AdWeek Europe: Post Office CMO Pete Markey Has Something To Write Home About—An Improved Customer Experience

AdWeek Europe: Post Office CMO Pete Markey Has Something To Write Home About—An Improved Customer Experience

Customers see queuing as the norm in the Post Office. But the venerable U.K. institution has put a stamp of approval on change.

The Post Office is a British institution. It’s the U.K.’s second most trusted brand, serving 18 million customers a week. It’s also 370 years old, and with that comes a lot of challenges.

That was the starting point for Post Office CMO Pete Markey’s session at Advertising Week Europe on “Putting the Customer Experience Centre Stage.”

People’s perception of the Post Office is of a place they need to go to get things done, and where queuing is the norm. The business sells 132 different products, including mortgages and loans, but, according to Markey, its 4 million active customers have an average product holding of 1.2.

Markey began by asking what the brand’s purpose was.

“The first question is why you’re there, what you’re there to do. Our mission is to help people get the important things done.”

Markey believes that “customer experience is the new branding.” He argued that brands are made up of four elements: communications and storytelling; products and services; people and culture; and environments and channels. Most marketing teams, he said, tend to stick with the first of those elements, but to build a brand, marketers have to work in all four boxes.

“You can’t just communicate your way out of a problem,” he said.

To demonstrate this point, Markey explained how he took four branches onto his department’s P&L, to use them as labs for transforming the customer experience. The changes have included different sections for specific services, such as travel money; easier access to staff; dedicated self-service areas; improved signage; and better posters promoting other Post Office products.

“We’re changing branches and things are getting better,” Markey said “We’ve also re-oriented the website around the mission of getting the important things done, and we’ve seen a 50% increase in digital sales. Then our content strategy flows out of knowing our brand purpose. It’s been interesting to see what we have permission to talk about—present wrapping, for example, and travel tips.”