Another customer service improvement opportunity

Since we live in Australia, we use Australia Post to deliver our mail.

We have generally been really happy with them, even if we take them for granted.  So when our mail seemed to be disappearing in the post (someone chased up an unpaid bill, two organisations seemed to fail to send us things) we didn’t believe it.

Eventually my wife noticed that some days no mail came when she was expecting quite a bit.  She then noticed that our mail was on the front lawn once and in our garden once.

So we ontacted Australia Post.  They told us that we had a bad letter box and that we needed to replace it.   Apparently, as they understood it, postal workers in Australia only need to deliver mail if they can do so one handed.

With our bad letter box it was necessary to lift the top up and put mail in the box.  So we were told to repair this and things would be fine.

However we decided to lodge a formal complaint and a request for a two handed postman.

Mail kept disappearing and we were told that it would take some weeks to investigate our complaint.

Eventually, I got a phone call from my wife that helped explain what might be a contributing factor.  She was watching the news on TV and saw a report about a mailman being arrested.

The news report went on to say that the mailman for (our supburb and two neibouring ones) had been arrested because he was not delivering mail.  Police had investigated after a wave of complaints from residents and had found that the postman had simply taken the mail home on several occaissions.  He appears to be disturbed rather than fraudulent because 5,000 letters were found unopened in his house.

Apparently (we think) he just went home when he was having a bad day.

We thought this was a reasonable explanation, but we thought that the post office should now get back to us to let us know they were closing our complaint and had rectified the problem.

But there was one more twist.  We wondered if the mail the police found would now be delivered or if it would be tied up in the court system as evidence.  We also thought it would be good to have a letter from Austalia Post letting us know what happened so if we have someone upset with our lack of response to them, we can give them a copy of the letter to back up our hard to believe claim that “your letter probably got lost in the mail”.

Sadly this is where Australia Post let us down.  Unfortunately they are not able to confirm that our complaint was rectified, nor that there was any police incident.  They have been told that they cannot say anything about a potential issue.

They did let slip that they have no intention of cataloguing the letters that were alledgedly at the postman’s house because its not their problem.  But even when told that they are now discussing details of a case they claim not to know about they said they suddenly remembered that they know nothing about it.

So … no letter of explanation …. no apology … no helpful tip on how long it might be before residents get their mail … and no notification to those who did not see the news.  If our neighbours are upset with some company for failing to send them a promissed letter then Australia Post are hoping they never work out the postal system is at fault.

We would not have sued them for an apology and if we were going to sue them then we still would, using the court case where a postman was charged as strong evidence that mail did not get delivered.

A little accountability and a short explanation would probably have given us and our neighbours a lot more confidence in Australia Post.  Instead they have decided to let the neighbours gossip about missing mail and postman being arrested until the story grows and their brand cops a lot of damage.

I am sure that Australia Post have a highly paid PR team that are much more experienced with these things than I am. but now each time we see an ad for the post office or we here someone talk about them we have a story to tell.  And it is not the “They are so good that the only time they mucked up they actually wrote to us because they were both surprised and concerned” kind of good PR story that it could have been.


About James King

I coach organisations in how to better make use of the untapped talent they have in their people and to explore new ways of understanding and solving new and old problems I live in Sydney with my wife and daughter and have no real hobbies beyond the usual boring ones of reading, writing and watching tv.
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