I had a very trying experience this week with one of my usually favorite vendors, FedEx. I had brought with me an armload of manuals, books, and professional materials that needed boxing and got them into the best box, and I even snagged a single sheet of wrapping paper to prevent things from shifting about. (These days, if you need more than “trash wrap” it is going to be an investment in supplies!) I had my last preprinted air bill with me (I am a loyal account holder) and provided my package with a completed bill on it for shipping. It was when I asked for additional preprinted air bills to be ordered that I understood all too well the incredible insignificance of my business to FedEx.
The clerk behind the counter said to me “You have to call the 800 number or go online.” I looked at her dumbfounded because here I was, in the flesh, with my last air bill and my account number, and yet I “had to” take other action prescribed by FedEx. To me, it made sense for her to graciously take my air bill and account number and offer to call it in or get online to do this. I know they have slow periods and downtime. Instead, I went out to my car, camped on my cell phone only to be further dismayed by the typical gargantuan company automated voice system that has never liked my voice. After a minimum of 6 prompts and connections, and two unsuccessful attempts at speaking my account number into their computer, I was reduced to (through gritted teeth) saying “REPRESENTATIVE” enough times to get through to a live being. She was delightful, quick, efficient and friendly. Now wouldn’t it have made sense to have her at the counter??
I am forever amazed at how grossly impersonal gigantic companies have become and still succeed despite themselves. FedEx is not alone. They save themselves with the “REPRESENTATIVE” but what a painful journey for me, their customer, and my valuable time gone forever. I am betting they could cut back on phone personnel if they simply allowed their counter clerks to truly be customer centric in their service.
The Lesson: Never outgrow the extra mile, the personal touch, or the live experience. There is no shortcut to success for happy clients and satisfied customers.