We want our Postmasters to know that we have learned from past mistakes and see the benefits of changes we are making following the judgments in the civil and criminal courts.
Although today’s Post Office is very different from the past, restoring the trust of Postmasters will take time. This isn’t about quick fixes, but fundamental changes in every part of the organisation, reviewing every process, procedure and policy.
We are on that journey and over the past two years we have delivered a series major cultural and operational improvements to right historic failings and ensure that we are fit for future. These are based on Postmaster feedback and have taken part in every part of the business – from initial training through to daily transactions and accounting.
In addition to the changes to our culture (which you can read about here), some of these milestones to improving our systems and processes include:
- Launching a cross-functional programme to replace our Horizon IT system with a new branch system that will underpin the future of our network. Built with Postmasters, for Postmasters, this will be faster, simpler and more intuitive to use, designed to make running a post office and serving customers easier.
- Standing up a new field support structure comprising nearly 100 Area Managers across 12 regions, to ensure Postmasters have a clear point of contact with the business and can receive face-to-face support, whether that’s rolling-out a new product or overcoming a problem in branch. In addition, each region of our branch network is now supported by a team of business support managers, onsite trainers and audit colleagues to serve our Postmasters.
- Introducing an improved training offering with longer classroom-based training sessions, as well as increased materials available via an online platform (Branch Hub). This ensures that Postmasters and their teams are properly supported in how to operate their branches.
- Launching a programme of branch-specific surgeries to help Postmasters optimise the profitability of individual post offices. These ‘Branch MOTs’ are proving successful and popular, and continue to take place – with over one in four Postmasters have received a MOT to date.
- Focusing on creating a Postmaster-centric organization structure by bringing many Postmaster-facing teams into one place to provide a more seamless experience for Postmasters. For example, this has improved the support provided to branches via the Branch Support Centre and means more calls are being answered overall and average waiting times have been greatly reduced.
- Raising awareness of Post Office’s ‘Speak Up’ policy and encouraging Postmasters to use it, if ever required.
- Making a huge number of small but important changes to make the lives of our Postmasters easier day in, day out. The following are some key examples of policy and process changes:
- Established Postmaster Support Policies. All colleagues who deliver against the Postmaster Support Policies have received training on the policies themselves, while Postmasters have received a ‘Postmaster Guide to the Policies’ to be transparent about the policies that Post Office has in place.
- Launched Branch Hub, a self-service interactive portal for Postmasters that is available 24/7 and supplements the Branch Support Centre for Postmaster initial support. Branch Hub also allows Postmasters to complete some tasks that were previously only available over the phone (e.g. stock ordering) and to get more insight on the performance of their branch through the Branch Insight Tool.
- Share Horizon errors with Postmasters through Branch Hub to ensure they can access the support they need.
- Changed Postmaster onboarding processes to improve the speed and ease of onboarding for new Postmasters.
- Introduced new dedicated Issue Resolution and Complaint Handling teams.
- Introduced the ability for Postmasters to ‘dispute’ their trading period balance through Horizon and have their dispute investigated by Post Office. (See the process on the chart below.)