How does a business that is both government agency and subsidiary of a profit-demanding global corporate culture survive and thrive in the ever-competitive delivery marketplace?
Canada Post is meeting the challenge of its dual identity by transforming how it markets via improved customer relationship management (CRM).
With roots dating back to the 18th century, Crown Corporation's Canada Post is an Ottawa-based, government-owned $5.9 billion (Canadian) postal company that serves the country's 30 million individuals and more than 900,000 businesses and public institutions. The company's business of distributing some 10 billion messages and parcels is carried out by 63,000 full- and part-time employees through 25 major plants and other facilities, delivering to more than 13 addresses as well as through 20,000 retail outlets. In addition, Canada Post's global reach includes forwarding more than 37 million pounds of mail to foreign countries.
Despite its long history and deep market penetration, by the 1990s Canada Post faced increasing competition from aggressive independent carriers that were targeting specific business sectors. Also, the company lacked deep knowledge of its customers, tended to focus on technical processes to improve internal operations rather than address customers' needs, and offered products that were not appropriately priced. The resulting erosion in market share meant Canada Post had to act quickly to become more customer focused and create a more successful future.
To start the journey toward becoming a high-performance government agency, Canada Post teamed with Accenture to transform itself into a customer-focused business supported by superior CRM capabilities. Since 1990, the two companies had partnered in designing and implementing IT, HR, and other systems and process improvements at Canada Post. The company also chose Accenture because of our industry-leading expertise in marketing, and deep skills and experience in deploying CRM capabilities to enhance the bottom line.
In the first phase of Canada Post's transformation to a high-performance customer-centric government agency, the project team jointly developed a vision for the new marketing organization, including best practice market processes and an efficient operating model to support a new customer-focused market orientation. The team also set significant goals for improved process performance, increased customer loyalty, stronger competitive position, greater profitability and increased employee performance.
Using this high-level plan, the team completed detailed design in phase two by setting up the new marketing organization's governance approach, identifying opportunities, and designating tools and infrastructure required for implementation.
The team also considered marketing's major activities and determined how they should interact with internal corporate sales, service and fulfillment. Based on this data, the team aligned the marketing organization around customer segments—rather than products—to provide seamless interaction in retail, face-to-face, Web and third-party channels.
Throughout each phase, Canada Post and Accenture relied on an interactive process that included one-on-one interviews, one- and two-day workshops with marketing's leadership, and surveys of senior marketing managers. Feedback from key internal stakeholders allowed the team to develop an effective marketing vision and mandate as well as an innovative CRM plan and model. It also ensured critical internal buy-in and helped overcome the significant challenge of helping employees accept and adapt to changes resulting from CRM.
In phase three, the team operationalized the high-level plan's model by providing best-of-breed tools and templates designed to guide the marketing organization's process owners. The team also developed cross-functional workshops that were held for business process owners outside of marketing.
The project produced important benefits such as improved working relationships between business units, increased internal communication and a strengthened transformation steering committee through the addition of the company's vice president of sales. Also, cross-functional working sessions increased, and the project team developed nearly 300 processes with corresponding jobs and positions.
This is helping Canada Post reap the rewards of high performance:
For its efforts to become a high-performance organization, Canada Post received the prestigious Gartner Customer Relationship Management Award, which the leading research and advisory firm created to recognize companies demonstrating excellence in CRM. Canada Post competed against more than 190 companies across three continents for the award, which is based on eight criteria: vision, strategy, customer experience, organization, metrics, processes, information and technology.