Ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday (8 March), we catch up with Postmaster, Andrea Loakes, whose branch was in the top 10 when we focused on our customer experience for Love Your Customers week (10-14 February). Andrea runs the single counter community Post Office in West Runton, North Norfolk, in our East of England region.
During Love Your Customers week, 92.5% of our customers who shared their feedback rewarded the brilliant customer service provided by our Postmasters and branch teams with an Extra Mile.
How do you feel about West Runton branch making the top 10?
We are very proud. We always try to give excellent customer service, and our customers often tell us that they love coming to our Post Office, but to have an official confirmation that our customers are delighted with us goes a long way.
Over the last year, we’ve brought together retail and Post Office in our branch, which has made a real difference. Post Office now benefits from retail and retail benefits from Post Office, while our customers benefit from both.
What do you think you do to offer a good customer experience in West Runton branch?
Give the service that you would like to receive yourself and be consistent. Be Kind. Listen to your customer. Give them time during their transaction to feel that they have understood and completed everything properly – we have a lot of older customers and rushing them can confuse them.
Smile – many new customers expect a visit to the Post Office to be stressful. They might appear initially grumpy because they are being defensive. A smile and a clear explanation of their options usually breaks down barriers and they relax. Often these customers return time and again because they are not made to feel stupid if they do not know exactly what they are asking for. We build relationships with our customers so that some grow from a single stamp purchase to doing their business banking and postage every week.
Did you do anything differently in West Runton branch during Love Your Customers week?
We made the decision to actively ask every customer for feedback that visited the Post Office. Even if they just came in for a stamp or a bank balance.
What advice or top tips can you offer on providing customer service excellence?
Be consistent. Give the same good level of service to everyone. Learn their names if you can. Have a joke with them if you can. Know your products and be able to talk about them if needed – or use the customer referral service for more technical enquires. Most of all, be kind – many visits to the Post Office are someone's only human contact that day. We see people for many reasons. We celebrate their good news with them, but we are also there when sad times come and life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, just knowing that their paperwork is being posted safely, that the contents of their bank account are safe by a simple balance enquiry can really make the difference to a customer's day.
Here is a selection of positive customer feedback received by Andrea and West Runton branch in Love Your Customers week:
- The Post Office at West Runton is second to none. The service from Ms Loakes is faultless and I am always made to feel like I am the only person she has served that day!
- This village Post Office is the community hub of the village. The Post Office staff do everything to make one feel welcome and wanting to return. The atmosphere is very friendly but efficient...
- I know I speak for all of my village... We are truly blessed to have this most fantastic Post Office. Not only is our postmaster Andrea incredibly knowledgeable, her pastoral care, especially with the older customers, is exceptional... Thank you West Runton Post Office.
- The staff are always friendly and make it a pleasure to stop by to send a parcel or card and to draw money out too. I know that many holiday makers comment on how they like to visit our local Post Office and store as well.
- Extremely friendly and welcoming whilst being efficient. They are the hub of our village, caring about their customers. You never leave without a laugh and a smile on your face.
- This particular Post Office is a boon to the whole community, with excellent and very helpful staff – Andrea is a brilliant postmistress… The Post Office counter is the best… Excellent service always and incredibly helpful advice. Clear information and options explained in easy to understand language. I don't know what we'd do without it!