As society transitions to an experience based culture where we seek positive experiences, one begins to wonder how this might impact the postal service in Australia.
A cursory glance at the corporate run post offices shows a slick, clean, professional space that often has the latest gadgets like self-service postage machines. Under the gleaming surface though, what is the actual customer experience like? Remember, the experience, not the service.
As I’ve run a number of businesses shipping an array of products using many freight services including corporate post offices, licensed post offices, eParcel, and many different couriers, there are some patterns that I’ve noticed.
One is that typically you can expect a better customer experience at an LPO than a corporate post office, in spite of the lack of expensive gadgets. Why? Because the experience is more human. Corporate post offices tend to be run by staff that don’t want to be there and really don’t care whether you come in or not. This may be an over generalisation and I will admit it is not true of all staff, but it does seem to be the majority. This manifests itself in the form of slow workers, disinterested workers, disdain for customers, and very, very poor customer service.
In contrast, at an LPO they rely on your business to operate, they don’t get propped up by corporate Australia Post. This means they treat you like a person, they remember your name, and they do their best to make the experience a positive one.
I’ve regularly used these corporate post offices:
- Pennant Hills
- Runaway Bay
I’ve also regularly used these LPO’s:
- West Pennant Hills
- Harbour Town Gold Coast
- Coopers Plains
- Salisbury East
I can tell you by far the best experience has come from the LPO’s, to the point that I will travel twice the distance to go to an LPO over a corporate post office.
If I don’t have time to go to one of the further away LPO’s, I may drop into the Pennant Hills corporate post office for example to drop off freight that is too large to put in a post box and is not suitable to go by courier. I will then walk across the road to the newsagent to buy stamps because I’ve just had a terrible experience with the post office attendant and will not contribute to paying their wage. I’d much rather support the newsagent that is friendly and wants my business than the post office attendant that is unhappy, slow, disinterested, argumentative and just plain doesn’t care. They can have bad days sure, but when every experience is the same, they can’t all be bad days. It is true that some are worse and even within those post offices not all staff are bad. In my experience Pennant Hills is the worst overall. To their credit a new attendant has recently started in what appears to be a managerial position who is quite good. Unfortunately that is just one staff member.
This pattern of behaviour at corporate post offices only contributes to the negative brand image Australia Post has that continues to be propped up by it’s dominant market position in the Australian parcel delivery market. It can’t last though. It would be unfortunate to see it privatised, broken up or some other strategy to salvage it, but can a self-destructive cycle of disdain towards customers at key engagement points really continue? It’s at the point where I can no longer enter a corporate post office without expecting a negative experience of some kind. As such it is almost like I am actively looking for something because I expect there to be something. Not good.
LPO’s seem to understand this conundrum and while they are not always smooth experiences, they seem to rarely be negative as they actively strive to get to know their regular customers personally and anticipate their needs. The Coopers Plains LPO is a classic example where I was on a first name basis with the staff there who paid attention to my shipping needs and found ways to streamline and speed up the service I was offered while also keeping the costs as low as possible.
Australia Post is in a unique position of having a network of LPO’s that provide superb customer experiences while corporately struggling with a negative brand image and poor customer experience. Can it learn from itself?
What has your experience been?