How Australia Post is innovating from the inside out
When organisations commit to innovation, the first place they typically think about innovating is for their customers. The obvious thought is around creating a shiny new product or service - because in so many organisations, innovation still equals a new product.
The most innovative companies don’t stop at the customer. Instead, they take a holistic approach to innovation. It isn’t just about the customer; it’s also about innovating the work environment so that staff are inspired to innovate and create.
After taking some of Inventium’s clients on a tour of Silicon Valley last year, it became clear that the world’s most innovative spend as much time obsessing about the internal employee experience as they do about the customer experience.
For example, many companies in Silicon Valley have implemented unlimited paid leave policies, on-site masseuses, and mobile laundry services – all aimed at making one’s experience at work a whole lot better.
So when Australia Post – one of Australia’s oldest organisations - called to invite me to tour their new Customer Experience Centre, I was initially sceptical as to what I would find. Let’s face it - Australia Post is an organisation that has not previously been synonymous with innovation.
Video: We open on a scene of the exterior of Australia Post’s headquarters on 111 Bourke St in Melbourne.
Text: Dr Amantha Imber, Innovation Psychologist, inventium.com.au
Video: We cut to a new scene of two men in conversation in an office environment. The next shot is of the backs of two people seated in a lounge area. Shot of a woman in lounge area. A white box appears with the words:
Amantha: Hi there, my name is Dr. Amantha Imber and I’m the CEO and founder of innovation consultancy, Inventium, and I’m here today at Australia Post headquarters learning all about what they’re doing in the digital transformation space particularly excited to hear about innovations they’ve been working on.
Video: Cut back to Amantha in lounge area
Amantha: So come on let’s go!
Video: Amantha walks down a corridor Wide shot of a room with computer screens. Wide shot of a woman touching a screen.
Text: Andrew Schmidt, Trusted eCommerce Services
Andrew Schimdt: This room really is to provide an immersive experience for our customers so we can show them all the things our Digital Delivery Centre is coming up with and really embed them in the products and services that we will now bring to market. So we have a range of commercial data that we do share with customers.
Video: Close up of Amantha listening to Andrew
Andrew: Types of people living in the areas the ways to market to them, Internet usage, all those other things. And that’s in part is what this room is for.
Video: Wide shot of Marra Saly and Amantha in conversation.
Text: Marra Saly, Product Specialist, Trusted eCommerce Solutions
Marra Saly: So this product came from a need from our customers. It was a pain point they were feeling when they were moving houses and for them to be able create another channel has made that capture much much easier.
Video: We return to Marra talking to Amantha.
Text: C.O.A.N Change of address notification
Marra: Products like this and our C.O.A.N service and our Digital iD really start to change the way we’re perceived, not just internally but with our customers as well so they select the number of months they’d like their mail redirected then put in their redirection dates of when they’re moving.
Video: Close up of a hand using a touch screen to demonstrate how to sign up for C.O.A.N. Cut to Amantha watching the demonstration
Marra: They put in their address details so their old and their new address, as you can see and then it’s a simple matter of actually selecting the organisations that they want notified. And as you can see they’re listed down here. All they need to do is click which organisation they want and they’re done.
Video: Montage of girl going through the process of applying for a passport.
Text: Nicholas Tomaras, National Industry Sales, Trusted eCommerce Solutions
Video: Wide shot of Nicholas Tomaras speaking to Amantha
Nicholas: So we currently facilitate quite a number of transactions in our retail network and Digital iD helps us to take that friction away from consumers who typically might require a visit to our retail store on a Monday for a particular verification purpose. So the concept of Digital iD allows that consumer to build their ID out digitally and upload all their documents and store it securely and it enables them to interact with organisations interact with organisations in the digital manner and share their credentials as they choose. So it puts the consumer in control of their identity.
Video: Wide shot of Amantha and Regis Bauchiere walking to a table with coffee cups in hand
Text: Regis Bauchiere, General Manger, Identity Services, Trusted eCommerce Solutions
Regis: Security is definitely a key concern at Australia Post.
Video: Montage of person using the Digital iD platform to verify their identity
Regis: Digital iD is a platform that enables a consumer to verify their identity online and then offer the opportunity to store this verified identity in order to use it in a different context that will bring convenience and security at the same time which is a very important concern for users when they interact online. So today with Digital iD we have a unique opportunity to combine with the scale of our retail network enough in order to offer an original experience to our consumers.
