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Building Tomorrow's Infrastructure

Special Delivery

Deploying Japan’s postal system in Myanmar

IF you send a letter from anywhere in Japan to another address within the country, it will arrive in approximately one day, clean and free of damage—just like the day it was sent. The outstanding speed and accuracy of its postal services serve as a good example of how reliable Japan’s infrastructure can be.

Efforts are now under way to bring Japan’s postal system to Myanmar. The Republic of Myanmar and Japan entered into an agreement for postal cooperation in April 2014. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is managing the core of the project, with Japan Post Co., Ltd. (Japan Post) dispatching specialists to Myanmar to determine a timeline with workers from Myanma Posts and Telecommunications. Following onsite observation and surveys, the actual coaching for the project has begun.

A team of active and former members of Japan Post is assisting Myanmar in maintaining proper collection and delivery flow, drawing from their own experience. Following a few weeks of guidance, they’ve returned to the country at regular intervals to check on progress, implementing guidance five times through November 2014 and dispatching twenty-five staff members for an aggregate of one hundred and thirty days.

Japan Post first set about thoroughly revamping the country’s delivery system for next-day and two-day deliveries. This required increasing efficiency of the process as well as managing time properly. The local teams now rely on a system dubbed “kessoku” (Japanese for “connection”) to manage schedules and prepare forwarding processes synchronized with when mail goes out.

They also implemented an approach that takes customer satisfaction into account. The same types of containers and shelves used to sort and store mail in Japanese post offices were provided to Myanmar, creating a more orderly environment and freeing up room by changing the office layout into a comfortable space for customers. A set of protocols for standardizing work and postal services was then used in conjunction with group training in customer service. Staff members have been trained to welcome customers with a smile and use the word mingalaba (“hello”), an equivalent to irasshaimase, the Japanese term used when greeting customers. When Myanmar’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology U Myat Hein paid a visit, he was delighted to see staff welcome him with this smart greeting.

Before long, the staff in Myanmar went beyond simply absorbing what was taught to them, actively voicing their own opinions. The goal was to use the central post offices in Yangon, Mandalay and the capital, Naypyidaw, as well as thirty-four model sites out of 1,400 offices across the nation to shorten delivery times by one day. With the careful Japanese coaching approach and the Myanmar team’s dedication, the accomplishment of this goal is expected.

Standardized protocols have also been designed to ensure a consistent level of service, allowing customers to get the same quality anywhere they go. Date stamps for three central offices featuring illustrated landscapes were also developed with the help of Japan Post’s stamp designers, targeting local tourism needs and promoting increased use of the post office and mail.
“Since delivery times have been successfully shortened, we wanted to go the extra mile and make the date stamps look nice,” says Keiichi Shirato, executive officer at the logistics and business sales division for Japan Post, showing his expertise in the “soft” infrastructure of postal services. “Since postal services are a key national infrastructure, we wanted to make them more reliable. Our goal is to share the expertise we’ve developed with Japan’s postal system, including transferring the mindset of what it means to work in postal services.”

If Myanmar’s postal services become more reliable, international mail from Japan will also arrive sooner, thereby improving the quality of Japan Post’s own services. Further, by gaining the trust of its citizens, Myanmar will be able to roll out other projects independently. Anticipating the synergy effect of such initiatives, Japan Post is hoping to actively partner with other postal businesses worldwide.

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