Our interim Chief Executive, Al Cameron and members of the Post Office Leadership Team spoke at the NFSP annual conference last week. Attended by around 150 members representing postmasters across the UK, the conference is an important event for Post Office.
The conference provides an opportunity to share our plans with members and more importantly to listen to their feedback and concerns and answer their questions.
Throughout the two days, there was a strong desire for both Post Office and NFSP to challenge each other and work together to support postmasters. Below is an overview of the some key updates and announcements.
Starting the day
NFSP CEO Calum Greenhow started the conference summarising the importance of team work. Looking ahead, Calum discussed his priorities for the coming year. You can read more in the next issue of the NFSP magazine.
Setting out the future direction
Following Calum’s opening address, Al Cameron, Interim Chief Executive and Debbie Smith Retail Chief Executive spoke.
Al reflected on the commercial journey since separation from Royal Mail, and the recent GLO judgment. He discussed the need to work closer with postmasters and called out for even more debate and challenges so we can be better. He reiterated our commitment to accelerate our work to make things easier for Postmasters.
Al said: “We have to make it easier for Postmasters to make more money for less effort and in a better spirit of partnership. More flexible models, more trust in their retail judgment, more practical help and advice, encouraging them to share best practice, support services that are obsessed with helping Post Offices serve customers, more automation, better data to identify and solve issues, less paperwork. Enabling digital to be a valued partner service not a competitor. And communicating in language and through channels that everyone understands.”
Debbie reflected on her first year at Post Office and the inspirational postmasters doing great things for their customers and their communities. She went on to discuss what has changed in the last year, reflecting both the internal and external environment and summarised how we want to become better for customers and better for postmasters.
To be better for customers, Debbie recognised we need to be flexible and customer-led. A great example is when some Postmasters asked to be able to sell travel insurance as customers were often approaching them, but their model type didn’t give that flexibility. We agreed that if the postmaster is willing to undergo the relevant training then they can offer the product to their community.
Debbie also shared a few examples of how we are improving support for postmasters – they include through the new field team structure which is now up and running, Branch Hub, and plans to improve training. Remuneration was an important topic and we acknowledged ongoing risings costs faced by postmasters – this is an area we have made some progress in and we need to do more.
Spotlight on Banking and Mails
Also presenting were Martin Kearsley, Banking Services Director and Mark Siviter, Managing Director for Mails and Retail, on the future of banking and mails respectively.
Martin reflected on the growth of banking over the last three years especially with deposits. He shared information on ATMs and drop and go service for banking to manage the volumes coming through. He gave an update on POCa services and also announced further important remuneration news.
Mark focused on trends within the mails sector and shared how digital behaviours are changing and what parcel operators in the UK and abroad are doing to win in the market. Digital is a space we need to explore to help us remain number one in the letters and parcels market. He also shared news of mails segregation performance in the last year, where we have seen improvement and the achievement of one of our key targets.
Discussions on day two
Key participation on the second day involved Amanda Jones, Retail Director, joining a Question & Answer panel alongside Royal Mail, Citizen’s Advice and NFSP. A range of topics from identity services, to Royal Mail sales approach were discussed.
Post Office colleagues from Supply Chain, Security and Grapevine, and Branch Hub, Digital IT Service desk team also attended the event to speak to members, ask questions and get feedback on the services we provide. The Alzheimer’s Society also attended to speak to postmasters about being a dementia friendly retailer.
Mark Dinsdale, Security Manager said: “The level of interest in our Security stand was high. It's so important to spend time speaking to postmasters about the things that matter to them. One of the things we were speaking to postmasters about cutting edge security technology that we are rolling out to keep our people safe in high risk branches, this was clearly welcomed from the conversations we had.“
Equally, The IT team reported a high level of interest in Branch Hub and the Digital Service Desk with many postmasters signing up. Lorna Owens, Senior Service Manager for IT said: "We focused on demonstrating the new IT digital service desk, showing delegates how to use the IT self-help guides, taking questions and comments on any aspect of IT service or any local issues branches had that we will follow up on”.
The conference was constructive and set out how we want to work with postmasters and help them build a successful business.
Future plans and specific details shared at the Conference will be published in the next issue of One Business magazine, which will be available from mid-May.