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FedEx took the shipping world by storm about forty years ago, growing to become the defacto shipping leader, unseating UPS and DHL. But, then after thirty years of strong growth they began to lose their mojo. In 2003, in a reaction to UPS’ acquisition of Mail Boxes Etc., FedEx announced they were buying Kinko’s, a large United States based copy center chain. For me this showed that FedEx was beginning to lose its way, and it appears their connection to customer expectations and the current capabilities of technology is failing. For a company based on the promise of speed, FedEx is becoming increasingly slow.
Increasingly frustrated with the performance of FedEx, Amazon has increasingly turned to the United States Postal Service to deliver its packages, striking a special deals with USPS to even deliver packages on Sunday. And now, Amazon is beginning to buy trailers so they can potentially contract directly with truck drivers to help them move inventory from one distribution node to another.
And for me, my latest FedEx misadventure is a perfect example of why FedEx is now in trouble and at risk of falling from its perch. Here’s what’s happened so far.
- I ordered a new laptop from HP that was supposed to arrive in three (3) days on Saturday, July 9th
- On Saturday, July 9th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
- On Saturday, July 9th FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
- For some reason FedEx then determined they were going to wait THREE DAYS before attempting re-deliver the package
- On Tuesday, July 12th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
- On Tuesday, July 12th FedEx despite someone being home nearly all day, FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
- On Wednesday, July 13th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
- On Wednesday, July 13th FedEx despite someone being home nearly all day, FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
- On Thursday, July 14th I received a missed call and voicemail from FedEx
- On Thursday, July 14th I attempted to call the FedEx number given and nobody answered the phone, got voicemail and left message
- On Friday, July 15th the Web site indicated that package would be delivered again that day, but no delivery came
- On Friday, July 15th I called FedEx and got voicemail
- On Friday, July 15th I called FedEx again and got a person, hooray! But, the person said my only option was to drive a fair distance to come pick it up or have it delivered to a FedEx location near me.
- On Friday, July 15th I chose to have the package delivered to my local FedEx location (a Kinko’s about 5-10 miles away) under the impression it would be available Saturday, July 16th at this location for my pickup and that they would probably call me after it arrived
- On Saturday, July 16th I went to the Kinko’s around 7pm figuring that it must be there by that time (How long could it take to ship a package 15-20 miles from one FedEx location to another?)
- On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was unable to find the package
- On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was unable to get any information from their systems because they were down for maintenance
- On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was able to call and using a voice response system get a Tuesday, July 19th delivery estimate to their location
- On Monday, July 18th I received a postcard from FedEx saying they had tried to deliver my package three times and to contact them (NOTE: this was a very confusing postcard, not obvious what to do)
- On Tuesday, July 19th I received a phone call from the FedEx Kinko’s store saying they had my package, and I picked it up a few hours later after they used my name (no technology) to search a pile of packages in the back
VERY BAD EXPERIENCE – I got my package TEN DAYS AFTER I was supposed to get it, and nearly two weeks after I ordered the laptop.
Inaccurate information on the web site, poor customer service, bad technology, slow resolution…
These are all signs that this logistics company has gone off track and has not kept pace with the capabilities of technology today.
There is no reason why FedEx shouldn’t have been able to:
- Show me online exactly where my package is
- When FedEx is estimating it to be delivered based on the packages loaded on the truck and the planned route
- Offer me the opportunity to select an alternate delivery time or date or location if the likely delivery time doesn’t work for me
This would be customer service.
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Braden Kelley is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons and Charting Change (March 2016) from Palgrave Macmillan. Braden is also the creator of the Change Planning Toolkit™, a popular keynote speaker focusing on accelerating innovation and change, and an Innovation Excellence co-Founder.
Follow him here on Linkedin or on Twitter.
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