With the advent of digital technology, postal service all over seems to be fading fast into complete irrelevance. What should be done, from a marketing perspective, to stem the Nigerian postal service from going out of business? – A. O. Adegoke
In continuation with recent Nigerian Postal Services’ (NIPOST’s) move to collaborate with the School of Banking Honors (SBH) to revitalize stamping (N50-stamping) on all bank receipts (in conformity with the Stamp Duty Act 2004, as amended in 2010), which I referred to as ingenuous earlier, it should be noted that NIPOST, as the sole government agency charged with affixing postage stamps to transaction receipts under the law, will reap immensely from this (about N50 billion is projected).
This law implies that receipts on transaction in Nigeria would not be complete without affixing postage stamps on them. With this, legal documents (e.g. lean agreements, deposit agreements, staff employment contracts, staff promotion letters, purchase order agreement and any other agreement covered by law) would not be perfect unless the duty stamp was applied. I see this move as fallout of an impressive “marketing thinking”.
For postal service to remain within reckoning and confront the present challenges of today’s competition, embracing modern technology is obviously the best approach towards remaining relevant. This has become quite significant as Mail now comprise a vital complement to online services, occupying centre stage in efforts aimed at making people not give up using ‘snail mail’. Taking cognizance of the general trend presently which portends a significant place for information technology in various areas of solutions provision, for any postal service to withstand the ‘pull’ towards going out of business it must shift from the ‘old ways’.
While real-time scans are now getting integrated within postal and customer operations to boost end-to-end performance, adopting an automated postal system using the web site as platform is essential. Automation give this system an edge in order to be relevant these times considering its application in cutting down on manual handling for improved consistency; sorting of letters into delivery point sequence; and improved transit time. Think about these functions of a typical postal service becoming part of the structure of a web site – Package tracking; scheduling pickups; printing out shipping labels; e-commerce; application of the social media.
Along these lines, online casino in any of its operational areas (e.g. mail preparation, processing, transportation, delivery, and retail), for the Postal Service to maintain any reckoning presently it has to offer more versatile products; ensure more operational efficiency; empower its employees for customer satisfaction; and above all incorporate the Internet in line with current development in consumer behavior.
From a marketing perspective, to stem the possibility of the postal service going out of business, identifying vital market opportunities is key, while recognising that marketing will facilitate efforts intended for maintaining any competitive position in the market (and of course increased revenue). As hinted above, application of full potentials of information technologies (encompassing the internet and other forms of digital communication) also remain crucial.
To ameliorate the situation faced by NIPOST these marketing related issues should not be overlooked:
The place of the customer is vital since postal service must meet customer needs in order to survive. This could be inclusive of reducing customer efforts through reduction of distractions caused by bureaucracy, inefficient processes, and outdated requirements. Customer service must entail re-examination of every process for enhanced customer value; upgrade steps that make for consistent positive customer experience (e.g. easy access to information and service; resolve concerns). These must hold across all contact points, such as self-service kiosks, phone, other mobile devices, interaction with carriers and other retail outlets.
Efforts at educating customers on managing the entire value chain should be put in place, embodying multimedia promotional tools (e.g. integration of direct mail advertising; social media; web site bearing online services; letters, catalogs, as platform for reaching consumers about the future of Mail).
The Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) must embrace change, and view innovation as a major way out. This makes for collaboration and trusted relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, the academic and technical community, other stakeholders, to develop new services, new approaches, and profitable new applications for Mail. It must use the Internet more extensively to build its business.
NIPOST should re-engineer its product and service development process in order to bring, quickly, new services to the market. Output in this regard must be tailored to various customer segments, like support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) having specialized needs. This will certainly aid admission into profitable postal-related markets, and create other favourable opportunities.
Employees as advocates
There should be strong adherence to continuous building of a performance-based culture in this area – A deviation from the typical perception of what entities of the public sector portray. As employees comprise the core of any Postal Service brand, NIPOST should retain all its employees as fervent and eloquent Advocates of the Mail system. This depicts a situation where employees have the desired interest in a strong Postal Service.
In conclusion, even where it has become quite clear that modern technology (which digital communication epitomizes) is the main ‘culprit’ in snatching relevance away from the postal service, I have no iota of doubt that adherence to what this piece conveys will keep NIPOST ‘afloat’, as the Mail will not go away completely.