First by horse, next by ship, then by plane. Since its inception 200 years ago, the Australia Post has served to connect its citizens to the rest of the world. But these days the state-owned postal service is also a digitally savvy e-commerce driver and player, intent on building a single client-based ecosystem where it knows customers’ interactions in the digital environment.
CMO.com APAC spoke exclusively to Darren Boyle, Australia Post’s head of digital performance and analytics, who also will be speaking later this month at Adobe’s Digital Marketing Symposium, in Sydney. Boyle has been with the organisation for nearly four years and is responsible for driving its digital experience into the future for its customers.
CMO.com: Empowering Australians to communicate is one of Australia Post’s core tenets. What are some of the challenges the organisation faces to make this possible?
Boyle: Digital disruption. Our core function is the delivery of letters, which drives around 1 billion AUD in revenue, but unfortunately it costs us more to fulfil the function than the revenue it generates. This year Australia Post is going to lose a considerable amount of money in our core letters business–a trend that has been occurring globally. If anything, Australia Post has done a good job of maintaining this revenue stream, but digital disruption is really hurting the organisation. The decline in the letters business is swamping the growth in the parcels business. We’re having to find new revenue streams.
CMO.com: How do you create an organisation that can deal with new challenges as they emerge?
Boyle: There are a couple of ways we’re looking to do that. We have our core IT that’s very large-scale and is considered in deployment, versus some of our digital teams that use a very lean methodology. So there’s very quick iterations, data-led decision making, and lots of pivot points. We’re really trying to have lean development, particularly in the digital space.
We are also looking to invest in our infrastructure. We’ve got two new parcel sorting centres, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. This allows much greater availability of tracking and parcel sorting, which then allow us to build digital products and services on top of that for our customers.
CMO.com: How do you capture user experience and integrate it into the design of new services?
Boyle: We have a multifaceted environment. We have a central customer experience team that looks at products and services from a holistic view, and then a team within each one of the channels. In the digital environment, we have our customer experience team, we do ethnographic search, i-tracking, three or four rounds of design, design thinking, and then we’ll loop these results back into the customer experience team to make sure all the channel touch points are aligned.
CMO.com: How do you create functional feedback loops that enable you to respond to information that is relevant?
Boyle: Great question. The answer to that are multiple sources of information. We have an enterprisewide MPS-gathering feedback tool that looks at all the interactions across multiple channels at an enterprise scale, and then each channel has their own feedback loops. It’s then a question of trying to pull all that information into one feedback database that everyone can access.
CMO.com: Do different departments look at different elements of the data?
Boyle: We’re trying to get as much customer feedback as we can. There are still multiple data sources, but we’re attempting to get it all into one central store of data so individual departments can go and look at their sections.
CMO.com: What is “digital experience” and why is it an important concept for Australia Post?
Boyle: We’re really moving away from product and product design. You need to think about the end-to-end journey a customer is going to go through, so it’s a question of why are they coming to your digital environment? For example, rather than just designing a beautiful website, look at it from the view: What is the customer coming to your environment to do? Ask what products and services are going to be relevant to them based on who they are, and then serve them that content and experience.
CMO.com: Where does mobile fit into your overall approach?
Boyle: Very strongly. Half of our traffic is coming from mobile devices. We’re a mobile-led company. With all the new experiences we’re designing, we look at mobile as an integral part of that. We’ve got mobile apps, we’ve got mobile specific websites; all the new experiences we create in our digital environment are as mobile-friendly as possible.
CMO.com: Is there still a strong requirement to provide a traditional website interface rather than focusing on a mobile-first approach?
Boyle: Given the demographics of the people that come to our digital environment, I would say no. It goes back to our core brand tenet of being relevant to every Australian, every day. We do get a very significant proportion of visitors to our digital environment through the mobile channel. We must present an experience relevant to the customer on the channel they choose to come through. Mobile is very key, even though we’re not what I’d call a traditional e-commerce vendor.
CMO.com: How has mobile shifted your thinking in terms of the way people use and access Australia Post as a service?
Boyle: Our Apple Watch app is a reflection of the shift. Designing experiences for smaller and smaller screen sizes really gets you to focus on what’s important to the customer, what they are coming to do, and what I need to tell them.
CMO.com: What role does personalisation play in Australia Post’s overall ethos and approach?
Boyle: Personalisation is becoming more and more important to us. We have the MyPost brand where there’s a very strong drive to have a known user experience and flow where we capture relevant information from the customer to provide them with a more targeted and tailored experience–both physically and digitally. The more information we can ascertain from our customers, the more we can tailor the message to be more relevant to them.
CMO.com: Do you expect customers to identify themselves, or is the onus on you to know who they are?
Boyle: We’re attempting to get customers to log in more, so it’s beholden on Australia Post to provide more utility as a known user. Anyone who logs in to MyPost as a known user will get additional products and services, or additional detail that an unknown customer can’t get.
CMO.com: What issue, challenge, or technology do you believe you will be looking at in two years’ time?
Boyle: The big focus is to build the digital engine, the digital ecosystem, to allow us to capture data and information on our customers; to then respond in multiple touch points across multiple journeys for our customers interacting digitally; and build a core cloud-based ecosystem that will be key to Australia Post and its e-commerce agenda.
There are a couple of other macro ones from an organisation point of view, such as building out our network and having a world-class infrastructure and parcel delivery network. This then requires pulling all our data into a single repository so we have a view of our customers and the omnichannel touch points we have with those customers.
CMO.com: You are referring to “hyperpersonalisation”?
Boyle: I wouldn’t say hyperpersonalisation; it is more about starting to join the dots. Most of the people who go into our post office, we don’t know who they are, and this is also the case in our digital environment. It is a matter of bringing it all in together. We have a lot of touch points with our customers, but they’re disjointed. We need to bring them all together and then use that information to deliver better and more tailored experiences to our customers.
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