Pushing for excellence
We spoke to Ms Neo Su Yin, CEO Singapore, Singapore Post Limited on enhancing customer experience in the midst of the pandemic, using her soft skills to her advantage and the continuing journey to redesign the urban logistics landscape in Singapore.
You started at SingPost in 2019 and have climbed the ladder swiftly – what drew you to the postal sector and what has kept you there?
Personally, what attracted me to SingPost was not the sector itself, but I saw it as an opportunity to improve the customer experience (at the time when I joined) and push for operational excellence in a national entity that provides a public service for the country. As a public postal and courier service provider, SingPost used to be perceived as lagging behind its tech start-up competitors in the area of last mile delivery. With my previous experience, I saw the opportunity for Singpost to enhance its user and customer experience in last mile delivery, with plenty of growth and development potential to win in the e-commerce space, given SingPost’s strength, scale and reputation in Singapore.
You are used to being highly ranked – first as a Lieutenant Colonel and now as CEO – what obstacles have you had to overcome being a woman?
I have spent most of my professional life working in male-dominated organisations, given the operational nature of my past roles. Through the various roles I held, I felt I had the natural flair for running manpower-heavy operations with large teams to manage. I have learnt to use my soft skills to my advantage, through working closely with my team on the ground to win hearts and minds. As a female leader, I was very aware of the challenges and biases when it comes to leadership perceptions, particularly if I am firm, tough, or assertive. As such, I balance the need for professionalism and making tough decisions with a feminine touch through my personal interactions with my team, and this balance has guided my leadership style even up to today.
How will your experience in customer experience be important in your new role?
Customer experience has become the core of many consumer-facing businesses today, guiding companies on how their strategy and operations should evolve. Customer experience is a holistic concept; it does not just focus on external customers, but it also takes internal customers (i.e. fellow staff) into consideration. While it is important for us to stay competitive in creating the best experiences at all our customer touchpoints, it is equally critical to equip and best position our internal stakeholders in their daily work processes, so they can in turn serve the company’s customers well. As such, one key focus I have in my new role is to continually review both our internal business processes and improve the customer experience for my team. This includes investing in innovation and continuous improvement to produce more efficient and productive operations. On the customer fronting touchpoints, we will continue to collect and leverage insights from the customers, so we can continue to enhance on our touchpoints, create better UI/UX both online and offline, all aimed at meeting the needs of our customers, so that we strengthen the brand loyalty and trust.
What would surprise people about SingPost?
We have one of the largest population-to-postman ratio in the world. For a resident population of over 5.6 million people living in 1.5 million households, we only have a strength of 1,000 postmen serving the country, delivering about 1.5 million items a day. That translates to every postman serving about 5,600 people in Singapore!
How is SingPost balancing the customer’s desire for speed and convenience with the demand for more sustainable delivery?
Over the past years we have been investing in two areas: physical infrastructure such as parcel lockers and smart letterbox technologies, as well as conversion of our delivery fleet to electric vehicles. The expansion and innovation of our physical delivery infrastructure will provide customers with more delivery options, such as self-collections and drop offs at a location convenient for them. More importantly, providing self-pick-up options reduces the number of delivery attempts for our delivery team, thereby reducing carbon footprint as well.
In line with Singapore’s push towards more environmental-friendly vehicles, SingPost has also started a pilot of using electric vehicles in 2021. We also intend to progressively switch our entire internal combustion engine fleet of more than 700 motorcycles and three-wheeler scooters, as well as 140 vans, to electric motor equivalents over the next five years. This makes us the first postal service in Asia Pacific to commit to a 100% electric delivery fleet. On top of our push towards EV, we are also taking proactive measures of achieving efficiencies in our operations and properties, including working with partners and through our supply chain for a collective whole of ecosystem emission reduction effort.
How popular is PUDO in Singapore?
PUDO has been on the rise before the pandemic, although it was not the preferred mode by many customers. However, since the pandemic we have seen PUDO gaining strong traction, as customers prefer contactless delivery channels. For instance, in 2021, we saw a four-fold increase in the number of self-collection of items from parcel lockers. We also saw an upturn in locker utilisation, as more parcels flow through these lockers instead of being delivered to the doorstep.
How has SingPost helped the community during the pandemic?
Throughout the pandemic, SingPost has partnered with both the Singapore government and local companies for nationwide distribution of pandemic-related essential items. Apart from delivering ART (Antigen Rapid Test) kits for Singapore’s Ministry of Health, we have also partnered Temasek Foundation (a non-profit organisation under the philanthropic arm of the Singapore state sovereign fund Temasek Holdings) for distribution of masks, pamphlets for collection of hand sanitisers, and mouthwash over the past two years.
The nationwide distribution posed its own challenges owing to the scale of the exercise. For instance, for the most recent ART distribution exercise, our 1,000-strong postman corp had to deliver the items to over 1.5 million households in Singapore within a relatively short period of time on top of the peak period delivery volumes. This means scheduling additional delivery hours over the weekends for the team. Through the several distribution exercises, we learnt valuable lessons that helped us enhance our operational capabilities and addressed gaps that we observed.
How has the perception of SingPost changed since the pandemic began?
There has been an increased outpouring of tributes and appreciation of our postmen and staff through public feedback and tokens of appreciations through these two years, as well as an increased level of advocacy we observed online.
What has been the reaction to the SingPost app for mail?
The feedback and reaction to the SingPost app have been very encouraging. We have seen good take up for the SingPost app in recent months, particularly with the recent nationwide deliveries of the ART kits. Through the app, we were able to notify residents on when they can expect their kits to be delivered. As of the last quarter of 2021, we have seen an uptick in the number of monthly active users for the app, with a significant number of users linking their household details to their app in order to track the deliveries of the ART kits from the government. In time to come, we envisage the SingPost app to be an essential tool for residents living in Singapore, whether is it providing useful and timely delivery notifications when they have mail or parcels coming to them or providing a secure platform for customers to transact and interact with us through the app.
What are you looking forward to achieving at SingPost in 2022?
We will continue striving to uphold the strong service quality standards that we have built over the past years. Our team has come a long way to establish trust and reliability, and we understand this does not come easy. In the meantime, we also want to continue our journey in redesigning the urban logistics landscape in Singapore through both innovation and digitalisation. As an essential public service provider, we want to keep our spot as the nation’s preferred delivery partner of choice.
About Ms Neo Su Yin
Su Yin was appointed as Chief Executive Officer, Singapore on 1 November 2021. She joined SingPost in April 2019 as Vice President, Customer Experience, lifting SingPost’s service quality and customer experience for post and parcel delivery services. Since January 2021, Su Yin has undertaken the management of the domestic post and parcel business, as well as driving the transformation strategy for the Future of Post. Su Yin has more than 20 years of experience in operations and customer experience, from her time in both Changi Airport Group (CAG) and the Republic of Singapore Navy. Prior to joining SingPost, Su Yin was General Manager at CAG, managing the ground operations and customer experience within the terminals. Before CAG, Su Yin had a distinguished military career with the Republic of Singapore Navy for 17 years and held several key leadership roles, including commanding officer of a warship. Su Yin was a Singapore Armed Forces Merit Scholar and holds a Master of Science (2nd Upper Class Hons) in Occupational Psychology from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. She is also a graduate of the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island, USA.