After discussions with all the cantons there are already 3,854 access points available to customers across Switzerland. By 2020, there will be more than 4,200. Furthermore, additional services such as cash inpayments at the front door have been introduced and the range of services offered in the agencies has been expanded. In the long term, the postal network of the future will comprise between 800 and 900 traditional post offices. After extensive discussions with cantonal authorities, the national list already comprises 765 guaranteed post offices. These will not be reviewed before the end of 2020. Further additions will follow to ensure that the postal network will comprise the promised 800 to 900 self-operated post offices in the long term. Unbiased dialogue will now be engaged in with municipalities in order to determine in detail the best possible solutions for the population and their needs. Where it comes to converting traditional post offices, an alternative solution will always be offered. Branches will not simply be closed without any form of replacement.
As announced in October 2016 and explained regularly in a transparent manner ever since, Swiss Post has held two stages of discussions with all 26 cantons and noted their concerns and expectations regarding the structure of the postal network. Particular attention has been paid to regional political considerations such as spatial planning or mobility flows. In the course of this process, Swiss Post has established which post offices should continue to operate as before until at least 2020.
Postal agencies offer advantages by staying open twice as long
The partner branch format is experiencing very positive development. Postal agencies, as they are called, are located in existing village shops, bakeries, tourist offices or municipal administrations, and are particularly appreciated by customers due to their long opening hours and the associated flexibility. The integrated post office counters cater for 97 percent of all postal services. Letters and parcels can be posted, consignments collected and stamps bought, for example. Cashless payments can be made with the PostFinance Card and standard debit cards; cash withdrawals of up to 500 Swiss francs can also be made with the PostFinance Card. From September 2017, it will also be possible to drop off bulk mailings in postal agencies to meet the needs of associations and SMEs. Customer reactions are extremely positive, and working with partners is seen as a great opportunity for the local retail sector in particular.
Cash in payments at the front door and a significant increase in the number of access points
In October 2016 Swiss Post announced plans to extend the number of its access points from around 3,700 to over 4,000. These include postal agencies, My Post 24 terminals, acceptance and collection points and other service points, which are constantly growing in number – by 2020 there will be over 4,200. Today the number of access points across Switzerland has already risen to 3,854 with the introduction of new service points such as My Post 24 terminals, acceptance and collection points and business customer points. The cantons were once again asked to give their opinions on regional needs. As well as increasing the number of access points, Swiss Post is also expanding its services, particularly in localities with partner branches. From the beginning of September 2017, cash inpayments at the front door will be introduced in areas that only have partner branches, as is already the case in areas with a home delivery service. It is not possible to introduce cash payment transactions in partner branches, however, due to current anti-money laundering requirements. As a result, and thanks to the expansion of services in partner branches, Swiss Post meets the fundamental political requirements with regard to payment transactions and SMEs. Further increases in services for SMEs in areas without traditional post offices are being reviewed.
Swiss Post takes regional needs very seriously
The dialogue now being initiated with municipalities will be unbiased. Not all the post offices to be assessed will be converted into partner branches or home delivery services. Swiss Post examines each post office on a case-by-case basis. It is essential for Swiss Post to retain a degree of negotiating freedom during the dialogue process. This freedom allows Swiss Post to take additional regional requirements and special features into account in the dialogue with the municipalities. The population will also be given transparent information. Since the beginning of the year Swiss Post has invited members of the local public to an information event whenever a post office has been converted into a partner branch.
Nationwide provision of services and high quality at all times
Swiss Post guarantees the nationwide provision of high-quality postal services for the population at all times – be it with post offices, partner branches, other service points, or with digital products. The quality of Swiss Post’s services and the density of its network are among the best in the world. This was shown once again by a recent study conducted by the Universal Postal Union as well as in PostCom’s annual report. Switzerland’s population and its politicians have understandably high expectations of Swiss Post. The postal network will take into account the widest possible range of needs, whether in terms of mobility, spatial planning or demographic development, or the requirements of cities, conurbations and rural areas. Providing a high-quality universal service is only possible if formats and services can be developed, however. Cementing the postal network is not helpful and, at the end of the day, would be detrimental to all our customers. Furthermore, Swiss Post is and remains one of the largest regional employers, offering more than 18,000 jobs in rural areas.
Swiss Post implements change in a socially responsible manner
Swiss Post is structuring the transformation of its postal network as socially responsibly as possible. Several measures have already been taken and initiatives launched to allow the affected employees to find alternative employment within Swiss Post, to complete advanced training or to access external opportunities, for example by setting up a jobs website with offers from inside and outside the company. Redundancies should be avoided as far as possible. Naturally, a redundancy plan elaborated with the social partners has been made available to the employees concerned. Swiss Post is also maintaining its usual dialogue with the social partners and of course continues to abide by the agreements set out in the collective employment contract.
Very high customer satisfaction values
Digitization has resulted in considerable changes to people’s requirements. The needs of today’s Swiss Post customers are much more varied, and Swiss Post must and should try to accommodate these new requirements and habits. This is the only way in which it can ensure long-term success and offer extremely high-quality services throughout the country. For years, postal deliveries and Swiss Post products and services have been rewarded with very high satisfaction values (80 out of 100 points) by private and business customers each year. It remains Swiss Post’s stated goal to make life as easy as possible for its customers by providing them with flexible services.
The development of the postal network in years to come will depend on future customer behaviour, volume trends and local variations. The fact is that revenue at post office counters has decreased by 65 percent for letters, 46 percent for parcels and around 40 percent for payment transactions since the year 2000. This trend is continuing. Swiss Post has spoken out clearly in favour of a network made up of self-operated postal branches, and there are currently no plans to rescale the number of post offices. The future development of the mix of access points will continue to depend principally on demand and on customer requirements.
Source: Swiss Post