The postal service has always played a significant role in the day to day lives of Turkish citizens and continues to do so. It would be almost impossible to imagine going about our days without it.
With 4,500 service points and around 45,000 employees, it is one of Turkey's biggest and best networks.
But there is more to it than this, the Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT) always begins the day with a positive attitude and dedicated commitment to making everyday life a little easier for the people of the country.
Its employees, network and infrastructure are the main components that together ensure results. It is impossible for a postal operator to develop without skillfully managing these elements in the most effective manner.
Needless to say, a permanent monitoring system should be put in place to protect these vital pillars of the Turkish postal service. Or, in other words, the board of directors needs to strategize ways to maximize the effectiveness of this mechanism.
When it comes to postal logistical services, there will always be room for improvement to better serve the Turkish public.
The postal service is just as important as other public institutions. Thus, its top management and decision makers need to start believing in the power of altruism has in tapping into the potential of both its employees and its services through sincere, positive, professional and inclusive intellection.
The more you focus on the existing situation, the more you learn about your operating system, without cost. You do not need to invite an outsider to explain your own service chain to you or simply to take a picture of your company.
It is true that the pandemic has deeply affected people from all walks of life regardless of geography. But it also offered moments of opportunity and has had its positive consequences, too.
Not long ago, executives at public institutions devoted more than half their working hours to bilateral visits to no one's benefit but their own.
The pandemic put an end to this luxury. It is gratifying to see this change, for the public's sake. We also witnessed important field visits to professionals, namely health workers and postal staff, who cannot work from home.
Here, we touched on several issues to be considered and responded to when proposing a strategy for postal reform in Turkey.
The aim is to draw attention to PTT's service points and the services it offers by applying a critical and constructive approach. It is worth emphasizing these issues are being raised to be constructive and should not be taken as pure criticism.
On Sept. 24, 2020, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu made a field visit to the main post office in the northeastern province of Rize. He posted a tweet with some photos as a sign of goodwill and appreciation.
The tweet says: “We met with our friends in our PTT Rize main branch. I want to thank our PTT employees who worked with great dedication and served healthily and reliably during the pandemic. We owe them a lot.” The director-general of PTT and the company Twitter account both also shared similar messages.
PTT Rize Merkez şubemizdeki arkadaşlarımız ile bir araya geldik.⁰
Büyük bir özveri ile çalışan, salgın döneminde sağlıklı ve güvenilir şekilde hizmet veren @PTTKurumsal çalışanlarımıza teşekkürlerimi sunuyorum.
Onlara çok şey borçluyuz. pic.twitter.com/P5nNVqZmBp— Adil Karaismailoğlu (@akaraismailoglu) September 24, 2020
PTT's corporate account, in a related tweet, shared: “We would like to thank our Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Mr. Adil Karaismailoğlu, who honored us by visiting our Rize PTT Center, which provides services to our customers with its texture that combines tradition with the future.”
The aspect of the postal service mentioned below has yet to be properly assessed and taken into account. It is necessary to examine this significant and extensive deficiency at the highest level.
We live in an age where European postal operators and logistics giants work around the clock to modernize their service points, workforces and networks.
It is time to renew our determination to make headway in this direction. The time has come for ministers and decision makers to look closely into these dynamics and to get seriously involved in the process, which currently is not perceived well.
PTT management had the opportunity to get to know the current business climate and learn from the atmosphere brought on by the pandemic.
With the number of pointless bureaucratic visits slashed as a result of the pandemic, members of the PTT board and management can now get to grips with matters as individuals and professionals. They now have the opportunity to devote their time to remedy the situation, which in turn will generate positivity, returns and contributions for PTT, the employees and the public.
Any attempt other than this will prove futile in addressing these kinds of shortcomings and glitches. The postal service in Turkey needs real experts; not bureaucrats, executives and employees with dogmatic minds.
Millions of people are already familiar with PTT services and service points. However, a substantial number of Turkish citizens do not have in-depth knowledge about the postal service, including the difference between centers and branches.
The PTT service points are classified as centers, branches and agencies. Before digging into the subject, it is important to touch briefly on agencies.
These units offer more specific services and can be found in both urban and rural or outlying areas per universal service obligations.
The social and financial role that is fulfilled by these service points is of vital importance to the socioeconomic cohesion of the communities. That is to say, branches are naturally a part of the PTT service network.
On the other hand, the amount of information on centers and branches is almost infinite. As we do not have any specific objective to fit them into the terminology of postal service, it is possible to define them in a way that citizens can easily understand.
