Making technology work for you

Making technology work for you

One looks at developments in the pipeline for branches

The Post Office is investing in new technology, and this year will start to replace old kit in some 1,400 branches, as well as looking to improve everyday processes for all branches. 

Many happy returns

The team has already launched an easier method for Home Shopping Returns.

Senior product manager for mails Davyd Nash said:
“We’ve taken a common, complicated process and cut out everything that’s unnecessary or repetitive. We’ve made it easier, quicker and better for postmasters and customers.”

Encouraging start

After just over a week of the new Home Shopping Returns process, 4,442 branches used it to complete 239,917 Home Shopping Returns (21 per cent of the total done in those eight days). This saved an estimated 1,097 hours.

The first week of January was the biggest ever week for shoppers returning items, with 789,000 home shopping returns accepted by Post Office branches. Read more in our story, Record returns

Initial feedback has been positive, with branch teams calling the new process “very useful – shorter and easier to scan” and describing the streamlined steps as “very clear and straightforward”.

Access directly from the new Returns button on the Horizon home page has also been praised as “far better – something like this has been a long time coming, but it’s quicker and really good”.

The business is planning to simplify other processes too, and postmasters and branch teams will be kept updated.

Branch technology

Counter equipment can be up to 15-years old and plans have been taking shape to replace kit in some branches.

In the August issue of the magazine, One asked readers what would improve their IT experience.

Brian Gadsby from Two Dales branch got in touch to say,
“I understood we were having new computer equipment for outreach.”

Rob Houghton, chief information officer, said: “The Post Office is committed to investing in branch technology and we know many of you have been waiting for an update on this for a long time.

“We’re pleased to announce that in early 2017, we’ll start delivering newer and faster hardware to an initial group of 1,400 branches.

“This first phase will include all those operating mobile and outreach branches, which have unique kit and so need to be updated at the start of the programme.

Branches receiving new equipment as part of the first group will be contacted in early 2017.

Acting on feedback

Another suggestion on how the IT experience can be improved came from Alan Lusher, a contracts advisor at Chesterfield.

“It takes an age to get through the procedures at the start of an IT Service Desk call and I always have to spell my name at least twice. ‘Hello, how can I help?’ would be a great opening line,” said Alan.

Since then, the Post Office has updated the script used by its call agents and it now includes this suggestion.

Although they do still have to ask a number of questions to identify callers and get the details needed to help them, colleagues are working to do this as quickly as possible.

One also reported on improvements being made to the IT Service Desk as a result of the engagement survey. The regular satisfaction surveys run after a ticket is closed show early signs of improvements to waiting time, keeping callers updated about open tickets, tickets being closed prematurely and the language barrier.

There is some way to go, but the Post Office is keen to act on feedback, and aims to free up more time in branch in order to give customers an even better experience.

How have you found the new Home Shopping Returns process? Try it and email your views to