It’s Monday noon and 20-something professional Gillian just wants to return a bag.
Usually, she takes unwanted online purchases to the store for the instant refund, but she tried a U.S. brand with no local locations. Now, she’s spending her lunch break doing something she hasn’t done since she was a kid – visiting the post office.
When Gillian arrives, she’s pleasantly surprised. Sure, there’s a line, but a postal employee quickly greets her and offers to process her transaction with his tablet. When she mentions her package, he directs her to one of the self-serve parcel kiosks so she doesn’t have to wait in line. He then shows her how to use it, while also mentioning a few other self-service kiosks in the area (that just happen to be closer to her house).
All in all, Gillian’s out in about 10 minutes. On her way back to work, she figures she’ll just do this next time she has a return, even for local brands.
If this idea of the “happy millennial postal customer” sounds like a ludicrous fairy tale, it’s not. With the right mindset, delivering an excellent customer experience to a new generation of consumers is entirely possible. What’s more, with the right changes, you can even convince Millennials and Gen Zers to incorporate your service into their shopping routines.
To start, younger consumers expect speed and convenience.
Offering a tangible service isn’t an excuse for a poor customer experience. You can’t email a coffee, but that hasn’t stopped Starbucks from developing a successful mobile order process. As a result, stopping by Starbucks is an even more ingrained part of people’s routines. They order on the way out the door and pick up on the way into the office – no lines, no waiting.
Many postal operators are offering a similar experience by thinking beyond the counter. Limited counter terminals lead to long lines. On the face of it, the solution sounds simple: buy more terminals. But the overall foot traffic may not justify such a costly fixed expense.
Instead, posts can make the most of the resources they have by introducing a mobile POS system. Workers can move down the line and interact with customers while facilitating transactions. Posts move through customers faster, thereby increasing the day’s revenue. Everybody is smiling today!
The best-case scenario is a mobile POS system that’s an extension of the counter POS. Post office employees don’t have to learn a brand new system, allowing them to offer quick service to customers. Additionally, the same mobile POS technology can be leveraged during peak holiday periods outside of the traditional post office. Many posts leverage this technology and open pop-up post offices (for example, in malls) to cope with the additional parcel volumes during these busy times (which are often open later than the traditional post office). Think of this as the post office on-demand.
In addition, posts can offer self-serve kiosks for package pick up and drop offs. As a result, posts become a convenient way for customers to manage the inconvenience of returns or missed deliveries.
Do you really know what your customers want?
When you’re running a large-scale national retail operation, you need a way to distribute feedback requests at scale. Customer engagement technology currently on the market allows posts to generate high quality surveys with multiple question types and email them to customers.
Of course, one of the challenges of conducting a survey is synthesizing the data and generating useful insights. In the past, posts may have needed to manually add survey data in spreadsheets. Today, your post can feed survey results into AI-powered optimization engines that analyze the data and make recommendations.
This also allows you to make informed decisions about your customer experience enhancements. Suppose you and your team want to install self-serve kiosks but lack the resources to roll these out across your entire network. Which locations do you choose for the pilot project? Without data, it’s easy to rely on assumptions and miss out on an opportunity to maximize your revenue.
An optimization engine helps generate detailed insights. For instance, a sophisticated optimization engine would not only suggest additional kiosks but also identify where they’d have the most impact and what the estimated revenue increase would be.
Focusing on the customer is how posts remain top of mind and profitable in the twenty-first century. With today’s customers seeking multichannel, digital-first, convenience-oriented experiences, posts will need to embrace the right technology and continuously gather feedback.