The central office is designed and equipped to serve as a main unit and business center to receive citizens, customers and visitors to make postal, logistics and postal financial transactions.
It has a large team consisting of core staff, a security guard, an accountant, a chef and a manager. Both the center itself and its entire staff are fully capable of performing all tasks.
It is, therefore, impossible for citizens to leave these service points without achieving what they intended to, unless there is a technical glitch. As the central unit, it also manages the material needs of all subbranches.
Branches differ slightly in definition from centers. It is almost inconceivable to think that the branch has limited-service delivery. Business travels in different parts of the world, and regular annual meetings of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) since 1874 provide the PTT employees and senior executives an invaluable opportunity to become more closely acquainted with this reality.
The branch is relatively smaller than the center and consistently lacks in terms of personnel and space. The working conditions in office branches need to be examined with sensitivity in order to better cater to the community.
In this sense, regardless of their type, PTT service points need reform and must adapt to stay competitive and profitable. To achieve this, having qualified people around to bounce ideas off is essential.
Lasting success ultimately depends on employees and managers who are able to uphold work ethics and business conduct under any given circumstance.
Reform does not entail making periodical changes to the organizational chart; it is rather about investing in service points, receiving and delivering processes and personnel as effectively as possible.
The administration must commit to bringing out the potential in postal staff by putting forth a sincere, positive and inclusive attitude.
In short, every PTT branch offers all kinds of postal financial services. The services offered in centers are provided by the branches, too
How public awareness should be raised in this regard is an important issue, but it is easy to find the best solution.
What must not be forgotten, however, is the need for improvement in the physical structure of the branches and the number of personnel.
Karaismailoğlu's tweet is a turning point in this respect. The tweet indicates that he visited a center, in other words, the largest post office fully operational in the city where citizens can access every service.
As can be seen from the pictures taken during the visit, the central post office is designed with the new PTT concept, where no citizen will be leaving the premises without having their needs met.
However, based on the reality revealed by the tweet, it is unfortunate to see this approach to management has become stereotyped over years of immutable nonfunctionality.
The proper management of the institution and the transformation of the workforce and workplaces are a sectoral necessity.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The photos taken from several different angles enable us to make a proper evaluation. The focus is the photo in front of the cargo counter.
As is known, the cargo and postal counters in centers are separated due to the volume and density of transactions. In some centers, only one counter is responsible for both cargo and postal services.
The physical structure of the center or branch is directly related to the number of personnel. The situation at the center visited by the minister seems to be somewhat complicated.
It is worth considering the two papers (notes) attached to the glass of the relevant counter. The first informative message says “Cargo Counter,” and the second one is complex enough to warrant developing a new corporate strategy, reading: “Incoming cargos do not come to this branch. It's in the Harbour Branch. Only letters and PTT cards come to this branch.”
The newly designed cargo acceptance section indicates that the central office collects parcels. On the other hand, despite the evident importance of the new investment in the center, the informative messages make it unclear what each counter is responsible for.
According to the statement on the counter, people can send parcels but are unable to receive them. In other words, the relevant counter acts as both parcel and postal counter during the acceptance process. And when it comes to deliveries, it is only a postal counter. It does not provide people with a parcel delivery option. How come?
The more regularly it is able to collect parcels, the more naturally it delivers in the same service point. It is needless to say that all PTT service points are the primary channels for acceptance and delivery.
Although the relevant statement is attached to the counters of many service points with careless and imperfect knowledge, it is a bitter reality to see that these omissions and deficiencies in question have not been addressed.
We need to be aware of the fact that people, especially those of a certain age, consider the PTT a part of their lives. There is no acceptable justification to limit the public's access to the vital service.
It must be understood that these sorts of statements, which may have been informative in aim, do not meet market requirements nor corporate principles.
What about visual pollution? Instead of plastering these confusing warnings to service counters, there must certainly be a better way to inform citizens about the developments in the realm of the postal service.
Each service point, large or small, is designed and equipped to be fully operational. How can we explain the lack of certain services?
Every service point in Turkey has signs indicating that service is available. It also means that the PTT is ready to deliver even a simple letter to the receiver regardless of location.
These observations and findings are real steps forward and, when fully understood and implemented, will raise the level of service the Turkish public will receive.
Despite the global health challenges and restrictions we are facing, the PTT remains committed to serving the nation.
We are at a time when Turkey needs its postal operator more than ever. It is for that reason that we must take the needed steps.
*Ph.D. candidate at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University, Employee at Turkish Post
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