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WHATEVER IT TAKES Marietjie Lancaster, Group Executive Strategy at the South African Post Office speaks with Erica Wark about how the company continues to place customer care as its No. 1 business priority.


SA Post Office FEATURE


roviding service where most won’t, and consistently striving to create easier systems for communication, I was keen to find out about the latest offering from the South African Post Office (SAPO) to enhance communication and lifestyle in the country. SAPO has always been innovative in its efforts to answer the needs of the South African public. Going far beyond the reach of competitors – who will only operate in areas of high profit – in the past people have questioned the cold-cut business sense of the sheer breadth of services at SAPO. However, if we take a look at the philosophy behind the company then perhaps we can better understand its consistent efforts to extend its reach of services in catering for the South African public.

Mission Statement “We will enable the nation to efficiently connect with the world by distributing information, goods, financial and government services; leveraging our broad reach and embracing change, technology and innovation”

Vision Statement “To be recognised among the leading providers of postal and related services in the world.”

Company Culture and Customer Care SAPO is a corporate company with shares, but the shares are 100% owned by government. This means that it adheres to both corporate and governmental laws and is very reliable. The issue which I’ve touched upon, of Economic sustainability (vs) Universal service obligation, is not a topic of debate when you look at the company profile in this light. As SAPO is 100% government owned, it is necessary that it renders a service in even the very remote parts of South Africa, where it is quite impossible to make a profit.


SA Post Office FEATURE

SAPO is very dedicated to trying to meet the needs of the country, and gains feedback on its service from customer satisfaction surveys, after which it puts in place measures to remedy any areas in which the public perceive it to be ‘lacking’. This survey is not just a one off gesture, it is carried out every two years and is an integral part of business development and customer care. SAPO recognise that what is contained within any given letter or parcel could change an individuals life, and as such, SAPO take its 4

responsibility to the public very seriously. The slogan on its branding reads “We deliver, whatever it takes” – which perfectly encapsulates the dedication and commitment to the vision and mission statements. An uncommon thing, and I feel very special offering.

Far more than mail… Most of the technological advancements in South Africa are in fact pushed by the Post Office.

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SA Post Office FEATURE

SAPO’s commitment to customer care can be seen in the breadth and reach of its services expanding into areas where the government finds it hard to put infrastructure in place for example: You can now pay your annual car licensing fee at the Post Office. “Hybrid mail”: The latest innovative service that SAPO are bringing out is Hybrid mail; this will enable even easier access to the postal service. You can simply email a message to a hub at SAPO, where it will be printed and posted for you! SAPO also provide a number of Online Tools, such as the phone directory, and even down to


catalogued detail of the history of the postal service… from as far back as the year 1500! You can literally dip into each year, as if discovering ‘time capsules’ from the past, for example: 1500- 1652 : During this period, the crew of ships travelling to or from the Orient past the South coast of Africa, placed letters under postal stones, hoping that they would be found and delivered by other ships. The necessary information such as the date, name of the ship and its captain, were carved on these stones. The letters were occasionally wrapped in waxed canvas and, apart from the address, the letters DGG were written on them – for Door God geleyd, or ‘Guided by God’.

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SA Post Office FEATURE

Thankfully, the service has become a little more sophisticated since the stone system of the 16th-17th Century! …but it’s a fascinating read, and a testament to the dedicated culture of the company.... if they go to this effort to catalogue and track letters back to 1501 then it gives me great faith that they’ll keep a track of my parcels in 2010 and beyond!

Corporate Citizenship at SAPO In the continued sentiment of care for all of the South African public, not only do the Post Office endeavour to ensure their mail services are available to the entire country, moreover, they are also highly involved in Corporate Social Investment initiatives to reach out to disadvantaged individuals and communities. The Corporate Social Investment initiatives are aimed at benefiting economically disadvantaged people that fall within the women, youth and the disabled segments, with a bias towards rural and peri-urban areas. In ensuring that beneficiaries receive the maximum benefit from our investment, we work in partnership with communities, not for profit organisations and like- minded organisations to offer integrated sustainable solutions. The primary focus of our corporate citizenship is to empower people to ensure sustainable and lasting development. Our areas of investment include; poverty alleviation, digital inclusion, environmental sustainability and HIV and AIDS. Our employee volunteerism program serves to enhance the reach and impact of our investment. The South African Post Office seeks to make a positive contribution to the people and the environment in which it does business. The corporate value of contributing positively to communities and to the environment guides the organisation’s Corporate Social Investment strategy and our employees’ response to socioeconomic and environmental challenges faced by disadvantaged South Africans. For me, the advantages of using the South African Post Office, as opposed to any other competitors, are clear: 8

Ease of access to facilities Additional services all under one roof The breadth and strength of network means I can always depend upon them to deliver Longevity of service proves them to be reliable, Backing of being 100% government owned meaning security for the future Commitment to adapting their service offering to satisfy the changing needs of their customers (eg though hybrid mail.) But perhaps you’d like to see something else from the South African Post Office? Look out for the next customer review, or get in touch now with your ideas and suggestions… Answers on a postcard, people…. Oh yes, or via hybrid mail! Visit to access a host of Online Tools and to find out more about how the South African Post Office can support you. END

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