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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Post Office: The Good News

Oscar Foulkes August 17, 2012 Uncategorized No comments

If you’re struggling to fight your way through a call centre, or a bureaucracy with constipated workflow, get onto social media. I know this can be construed as being inappropriately aggressive, but hey, if they haven’t listened to you via other channels – and you’re getting frustrated – it may be a necessary step.

I have written about the inept way in which many corporates make use of social media. However poor they may be at it, the one thing many of them have done is to put a person – or team – onto the job. There is a reasonable degree of probability that the social media department is able to connect to anyone they want to, right across the organization, without going through the usual protocols.

The South African Post Office (SAPO) frustrates me a lot, which has spurred me into writing several blog posts. Last week, while on the SAPO website (yet another futile attempt to make use of their online track and trace facility), I noticed a link to their Facebook page. Interesting, I thought, and clicked through.

I can’t say I was surprised that the number of ‘likes’ was less than 200. In fact, if there was the opportunity to make a selection for ‘dislike’, or even stronger, I’m sure that number would have been in the thousands. I left a comment on the timeline, to which they responded soon after.

Emails were exchanged. Within 24 hours I had received a phone call from Noluvo Dlulane, the Western Cape’s Regional Manager for Retail, suggesting that we meet. She made notes of all the problem areas I highlighted, along with solutions that I proposed. She then gave me an explanation of how the Post Office works, with its various business divisions, as well as the work that’s being done to optimise systems and procedures.

Yes, you can imagine that each division does its own sweet thing, and when one division doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, it has a knock-on effect throughout the organisation. Layer this on top of public service attitude absent of profit mentality or customer focus, and it turns into the dysfunctional mess that has frustrated me so much.

But, as Noluvo so carefully explained to me, there is a plan. Far from being defensive about the problems, she acknowledged them, and was more than happy to talk about them. She remained charming throughout our 90-minute meeting, even when I may have given her cause not to.

It didn’t end there. The following day I had a call from the Area Manager, Basil Tobias, who was at my local branch, in the process of investigating my issues. Over the next 24 hours I had regular update calls, either from him, or from people he had put onto the queries.

They have sorted out my biggest – and longest-standing – query. The SAPO is still the same beast, but I’m very grateful to the combined efforts of the social media team, Noluvo Dlulane and Basil Tobias in putting out the worst of the fires.

One of my concerns was that the staff at my local branch would end up taking the flak, but these were quickly dismissed when I arrived at the branch yesterday. The manager couldn’t have been more grateful for me raising the alarm, because he is now empowered to take actions that enable him to service his customers better. The first example is that he is permitted to order more than 10 Easipost boxes at a time (I know, it seems crazy to restrict the stockholding of an item that sells in much greater quantities every month).

Noluvo told me how she started her career at the SAPO as a teller. In 2011, the Western Cape received the SAPO award for the best region. Based upon the way she handled my complaints, that won’t be the last award she receives, and she’s sure to be promoted beyond her current Regional Manager status.

The fact remains that she shouldn’t have been put in the position of having to put out these fires, so let’s see what changes the SAPO implements. Until then, the social media channels could be busy.

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