Chalk One Up for UPS

                Postal Service versus UPS, Customer Service Wins

My wife asked me to drop off a return at the post office last week. As I left the house I took a quick look at the label, hoping it was a United Parcel Service (UPS) return, unlucky me – the vendor had prepaid the return using the post office.

I knew what was ahead, the post office meant waiting until 8:00 (or later depending on the mood of the clerk), a long line with lots of rules; no cell phones, no credit cards, no overweight, over sized boxes, no talking, no chewing gum. And when you finally make it to the front of the line it is likely that you broke at least 2 rules. After your reprimand the government employee will then spend a few extra minutes doing all he/she can to up sell; Stamps? Insurance? confirmation? Signature? Next day? Saturday? Yesterday?

Results of this approach to customer service? Recent reports indicate a $3.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2011 and expectations that the US Postal Service will run out of cash by October. According to some simple math that means there must be over $11 billion in the bank.

I tested the competition with a similar return to the local UPS drop shop. Store hours started at 7:00am, friendly clerks, yes more than one, met with with a smile – just dropping off? No up sell, no rules just plain old great customer experience.

Results? UPS reports a $2 billion fourth quarter profit.

In academia their is a new theory that is all the rage. Lots of brilliant minds sitting in ivory towers scratching their heads to understand the impact of this new concept called customer focus.

Perhaps we should just ask UPS to explain it, their customer focused approach has answered the mail when it comes to stakeholder expectations.

Marc Compeau, Forbes