Announcing it differently

The envelope and the printed sheet of personalised stamps

The envelope and the printed sheet of personalised stamps  

I recently seem to be getting invited to weddings where arrangements are being done a bit differently. In this instance, the wedding invitation that arrived by post bore a stamp of the couple, their names, Jai and Pallavi, printed below the picture of them together. Asking Pallavi’s mother what that was all about, Chitra told me that the Postal Department was offering personalised stamps and wondered how come I had not heard of it. Well, I’m usually behind the times, I told her, but so seem to be the circles I generally move in; no one had heard of these stamps. Whereupon Chitra proceeded to enlighten me.

But first she “just” had to tell me that the Philatelic Bureau on Mount Road had once been the city’s first custom-built cinema theatre, the Electric Theatre, before the Postal Department took it over. For many years, little attention had been paid to it by the Department till one fine day they decided to renovate the building and make it the Philatelic Bureau. Now, not only is the main part of the building well-kept, but its nearly all-woman services are offered not only efficiently but in a friendly manner. “It’s nice to see smiling faces in a Government Department when you seek help,” says Chitra. Former Postmaster-General Theodore Baskaran would be delighted with all she had to say; a heritage buff, he had been responsible for the restoration and the re-use of the building in an imaginative manner.

At the personalised stamp counter in the Bureau one morning, she was offered several options of regular post office Rs. 5 issues to choose from and she chose the Taj Mahal. Then she produced the photograph she wanted used and this was scanned and sent for printing. Rs. 15 was the charge per stamp set for a bulk order, including the Rs. 5 for the Postal Department’s sister stamp, in this case the Taj Mahal stamp. Including choosing, scanning, paying, receipting and a “Please come back at four in the evening, Madam,” the whole transaction took just half an hour, the efficiency impressive, and the chat, including cooing over the picture, a rare pleasantry in a Government institution. When Chitra went back in the evening, the greetings were warm, and the stamps were ready as promised. They came in sets of 12, the personalised stamps having been printed on a perforated sheet of Rs. 5 Taj Mahal stamps that had a blank space left next to each official stamp to accommodate “My Stamp”. Chitra may have been poorer by the cost but richer by the experience of friendly service and happier by the delighted reaction of numerous friends who called in to say “What a nice idea!”

The service has been around for a while now, I was later told, but so few seem to have heard of it. Perhaps the Postal Department should improve its marketing, especially when it has a good idea.

Not ‘rocket science’ for an idea, but a way to get customers to know that there’s at least one corner in a Government institution where there’s something customer-friendly going on.

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