The position of the Post Office as both a physical and digital proposition offers consumers an integration of channels through which they can get the important things done. As part of our #InsideOut blog series, Post Office Communications & Corporate Affairs Director Mark Davies explains that as live experiences have prospered from the development of digital, not suffered, opening up face-to-face opportunities for consumers rather than closing them down.
Mark Davies's blog
Next week, a group of MPs is to question the Post Office about the Horizon system and the mediation scheme we set up to consider complaints about it received from a small number of mainly former subpostmasters. There is a background note about this process here.
The Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) committee meets regularly to hold inquiries about issues in their area – and as we are owned by Government, we are occasionally called to give evidence.
It’s a big few days for the Post Office. This weekend we launch our ‘We’re Changing’ campaign. Across the UK, billboards will be underlining what we’ve all known for a while: that our unique network is undergoing one of the biggest transformations ever undertaken by a major retailer.
We've just issued our annual results, and the unions and the National Federation of Subpostmasters have responded - just as they are entitled to do.
But they did make some points which just can't go unchallenged, particularly as in making them, they were able to grab newspaper headlines.
They said we were in crisis.
We're not. And saying so is simply damaging to every Post Office business in the UK.
The reality is that in a tough marketplace we are taking significant steps forward.
It's a tough question: what are the three things which capture the essence of the Post Office and its business? Or put another way: why does the post office exist?
We may have been around for centuries, but what are the defining features which capture our reason for being?
And why does it matter anyway?
Port Clarence Post Office branch sits in the shadow of the Transporter Bridge, which crosses the River Tees to link the area with nearby Middlesbrough. Alongside it is a health centre, a crèche, cafe and a training room grandly called an IT suite. Just down the road, past a row of boarded up houses, there is a small row of shops: newsagent, chippy and off licence. There isn't much else.
I'm writing this sitting on a train. The man next to me is watching a film on his iPad. Opposite a woman is reading a book on a Kindle and next to her another guy is listening to a podcast.
The digital world is almost everywhere - but it hasn't yet reached every home and while going online may be second nature to most people, there are still millions who lack confidence and skills in this area.
The lecture theatre at the offices of the Royal Society of the Arts, just off the Strand in central London, has an impressive series of paintings dating back centuries. The building itself became the RSA’s home in 1774, making it just a little bit younger than the Post Office.
It is a time of great change for the Post Office, with new services, longer opening hours and a fresh look across thousands of our branches in communities across the UK. Only last week we announced the extension of Post Office current accounts to more areas, for instance.
We want to secure the future of the Post Office, so as part of our new approach we are modernising our retail offer. We are rapidly adapting to the challenges of the digital age and offer more services on-line and via apps, while at the same time focusing even more acutely on the needs of our customers.
I started today shouting at the radio. It was early, and as the presenter speculated on the prospects for Royal Mail he talked repeatedly and mistakenly about the Post Office and privatisation. It’s a common mistake – muddling us up with the Royal Mail. And one we as a communications team need to eradicate from the airwaves and newspaper columns.
Today we have a great chance to do that – because today is a really big day for the Post Office.
About the author
Mark Davies - Communications & Corporate Affairs Director
Mark joined Post Office Ltd as Communications Director in July 2012 after two years as Communications and Campaigns Director for the charity Rethink Mental Illness. Prior to that he spent five years as Special Adviser to the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the House of Commons and the Ministry of Justice. He worked as Special Adviser to Baroness Amos, then Leader of the House of Lords, for 18 months in 2004-05. Mark began his career in journalism in 1990 and during 13 years as a reporter, writer and editor he worked for the Liverpool Echo, the Liverpool Daily Post, CNN and the BBC