Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Less Than Perfect...!

Back in school we (Me, Ankit, Varun, Yash) used to silently admire the American & European logistics companies like - Fedex (Federal Express), UPS (United Parcel Services), DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn) etc. I mean for providing overnight delivery with near 100% accuracy and speed - you sure have to me more than "smart". Personally, what impressed me about these companies was the way they utlised technology to reduce total cycle time and achieve better efficiencies ! This was few years ago when services like Consignment Tracking via Email, Mobile, Pager Alerts were still innovations at large (atleast in Asia) !

I remember having mentioning my reverence for these companies so many times to my Sugandha (Our Comp Sc Faculty) in high school and she always responded with a smile and asked "Thats great ! But which of these companies is the best or which one is your favorite and why?". Well, I didn't have an answer to her question then but my association with Service industry has sure helped me in narrowing down my choices over the years. Anyways note the conversation below:

Customer A : Hey I was supposed to receive my shipment 2 hrs ago...what happened?

Store Agent: Sorry Sir, but we have no updates in our system against your tracking number.

Customer A : What do I do next, I was supposed tor receive some sensitive docs and I have aplane to catch.

Store Agent: We understand your concern sir. Can you call 1-800-FEDEX ?

Customer A : I what? Can you do that for me pls...I am really anxious right now.

Store Agent: We can't use back office phone sir.

Customer A : Hey do you know how much important this package is to me right now? Wish I had visited UPS Store.S

Store Agent (Angry): You can still visit UPS Store if you want.

Customer A (Very Disturbed): Alright Bye-Gd Day ! (Aggghhhhhhhh)

Customer A then rushes out from Fedex Kiosk, grabs his cellphone and punches in 1-800-FEDEX hastily. After 5 minutes of "Dial 1 for this, 2 for that...", Customer A manages to find a Fedex Rep and explains his situation. I spotted this scene at the nearby FedEx Kinkos this morning and seriously wished to suggest the following to that Store Agent:

  • When someone is angry - just nodding head and being a listener helps.
  • When someone tells you - you are bad or someone is better than you, they simply look for your response on the statement. So take a moment before bursting - taking a breath or two helps. Do we really need to react?
  • The problem with disappointing Customers is that - you loose not one but atleast 10 customers. Think about it - I am sure the ratio of your positive to negative experiences with Fedex and the alike is more than one. Yet as individuals we always accentuate more on the negative!
  • Amidst firece competition, you can simply distinguish yourself quickly by the kind of service you provide than the tools / technologies you use. Hey afterall anyone can be trained to use a tool or a device isn't it ? But very few people can be trained to provide superlative service using those tools and empathy.
  • Before declaring a customer as "Exceptionally Crazy" - do a role revesal. Lets say that you had a plane to catch in few hours and your DL/PP shipment hasn't arrived yet - Would you have behaved differently? If yes then suggest the same to customer and yes Calm him down !

This conversation lasted for just 5 mins but it sure made quite an impact on me ! I really wish that Store Agent was a little more patient and polite with the Customer A or wish I had handed a hard copy of this to Customer A. On the brighter side - I am confident that there's phenomenal room for improvement even in the seemingly near perfect logistics industry.

"Do we utter things in a manner that makes them or us memorable?"

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