Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Post Office - An Enigma

One of the beauties of having one's own space on the web is that from time to time, one is allowed the chance to rant. This particular rant will be of more relevance to those readers who are UK based.

What is it with the Post Office and specifically, why are they shutting down so many branches? Is this great strategic leadership or mis-management of the highest order?

The Post Office branches must be one of the best retail brands in the UK. Just about everyone trusts the Post Office. They have a superb product portfolio - great (safe) savings products, a decent credit card, the girobank, postal orders, premium bonds, travel insurance, free currency exchange to name but a few. They also have a captive audience - all of us have to visit the Post Office from time to time.

So why can't these branches be run at a profit?

For a start the internal branding and layout is generally shabby and very, well very 1970s. The staff generally seem very helpful but pretty de-motivated (well hey, they are all losing their jobs) and not very sales oriented. And the upsell opportunities for related products are really not being properly exploited.

The strategic answer is - these branches are not making money, so let's close them.

Did anyone think to upgrade them, re-train the staff and turn them into money making hubs?

As an outsider looking in, it seems like a missed opportunity to me and that is without counting the social cost to those groups and communities who rely on the Post Office much more than people like me. It is an enigma to me as to why the Post Office is not one of the most successful brands on the high street and in every small town and village. Instead, it is a dinosaur that is heading for extinction.

Perhaps someone will explain the error of my thinking - Mr Crozier perhaps?

Simon Cooper is chief executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of Brilliant Leader and architect of the Brilliant Leadership workshops.

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