Friday, July 25, 2008

Customer Service Horror Story from FedEx

Having recently had my own little run in where FedEx "misplaced" a large critical package with various customer service people telling me any variety of half truths/outright lies, I sympathize with Aaron Greenspan. A few good customer service lessons to behold, however. It doesn't surprise me anymore how absurdly incompetent some companies appear to their customers (and to a certain degree this gives me comfort that business isn't nearly as difficult as some make it out to be):

FedEx is a large company, and we've all grown accustomed to dealing with large companies. When there are so many people involved in a system that it is no longer possible for one individual to actually understand the entire system, it's understandable that some errors might creep in. So what can you do?

As it turns out, there's a lot you can do. You can design better database systems. You can hire educated people to provide support who can think for themselves, instead of parroting party lines. You can grant those employees more authority because you trust them, because education is a good proxy for knowing the difference between right and wrong. You can listen to your customers instead of shouting over them. You can throw out automated phone systems that cost more money than they save because of the time they waste. You can enforce quality assurance policies that route computer-related problems to people who actually know something about computers. You can perform random billing audits to catch mistakes before customers do.

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