Postal service standards improve service delivery in the Digital Single Market  

Postal services are maybe the one type of service that comes to one's mind when thinking of service delivery. We have been sending letters or parcels for ages and sometimes waited for ages to receive them. For some time now, this is no longer the case. Some basic principles for service delivery for measurement of quality of service, hybrid mail, identification and tracking of mail items, apertures in letter boxes and address data were defined by European standards. 

The implantation of standards facilitates the compliance with the requirements set in the Postal Services Directive (EU 97/67/EC) , whose aim is to ensure that affordable, high quality and efficient postal services are available throughout the EU. 

The reference European standard for postal service delivery, EN 13850:2012 ‘Postal Services - Quality of Services - Measurement of the transit time of end-to-end services for single piece priority mail and first class mail’ specifies methods for measuring the end-to-end transit time of domestic and cross-border Single Piece Priority Mail collected, processed and delivered by postal service operators.

As the standard cannot establish a common European measurement system, due to the different postal traditions around Europe, it proposes instead a minimum set of requirements that the measurement should include. The objective of the measurement is to estimate the end-to-end transit time given to the customer domestically in each European country and cross-border between the European countries.

Even in the digital economy and society, the use postal services has not declined. On the contrary, e-commerce renders them even more valuable for citizens and businesses.  

CEN standard EN 14615:2017 ‘Digital postage marks - Applications, security and design’ contributes to ensure that postal services are fit for the digital age. Indeed, this European Standard specifies a recommended procedure for the development of digital postage marks. They are applications linked to the use of digital printing and image data capture, which provide the proof of payment as a piece of mail progresses through the postal system. They offer the potential for significant cost savings when compared with the use of legacy postage marks, due to their ease of reproduction and their machine-readability.

This standard acknowledges the differences between the different national postal services: it is not intended to prescribe or to recommend any particular architecture or design for such applications; it only limits itself to specify the process through which such an architecture or design should be developed.

Finally, a third standard which has just been updated is dedicated to complaints handling principles: EN 14012 specifies complaints handling principles related to domestic and international postal services. This standard has been updated from a previous version thanks to the invaluable contribution of ANEC, the voice of European consumers, thus ensuring that consumers’ needs and benefits were taken of high consideration. According to the organisation’s representatives, “ANEC achieved the inclusion of the categories of complaint of mis-delivery included with agreed definition of what this is. This is something identified in ANEC Study ‘European cross-border online shopping - Learning from consumer experiences’ as being of concern to consumers. Also, to ensure the other concern, damage was dealt with by the inclusion of the Technical Report on damage to postal items was included in the Annex. ANEC also supported the improvements to the proposals made by other TC members to improve the draft from an accessibility point of view.”

Through our standards, we contribute to affordable, safe and efficient postal services all around Europe!

For more information, please contact Alina IATAN.

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