% of their mail volumes over the last 10 years, posts have been transforming their business models to take full advantage of this by utilizing self-serve and third-party PUDO locations so they can really position themselves in the best way possible to reap the rewards of the parcel industry. Escher has helped many posts expand their retail network by adding PUDO locations, and at Parcel & Post Expo this year, we released our latest version of Riposte PUDO, making this an even more compelling option for posts to lower costs,
improve the customer experience and so much more.
Embracing change is the best way posts can prepare themselves for the future. Technology has and will continue to be a key enabler, so posts who stay mindful of change and who look to innovate in response to change will be in a much stronger position in the future. If we look at the highly competitive retail landscape, we see many great examples of companies that have invested heavily in technologies that provide their customers with a unique and consistent experience from any device, in any location, at any time. This is the standard of customer experience that has been ingrained in every consumer’s mind. So, the one piece of advice we can give is to always adopt a customer-first approach – one that enables posts to engage with customers on the customer’s terms, anywhere and anytime, across any channel, service, mode of engagement, or physical location.