Recalling the social nature of Turkish postal services

MEHMET ŞÜKRÜ YAMAN
Published 26.04.2019 00:04
A Turkish postal stamp depicting some of the vehicles used by the Turkish Post since its establishment.
A Turkish postal stamp depicting some of the vehicles used by the Turkish Post since its establishment.

The role of the postal services in today's societies is of great importance for both international and national institutions dealing with social and financial inclusion. The nature of the post overreaching ages, the spirit of serving the community under all circumstances, the unique feature that lies in the formation of nations and being the companion of humanity add another dimension to our thinking on the role of the post in terms of innovation, integration and inclusion.

There is the significance of postal services on one side and life changes brought about through this unique channel on the other. In the beginning, the main target was to build physical bridges between people; this connection has never lessened over the course of time, and today we are embracing the new face of postal services driven by today's advancement in all-pervasive technologies. Thanks to this evolution, post offices are not only key institutions for a successful and smooth transition to a knowledge-based society but also its economically and socially sustainable future. Based on this capacity, it is claimed that a fully transformed postal system could not only remain relevant but also take a leading role in the 21st century. At this point, there is a need for governmental, financial and social authorities to focus more on this but more importantly, the social dimension of posts has to be revealed first.

One thing that does come across clearly is that despite the stunning speed of digitalization and substantial developments in information technologies (IT) in the 21st century, the majority of the global community still suffers financial and social difficulties.

As a result, financial and social inclusion have become high priorities for postal administrations.

Similarly, national governments, the U.N. and its specialized agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), think tanks, academic institutions, universities and related foundations are searching for common solutions that may serve humanity as a whole.

In this sense, if we consider the enormous capacity of the global postal network, 670,000 post offices and 5.3 million employees, we can easily see that it could help in identifying common problems and their solutions. Boosting the development of e-commerce, raising the overall quality of services, ensuring financial and social inclusion, developing digital services and reaching areas affected by natural disasters are a few global solutions delivered through the post.


A Turkish postal stamp published for the 150th anniversary of the Turkish Post.

Turkey-UN joint project

In this context, it can be said that solutions do not always need long-standing research or endless negotiations requiring huge amounts of money. The active collaboration of Turkish institutions at the national level and their cooperation with foreign authorities and related U.N. organizations is an example to have concrete policies and implementations through the postal network.

So as an example, the Turkish Post Corporation (PTT) and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) worked together in humanitarian support by providing financial aid through the Winter Support Program for refugees and asylum seekers residing in different parts of Turkey in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

Although there are leading global companies in the Turkish market, this job could be only done by the Turkish postal service due to its extensive branch network, last-mile delivery and distribution capacities. This example also proves the unseen side of Turkish postal services.

Turkey is providing shelter to the greatest number of refugees worldwide, generously hosting around 4 million. With this program, the only aim is to help desperate and vulnerable refugee families get through winter by providing them with a pre-paid PTT card from any PTT across Turkey. This debit card is preloaded with between TL 700 and TL 1000, according to the size of the refugee family. Thes​e specially issued cards are known as social cards, too.

The social face of the post

The capacity and effectiveness of the PTT matters. This is the other side of Turkish postal services that has been a good example of social and financial solidarity regarding the needs of refugees. It also shows that the social dimension of postal services is easy and an opportunity to overcome similar troubles across the globe.

Thanks to an already existing infrastructure and network, there is no need to invest huge amounts of money, and it has an extraordinary capacity to deal with unexpected and undesired natural disasters, as well. Only through the post can you reach people in such circumstances, which means saving money, being In the field on time and a timely response. It is worth remembering that the struggle of a unique, single post platform is almost over, but there is a new fight, a new challenge.

Now, it is all about seeing the invisible, hearing the voiceless and reaching the destitute. There are 2 billion people who are currently excluded from the world's financial system, which also subsequently triggers social exclusion. In other words, the global postal system aims to include those people in the world postal system, both financially and socially, by following the right policies developed by the right people and channels.

The Turkish Post has been serving the public for many generations and is now home to oppressed refugees and other asylum seekers from neighboring and other countries. It is therefore not only making a significant contribution to the Turkish community but also building peace and social harmony beyond the country's borders.

The humanitarian approach of the PTT toward refugees can be considered an impressive social responsibility project, and it should be promoted worldwide to encourage such initiatives. The post is not only the trust that ensures connecting people but also the spirit of building bridges between nations and countries. In this way, the PTT proves its inclusivity and rich capacity.

In addition to that, bringing people together, serving them on a regular basis, hosting them in its workplaces in every corner of the country, visiting them in their homes and dealing with their needs permanently in a sincere way is not an easy job, but the PTT is doing it every day with great passion and determination.

Promoting quality

Nowadays, it is worth recognizing the PTT's quest to further promote this connection and raise the overall quality of postal services. Besides, the projects for kids and young people are very well thought out to ensure the sustainability of core values. In a similar manner, the Turkish Post has the sympathy of the elderly, the most valued asset in some aspects. Most of them are alone and live alone.

Although they have kids and relatives, they consider the post and the state their families. This is not something that can be explained easily. They always remember the post and the state in their sayings and prayers. This is unique to the PTT. In Western countries, postal administrations have already started to develop special services for the elderly, in the U.K., France and the Scandinavian countries in particular.

From this point of view, though the PTT is making great strides to ensure the commitment of the young population, it should not forget the needs of older citizens, too. This is not a responsibility but a must to be recognized by the right experts. Taking all this into consideration, the PTT has to focus on adding a greater social dimension to the identity of postal and logistics services in Turkey.

Technical developments as well as great advances in communications and IT have changed almost every part of daily life for people, their habits and their ways of communication. Experts believe misuse of the internet and technology might have a major negative impact on humanity, a possibility that should not be ignored by the families and policymaking institutions in Turkey.

Moreover, there have always been disputes over youth rights or the position of women in society, which brings about terms such as social state, social community and social peace to mind. Technology and the internet definitely play a critical role in this regard. But, if it is all about reaching people via the optimal channel, there is an urgent need for tomorrow's planning, and the post shall be very well-positioned in it so that it can continue to carry national values into the future.

The unique connection between the post and people is a known fact in many ways, facilitating the interaction between the people and the state, helping the community, forming a livable environment and a promising future. The PTT contributes to the community in a meaningful, sustainable and constructive way.

Solutions for today's problems

Being one of the most important dynamics of national infrastructure for almost 200 years, the PTT is already prepared for the challenges posed by today's advances in digitalization, e-commerce and IT. Elderly-specific services, the new PTT Cafe concept targeting the hearts of the young population and cultural activities for kids are key social dynamics of the new PTT. It has to be remembered that the Turkish Post has a mission to be Turkey's most trusted and respected service brand.

To do this, it is essential to establish a sincere and competent corporate culture that will support its employees, so they can provide exceptional service to customers. This is the top goal of the Turkish Post while moving forward on the way to becoming the most important, efficient, secure, inclusive, cohesive and dynamic postal service provider.

It was once said that if any postal corporation has to live long, the major share of its revenue has to come from logistics, parcels, e-commerce operations and investment in the form of technological upgrades and the upgrading of human resource skills. The Turkish Post has made impressive and deep inroads in these directions coupled with the diversification of its business, which in itself is a great step forward.

* Employee at the Turkish Post, Ph.D. candidate at Yıldırım Beyazıt University

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