A Funny Thing Happened on the Way From the Post Office

As you can see from the photo, I recently received a package from the United States Postal Service. The photo has not been modified. I wasn’t surprised that this was a dump and run delivery. I can only assume that the delivery person was too embarrassed to present a package in this condition. As I peeled (and peeled) the tape off the mangled box, I estimated that over 50 feet of tape was used to hold what was basically pieces of loose cardboard together.

ripped delivery package covered with tape
A true tape masterpiece.

In case you can’t tell, there are two roles of wrapping paper jutting out through the sides of the box. Bedlinens were also in the box. I had been watching the route for this package as it took almost two weeks to make its way from New Jersey to Florida. Birds migrate between these two states in less time. The USPS routed the box through five different facilities – one of them twice. In fairness to the USPS, whomever put the tape on the box was trying to protect it and amazingly – it worked. Not a single item was damaged. 

That’s one way of doing it…

Each of us has at least one story about an exceedingly poor customer experience. In my case I have a million — did you ever have an auto repair shop tell you they lost your car? I’ll save that story for another time. Customer experience is a topic of passion for me and I believe that customer experience will continue to grow in importance for any organization in the coming decade. 

I’ll share my views on designing the customer experience some other time. For now, I’d like to make a point about customer service recovery. Every customer experience won’t be great, but it’s important to recover quickly and properly when bad things do happen. How simple and exceptional it would have been for someone to ring the doorbell and apologize for the mess.  Just for fun, I investigated USPS performance for customer service and quality in 2018.  Every metric except for one was missed! The USPS has two customer care metrics and it only achieved 50% of its goal on each metric. You and I know that most companies would not be in business with this type of performance.

With a simple act of human kindness and integrity I would be telling a very different story.  Instead of the damaged package, I might have shared a picture of the USPS employee that was nice enough to step up and own the issue. Do you ever wonder at the end of the day, whether you could have gone the extra step at work to own an issue?  After this recent experience with the USPS, I’m going to work a little harder to step up when something just isn’t right. In the meantime, I’ll have a good story to tell about poor customer experience.

Are you willing to share your story about a horrible customer experience or an exceptional one? How did that experience change the actions you take to own an issue? Please send your stories to bbierbower@gmail.com.