Even in the era of social media there are so many companies that still “don’t get it.” You’d think they would by now.
The video below, which you may have already seen, documents the theft of an Xmas gift (iPad Mini) at a residence by a UPS driver after it is left by an earlier FedEx driver. It’s pretty amazing.
Once the video was discovered by the homeowner, who recorded it with a security camera mounted above his front door, he contacted UPS. However, as he told CNN, UPS gave him the “run around.” So he posted the video on YouTube, which of course was picked up by national news outlets and was exposed on the homepage of Yahoo.
Millions of people have now been exposed to this story and video of a UPS driver stealing a present from the doorstep of a home.
Some time after posting the video and its subsequent exposure he got a call from UPS with a promise to replace the stolen iPad. The driver-thief was identified, fired and arrested. But how much damage (even if only temporary) has been done to the UPS brand? I would argue considerable damage.
An iPad Mini costs less than $350. But the negative publicity and brand impact are worth many thousands of dollars — if not hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Consumers and would-be shippers who see this will be inclined to think that UPS drivers aren’t honest and perhaps to doubt whether their packages will arrive at intended destinations. (We’re waiting on a UPS delivery at our house that’s now overdue by at least 24 hours and what do you think is going through my mind?)
It might well send shippers into the arms of FedEx or competing services. So UPS will undoubtedly lose some revenue on top of the damage to its reputation.
Either because customer complaints are not taken seriously enough or because UPS doesn’t empower its customer service reps to address these sorts of situations, the company screwed up. Note that the homeowner gave UPS an opportunity to address the situation before going public. When the company did nothing he did what a lot of people in his position would now do: shame the company through social media.
(And now I’m helping to amplify the incident and extended shaming by blogging about it and posting about it on Twitter and Facebook.)
After being exposed UPS finally did what it should have done in the first place. The company was extremely myopic in its dealings with this customer and has paid a much larger price than it would have if it had simply investigated and replaced the iPad Mini. But this is a relatively common story: big company doesn’t take customer service that seriously and believes it can ignore individual complaints.
Unfortunately it often takes this kind of a public shaming and PR crisis to get companies to do the things that they should just be doing every day. It seems that many companies must learn the lesson of the importance of providing good service again and again . . . and again.
Update: In trying to determine the status of our missing delivery I wound up being on hold/on the phone with various UPS reps for more than an hour this morning. During the course of my many conversations (in which I asked whether I could pick up the package from the local service center and was told “no”) I asked whether the superviser I was speaking to had heard about the video.
She said she had. It must then be something that has been widely publicized inside UPS.
An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.