Video: Wide shot of an office environment with a sign on the wall that reads ‘Innovative solutions changing the way you connect’. Wide shot of Amantha and Deanne Keetelaar taking a seat opposite each other in lounge area
Text: Deanne Keetelaar, General Manager, Financial Services, Trusted eCommerce Solutions
Deanne: Future payments is about customer experiences where the transfer of value just happens. The Uber experience if you like.
Video: Montage of people using different services in a post office
Deanne: And so what we’re focusing on is leveraging the technologies – the digital technologies - that we have available to us and our new way of working which is an agile way to be able to deliver new innovative digital solutions to our customers that happens to have payments capabilities integrated in here in a seamless, in a frictionless, way.
Text: Claudette Leeming, Head of Workspace
Claudette: So OurPlace is a move to flexible team-based working here at Australia Post. So it’s a bit workspace change program. So it’s really about you walking in, working out what you need to do, who you need to work with, and then sort of moving throughout the day in all the different environments that we provide. Because work is constantly changing and so really what we’re trying to do is provide an environment that our teams can adapt and change to suit the way they want to work.
Video: Cut to Amantha
Amantha: It’s been awesome spending the day at Australia Post today and learning everything that they’re doing in the digital transformation space. Just think, it’s going to impact the lives of so many Australians in such a positive way.
Video: Australia Post logo
My tour started with looking at some of the digital innovations the team at Post has been working on. The first product I was taken through was Change of Address Notification – designed to remove some of the frustration that comes with moving house and getting your mail redirected.
It’s been about four years since I last moved house, but I very clearly remember the annoyance of having to physically go to a post office to fill in a paper based form to get it all sorted. And then there was the time-consuming process of letting all of the institutions I had a relationship with know about my new address.
Thankfully, those “manual” days are over, and mail redirection will become as easy as hopping onto Post’s website, entering your details, and ticking all the organisations you want to notify of your new address. Almost makes me want to move house again. Well, almost.
During my visit I also met with Regis Bauchiere, who joined Post from French identity solutions provider Morpho. At Morpho, Bauchiere worked on an Indian biometric digital identity solution which is now used by over a billion people. Bauchiere took me through what the Post team has developed in the digital identity space, aimed at removing friction in current identity verification processes.
Digital iD is a platform that allows consumers to verify their identity once and use their digital id via their smart phone to prove who they are anytime, anywhere.
For me, I often avoid changing service providers because of the time-consuming process involved in proving to a new provider that I really am me. It just seems easier to stay put, even if the service is woeful.
Ultimately, with Digital iD, I’ll be able to use my digital identity with all sorts of organisations, making the process of proving who I am much easier than it is today.
I also met with Deanne Keetelaar, who joined from NAB to lead the payments and financial services area. Keetelaar is working on launching a range of new services to help Australian businesses grow their eCommerce business and access new opportunities. This will be achieved by helping to make it easier for businesses to keep up with customer expectations and trade internationally.
Keetelaar talked me through their extensive range of payment processing, cash disbursement and financial transaction services that enable Australia Post to offer consumers more convenient ways to make purchases, pay bills, or deposit and withdraw cash.
But in addition to Post’s customer-focused innovations, I was able to witness the work being done on innovating the employee experience. The “Our Place” program is a huge undertaking to transform the work environment at Australia Post.
Interior Designer Claudette Leeming was hired to lead the Our Place project, which removes the more rigid, cubicle and office driven environment of the past, to one that is all about collaboration and mobility. Rather than employees feeling fixed to their workspace, the program encourages a more mobile mindset to encourage staff to move to wherever they are needed to collaborate with others on solving problems.
Rather than just implement the change in one fell swoop, Leeming designed a six-week experiment, which involved transforming part of head office into an environment that encouraged this new way of working. Leeming and her team spent many hours observing behaviour and getting feedback from staff. The feedback was then applied to iterate the design several times. The final workspace design is now being rolled out throughout Australia Post’s head office.
Given the traditional role Australia Post has played in the community, it’s encouraging to see that the organisation is developing innovative solutions to help solve real customer problems. Post’s approach to innovation is not merely about the customer but about a whole new way of working that encourages and supports its staff to be innovative.
(This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Dr Amantha Imber in August 2017.)