57 points by hhs 5 days ago
Due to an aging population, Japan has the “problem” of the police having little to do.
I think they could reroute them when time allows to do rounds on the elderly; checking up on them and doing small errands for them (coördinated via something elder accessible). I’m thinking things like prescriptions (if arranged for in some way), small groceries and such.
That sounds like a start-up idea. A network of vetted employees doing runs around the city taking care of elderly people. I'd expect their employees would be way happier than the average startup employee, it's meaningful work.
Not really startupy, it's a franchised business . There's not a whole lot to innovate here, unless you're going to match up unsuspecting elders with unlicensed, unscheduled local care givers through an app.
What may be startup like is that they did kind of pivot : initial service (and whole enrollment process) was targeted to the children who wanted care for their parents. When first elders came to the post office wanting to subscribe for themselves, subscribing was not possible as you can only subscribe for your relatives ... they since modified the service to address these very customers needs
For a startup you could also do just reputation, of caregiver personnel or local caregiving companies.
My company worked on designing this product. The decline of physical mail, combined with the high job security, especially in hybrid public/private companies like La Poste, lead to having to find new revenue streams compatible with the existing skillset of the employees. It started off quite slowly! But momentum is building up.
Happy to direct all questions to the team that imagined it!
I have a lot of exposure to this company and their employees, and you present something here that is quite far from reality.
The decline of physical mail is undeniable, but it's also La Poste that delivers the vast majority of the packages coming from e-sellers (and we all know that's just been increasing over and over). Also, the "high job security" you talk about does not exist in this company as pretty much nobody is hired as a "fonctionnaire" (a state worker) anymore, and it's been years now. The workers in La Poste suffer from a very high pressure from middle management who cuts jobs and readjust "tournées" (a mailman perimeter) incessantly, with the same "there's less work than before" excuse. The reality is that these people work more and more (significantly), work conditions are worsening drastically, and La Poste employees have one of the highest depression and suicide rates in the country (more than 40 last year declared in their farewell letter they committed suicide at least partly because of the job, I let you imagine how many more were not counted).
This new product (while I think it would be really great if workers had enough time and an appropriate training) is unfortunately just another way for the company - and it'd be fine if it were not, again, to the expense of the workers - to make more money. Implying the main reason is that workers just don't have enough to do anymore is just not fair.
I feel like the (very valid) points you are making, are not contradicting OP
He did not say the workers had less to do, he said the company had to find new revenue streams... Like you I support this initiative if it also includes employees wellbeing
La Poste is like France Telecom 10 years ago. The landscape is changing, it needs to evolve with the new world, provide new services, find a new place & role, hopefully keeping the values of public services. We know that the France Telecom => Orange turnaround was a business success at the expense of the health of many employees. I am afraid it will be the same with la Poste because of the same rigid management practices
> The landscape is changing, it needs to evolve with the new world
To be fair, this is not much the natural evolution of the landscape but the political decisions from the European Commission pushing on its “pro-competition” agenda.
 you may want to call it “neoliberal”, and you'll be right.
There was no explicit mention of "there's less work for them", but making the point of "workers with a very high job security" had (imo) no other purpose but to imply that those people are here to stay and that one has to find a way to make them useful (otherwise why bother mentioning that?). It was my reading of it.
Anyway, in case, I just wanted to expose those facts :)
Totally agree with your analysis about Orange.
> My company worked on designing this product.
When you say "this product" does that also include the electronic time-tracking on postmen which prevent them to talk with people for free?
Because most of this "product" formerly came for free when postmen had enough time and no constant spying on their movements. Them someone realized that elderly people complained about the lack of interaction with postmen and decided to make them pay for it. Is that what you call “designing a product”?
That has been my experience with this as well. It must be nice having an ad like this in the New Yorker but what is presented is pretty far for the truth.
The postal service used to be a corner of local life in the countryside. Postmen had the same "tournée", the list of address to which they deliver mail, for a long time, sometimes decades and mail was traditionally delivered by bike. As a result, they knew their customers. The figure of the local postman as a social presence is deeply anchored in French culture notably in popular songs.
This innovation is therefor less an innovation that a way of making people pay for something that used to be free. The reality of the new offer is that now the time postmen spend at each place along their distribution path is tighly monitored so that they don't stay too long with people who don't pay. It's not so much about introducing new care than about preventing free interactions.
Obviously it might not be obvious to the mostly urban consultants who advised La Poste on this. It is the 21st century after all, you have to capitalize on the "silver economy".
No I do not mean the electronic time-tracking of postmen, or the CRM development helping with the conversations. We're a consulting company, and this idea was from our marketing strategy team.
You're right about the spying, but you're wrong about the target. The postmen provide information about the elderly to their family. I don't believe this product used to come for free. The family is paying to have info and regular updates, not the elderly.
- how many subscribers do you have now?
- what was the most efficient marketing channel?
There is around 10,000 subscribers now. The most efficient marketing channel was word of mouth, and conversion through the website. The media picked up on it quite easily, since it's both controversial and innovative, in a way.
> A survey commissioned by La Poste found that French citizens rank mail carriers among their “favorite figures encountered in daily life,” second only to bakers.
This made me laugh a little.
I must be a bit slow today, what was funny?
Just how much bakers are appreciated in France.
(Which I think is great.)
Postmen and bakers are basically the two persons everyone sees everyday, so it makes sense.
For the bakers, it depends on how much bread you'd eat every day, I need to go to the baker once every two or three days. And if you live in a flat, you never see the postmen, mail just get dropped in your mailbox.
Based on the French site it’s actually as low as 10 euros