March 20, 2018

Are Kiosks Suited To Your Post Office?

Postal

Unexpected item in the baggage area? We all love self-service… when it works.

Whether it’s self-checkouts when shopping¸ train ticket machines, or ATMs in banks, self-service is almost everywhere.

How about the Post Office?

In 2016, USPS generated $462.8 million in revenue from 2,835 post office self-service kiosks.

As part of strategic transformation plans, we’re seeing other Posts turning to self-service kiosks to increase consumer convenience, optimize efficiencies, and transition to digital platforms in wake of the current eCommerce boom.

So, what questions should you be asking if you’re considering putting a self-service kiosk in your lobby, agent network, or in an external location?

 

Extend the Postal Network

Everyone’s busier than ever.

Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t have time to visit the post office – but still need access to postal services.

In response, Posts are extending the network by deploying self-service kiosks in convenience locations.

Agent networks, typically a convenience store or retail outlet, provide a low cost extension while offering a range of postal services, often out of hours. These serve the needs of time-pressed customers who don’t require counter assistance or can’t visit during regular working hours.

 

Increase Consumer Convenience

Self-service offers an opportunity to attract new consumers.

When done right, it improves the consumer experience and gives them the empowerment, convenience, and flexibility they want.

Self-service kiosks remove the frustration many consumers experience with having to wait in line or shoehorn a visit to the post during a busy day. Frequently available out of hours, kiosks provide customers with a convenient alternative to the counter, offering a range of services for transactions including:

  • Avoiding waiting in long lines
  • Perform shipping and mailing activities, such as weighing packages or envelopes
  • Printing postage, shipping labels, and receipts
  • Purchase retail items

For Post, the challenge is to deliver self-service kiosks that are quick, hassle-free, and convenient.

To achieve this, Posts need to understand:

  1. What do customers expect from self-service kiosks? This involves talking to consumers, analyzing the feedback, then using this to design the consumer experience at the kiosk.
  2. What tasks do consumers perform? Examine the most frequently performed tasks and see how feasible it is to migrate these to kiosks.
  3. What frustrations do consumers experience at the post office? Understanding the root cause of different issues will help shape the self-service experience. 

 

Empower Consumers To Perform Self-Service Activities

Know that sinking feeling when you get stuck waiting in line? 

Using self-service kiosks, consumers can skip the line and complete transactions at their own convenience

But how about consumers that can’t get to the closest post office between 9-5?

Increasingly, Posts are offering out-of-hours services to consumers.

This allows consumers to pick up and drop off parcels at their own convenience at easy-to-access locations either during or outside the standard Post Office opening hours. This leads to more frequent visits, opportunities to upsell/cross sell - all leading to increased revenues.

 

Reduce Manpower and Streamline Operational Costs

As part of staff optimization plans, Posts are using self-service kiosks to align employee with core business objectives.

Automated self-service kiosks help release employees from time-consuming processes, enabling them to give greater attention to more strategic tasks.

Also, as we use less cash, many transactions can be performed at self-service kiosks, enabling more urgent, high-value transactions to be prioritized at the counter.

 

Increase Digitization of Manual and Paper-Based Activities

In line with digital transformation, Posts are digitizing “physical” products and manual process by developing a portfolio of digital services, including self-service kiosks.

By digitizing paper-based activities, Posts can reduce overheads, minimize manual input errors, and enable consumers to avail of services faster. Digitization also reduces costs related to paper-based activities, such as shipping, storage, printing, and recycling.

Self-service kiosks perform double duty by increasing the floor space while also serving as attractive, modern signage. Centrally managed, it’s always up-to-date, offering consumers promotions and special offers when they enter the lobby.

 

Capitalize on eCommerce Opportunities

eCommerce has never been simpler. We’re sending and receiving more parcels every year.

As each parcel needs to be weighed, packed, shipped, and tracked, Posts can capitalize on this trend by deploying self-service kiosks. For buyers and sellers, simple-to-use and efficient self-service kiosks make eCommerce transactions more convenient.

For example, USPS provide an Automated Parcel Drop (APD) self-service machine that allows consumers to mail pre-paid and merchandise return parcels. Consumers scan the package's pre-paid label barcode, deposit it, then collect a receipt with the scan date, time and tracking information.

 

Summary

In the past, self-service had a negative connotation. It was poorly designed, unfriendly, forced on consumers. That’s changed. Self-service is now about giving consumers the flexibility to access and use postal services at their own convenience.

Of course, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Implementing self-service kiosks correctly involves researching and planning — so consumers feel confident using your services. It’s about prioritizing their needs, then giving them more choice.

Escher recommends Posts consider five areas when implementing self-service kiosks:

  1. Align self-service initiatives with organizational goals
  2. Identify measurable, successful use cases
  3. Involve business users with designing, developing and supporting the kiosks
  4. Develop an onboarding plan to help guide business users get up and running
  5. Location, Location, Location

Self-service kiosks will change how you interact with consumers. Creating a great kiosk experience will empower consumers to use your services, recommend them to friends, and create more revenue.

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