“Single envelopes are a bestseller”
The “branch with partner” at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) has been around for years and is a real success story. Flexibility, resourcefulness and language skills are just some of the qualities needed by staff at the Hönggerberg on-campus branch. International students and other customers keep them busy.
Surrounded by forests, rolling hills and meadows, the Hönggerberg campus of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) is a real city outside the city. Around 15,000 people from all over the world come here to work or study and many of them live on the campus. Besides lecture theatres, laboratories, libraries and offices, the Hönggerberg campus also caters for everyday needs, with grocery stores, sports facilities, an ETH Store selling items for students and – as befits a university campus – a campus info office. But this one’s special, because it doubles up as a postal branch.
In step with academic life
The busiest times at the on-campus postal branch are Monday to Friday between 9 and 10 a.m., which is mainly due to the type of customers it serves. “Many students and academic staff are busy into the night, so their day starts later”, says Nadine Elmer, Campus info deputy group leader. From Monday to Friday, three to four employees from the Services department serve customers at this Swiss Post branch with partner. What’s particularly popular? “Single envelopes and stamps. We also often send postcards abroad with photos of the campus. Sometimes, they’re already franked with a foreign stamp. In those cases, we simply stick a Swiss stamp next to it”, says Nadine Elmer with a smile.
Moving house by parcel
The international character of the ETH campus is also reflected in the postal services provided there. Nadine Elmer has plenty of stories about this. “Not long ago, there was an Indian student who was moving to Canada upon completion of her doctorate in Switzerland. She brought us carefully taped banana boxes, complete with accurate inventory lists and waybills. This was her way of sending her stuff to her future home overseas”, says Nadine Elmer. “We’ve even offered a student a trolley before, because he was completely out of breath from running back and forth between the student halls and our branch, trying to collect his furniture”, she laughs. The list of items collected from Nadine Elmer and her colleagues in the past even includes mattresses and bicycles.
Loyal customers and other experts
There are also some regular customers – for example from the retirement home in Höngg. They regularly visit the “branch with partner” amid the student hustle and bustle on the campus and are often there before the doors open at 7.30 a.m. These senior citizens deal with their postal transactions at the on-campus branch, asking staff about the latest stamps, “to make sure that the branch continues to be there for a long time”. But the majority of customers actually live on the ETH campus. What sets them apart is the fact that “they’re exceptionally well informed about sending dangerous goods”, says Nadine Elmer. But to be on the safe side, customers still ask whether sending specimens or materials is permitted, or enquire about alternative ways of sending certain items straight away. “We’re always happy to support our customers. Helping people and using different foreign languages is one of the big advantages of our daily work at the on-campus branch”, says the 25-year-old enthusiastically.