It has now been a year since the pandemic hit the world as a threat driving humanity to desperation. The recent figures announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that there have been 119 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3 million deaths. The numbers continue to increase across Europe and the globe, and the situation is still very worrying.
According to U.K. government figures, there have been more than 4 million confirmed cases, and the death toll has passed 125,000.
In Turkey, on the contrary, the situation is well under control thanks to close cooperation between relevant Turkish authorities.
The pandemic has proved that the world population depends on a robust postal network, both physically and digitally.
International solidarity and cross-border collaboration among industry leaders and stakeholders is now a visible need and requires effective liaising.
Disaster management and postal logistics planning should be the pillars of community-oriented strategies.
Flawless approaches questioning the nature of the postal service have been reversed with the realities brought by the pandemic. The postal service can no longer be considered traditional or irrelevant. It has always been a loyal companion to humanity under all circumstances.
The only thing is that it needs to be given the right mentality to address the challenges.
The Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT) is supposed to be the best and most trusted logistic service provider in Turkey. Its age-old history, rich and deeply rooted service tradition is full of significant achievements and innovations.
In the face of disruptive business circumstances, there is a clear need for a better focus combined with immediate and specific changes. It is, therefore, necessary to prioritize and take action for the implementation of such a strategy focusing on the internal market.
The key to lasting and profound changes is investing in the postal logistics workforce toward disruptive developments. Not only for the corporation but also for the sake of public peace, it is crucial to have well-qualified and trained employees with technical and practical abilities that may enable them to predict changes and challenges during hard times.
Also, being well aware of the social dimension of postal logistic service is a precondition to overcome any extreme events happening in the country. That will have a direct impact on managing the service flow smoothly in Turkey.
But the main thing is how to put such understanding into practice. Dealing with the needs of the people, both material and nonmaterial, without disrupting the service quality is a matter of skill and ingenuity.
We were not aware enough to see that the postal service cannot be limited to letters or parcels. When we look at the companies mottos operating in the industry, we will see short sentences consisting of one or two words that look simple but are extremely meaningful.
Why do we not having a similar understanding in Turkey? Why do we not see any mottos that say we do care about your parcel? That would certainly be a great start to eliminate dissatisfaction linked to the acceptance, shipping and delivery processes.
In Europe, with the pandemic, both sender's and recipient's concerns are now taken into consideration. High-ranking representatives of the companies have emphasized that any postal item, regardless of its type, will be handled with care.
For that reason, it is worth reminding ourselves again of the dimension of the parcel service channel that mediates people's physical and spiritual values, aspirations, sorrow and joy.
This reality has to be taken into consideration to provide people with better and more friendly service.
Besides, meeting the needs and challenges cannot be done by promising something. It can only be done by improving the existing service understanding, commercial transaction, network and infrastructure.
Any planning in this direction must be specific to Turkey and include the values of these lands.
The postal development index that rates the postal operators across the world gives significant insight into domestic service quality in Turkey.
When we look at the index of the last four years, it is challenging to see that Turkey ranked 48th in 2017, 42nd in 2018, 44th in 2019 and 47th in 2020.
Considering the commercial and economic potential of Turkey, supply chain disruptions have not been adequately understood and prioritized.
All components of the mail should already have been above or equal to the European average. It is, therefore, worth reviewing the current postal logistics service understanding and existing business strategy.
Turkey's ranking indicates and also reveals an unacceptable quality level and customer dissatisfaction. Any single letter, parcel or card should be accepted, processed, forwarded and delivered with care. It is all about handling the mail meticulously.
On the other hand, the dissatisfaction with the service delivery of private courier companies in the domestic market has become visible, and the PTT has the advantage to increase its market share by closing the gap in this area, which would be a return to essence.
In this context, every person who enters any PTT offices has value, and meeting their needs in the spirit of sympathy has to be the top priority.
Any postal item handed to the PTT should be treated with precision and be processed in a way that bears in mind both the sender's and the recipient's concerns.
That would be a significant contribution to social peace in the country as well. The way you treat people entering PTT offices will have an enormous impact on social harmony.
When people get services, they naturally expect their concerns to be taken into consideration. The explanation of any contrary attitude or treatment will not be reasonable and acceptable.
Any person who approaches any PTT service desk, no matter which part of the country they live in, is present there with a certain amount of money in their pocket.
While it is impossible to get free services, fair treatment in service delivery can have a huge impact. Is it necessary to say how easy it is to alienate people from services in the face of paid services or even to make them reactive to the institution?
For that reason, PTT offices should be approached as places to win over people.
The role of the postal service has been strengthened further with the pandemic. No doubt, it is now relative and indispensable more than ever. Besides, it is a driving force for national economies. Its importance has been reinforced further with tremendous financial power.
The financial capabilities of postal operators worldwide could be easily understood by looking at the December 2020 volume.
We see that the Australian Post made significant progress and set a monthly record by delivering 52 million parcels. The daily number of deliveries was around 2 million, and it provided services to 21 million customers in up to 4,000 workplaces.
DHL International GmbH (DHL), which is a part of the German logistics firm Deutsche Post, set weekly records. The last figure was 61 million. The Dutch postal company PostNL announced that the daily parcel volume had reached 1.7 million. The Belgian Post said it processed 650,000 parcels daily, a 165% increase compared to last year. The Finnish Post announced 7 million parcel deliveries in December 2020.
La Poste France set a record of 4 million parcel deliveries in one day. The Italian Post announced 1.5 million parcel deliveries daily. Last year, the rate in the same period was 1 million per day. Correos Spain confirmed 34 million deliveries in December.
The Austrian Post announced that parcel volumes increased by 25% compared to last year and rose to 1.3 million daily. It delivered 165 million parcels in the whole of 2020. As an example reflecting the business volumes of private courier companies in Austria, DPD Austria processed 57 million deliveries the same year.
The Swiss Post announced 7.3 million parcel deliveries just in one week in December. It has consolidated its position as the leading service provider in Europe with its continuous development over the past seven years. The number of parcels processed in 2020 was 182.7 million.
As can be understood from the numbers and volumes, the parcel industry has an enormous potential to provide operators with robust economic income. It also shows that the postal and logistics sector has offered the opportunity to generate more revenue with the pandemic, and there is even more to come.
What is missing today is something required to reveal the strength and under-explored potential of the PTT in the domestic market.
The PTT has to do its part since Turkey's future goals necessitate implementing such a strategy as the only priority. The home for Turkish post is Turkey, not elsewhere.
*Ph.D. candidate at Yıldırım Beyazıt University
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