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How does the French post office help local communities in France?

PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 March 2019

La Poste offers a diverse range of services © AtanasBozhikovNasko Getty Images

La Poste offers a diverse range of services © AtanasBozhikovNasko Getty Images

AtanasBozhikovNasko

Long gone are the days when the French post office was just used for posting letters and packages. It now offers a diverse range of services from banking and food delivery to taking your written driving test

The French post office, known as La Poste, with its distinctive yellow and blue insignia, has its origins in the 17th century, but has seen significant evolution since the turn of this century when the postal system in France was opened up to competition. While resisting outright privatisation, primarily due to pressure from postal employees unwilling to lose civil servant status, La Poste operates now as a profit-making company whose shareholders are 100% public investors, including the French state as majority shareholder.

La Poste has turned itself into a multi-activity organisation, but continuing to play to its traditional strength as a key service provider within the local community. Today, it employs close to 250,000 post men or women (facteurs/factrices) who, combined, come into daily contact with around 65 million people across France. You can now look to La Poste for banking services, advertising, food delivery, energy-saving advice, mobile phones and even as somewhere to take a written driving test.

Community services

The postal service in France today serves as a trusted point of contact with the local community, far beyond its origins of delivering post. In the modern world, it aims to be the leading network for connecting local services, thereby maximising the potential of its daily contact with customers. For rural areas, and in particular for the elderly community, the postal group offers a range of valuable services:

Veiller sur mes parents is a bespoke, holistic service designed to reassure families that elderly members living at home are safe and well. The service includes up to six home visits per week, as requested, a telephone emergency alarm and assistance service, and a service that will put you in touch with trusted local handymen for rapid home repairs. Each visit or intervention is reported back to the family, plus family members are contacted immediately for any minor emergencies or problems.

Medical help in the home – in June 2017, La Poste acquired a majority stake in Asten Santé, a company specialised in providing medical care in the home for the elderly and people suffering from chronic illness, operating in more than 40 departments across France. The move is in line with the group’s increased focus on service provision for the ‘grey economy’, or ‘silver économie’ as it’s called in France.

Driving tests – La Poste is now a registered state partner for the provision of written driving tests, an alliance which has greatly simplified access to obtaining a driving licence as most of its post offices offer this service. Previously, there were only a handful of licensed centres in each region, creating unacceptable delays for those wishing to sit the exam. It is also now possible to obtain vehicle registration documents (la carte grise) at the post office, rather than visiting the local préfecture.

Fast food delivery – the Post Office bought an 80% share in Resto-In in 2015, a business that delivers food orders from participating restaurants to your door. Later, it also launched Chronofresh, a fresh food express delivery service via Chronopost. Available to businesses and individuals, Chronofresh promises delivery of fresh food, in isotherm containers transported in refrigerated vehicles, before 1pm on the day following your order. La Poste hopes to build on the growing trend to order in fresh food from local producers, thereby keeping the food chain short and eating healthily. Delivery via Chronofresh also guarantees food traceability.

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True to its six historic values

Playing a key role in social cohesion has always been a part of La Poste’s history, it goes with the job. As such, there are six historic values that guide the group as it goes forward.

• Being open-minded about changes in society and being ready to listen to customers to better understand how their needs are changing and finding solutions to adapt to these needs.

• Showing consideration and respect for customers and partners.

• Treating everyone fairly and knowing how to respond with equal attention and efficiency to many different situations and requests.

• Ensuring accessibility for all customers by being available when and where needed (via post offices, online, telephone services), providing information in a clear, comprehensible format and offering affordable services.

• Approachable – listening to customers, discussing and respecting their needs.

• A duty of service – serving the client is at the heart of all the group’s services and procedures.

Group structure

Having chosen to retain the emphasis on its community role across a broad spectrum, Groupe La Poste is divided into five principal subsidiaries, each with a specific focus but also sharing specialist expertise:

Services-Courrier-Colis (post and parcel delivery services) - this is the traditional postal service reinvented for contemporary society.

GeoPost – is La Poste’s global fast-delivery parcel service. It has more than 820 hubs worldwide and more than 26,500 relay pick-up points in 19 countries across Europe.

La Banque Postale – the banking arm opened in 2006 and currently has around 11 million customers. It offers elementary, low-cost banking services, making banking more accessible, particularly for younger and more elderly customers.

Réseau La Poste – there are more than 17,100 post offices or contact points throughout France. At the post office, you can access all the group’s commercial offer, including banking and postal services, express parcel delivery, plus the web and mobile telephone services. In communities without a post office, you can usually find an appointed sub-post office to access La Poste’s services or at the very least a parcel collection point.

Numérique – this is the group’s digital branch which is responsible for developing La Poste’s own transformation into the digital age (tablets are available in all post offices) as well as taking on a role in helping other areas of society to move more towards online autonomy, including the sale of specially-designed tablets for the elderly.

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