Bad service is the worst marketing

Everything a company does helps determine its brand. Every interaction with the public can be considered marketing.

So then why do so many companies still fail at even basic customer service?

What can Brown do for you? That was UPS’ ad slogan. They moved from a friendly, customer-focused tagline to a dry one that’s all about them.

UPS graphic We Heart Logistics

They say they changed it to “We [heart] logistics” for a more global appeal, but I don’t think it works. And, in my experience, I don’t think UPS backs up either tagline.

Recently, I ordered a few items from Drugstore.com. Got e-mail notifications confirming my order and then confirming shipment pretty quickly. And, I have to say, I love being able to track my packages.

But, in this case, I didn’t receive my package, even though UPS tracking showed that I did.

Here’s the problem, one of them anyway: My town shares a zip code with the neighboring town, and in that neighboring town is a house with the same street address as mine. Of course, UPS knows this because I have explained it to them several times. And for a company that “hearts” logistics, it should be no problem.

First, I called UPS and spoke to Brandon. He made it quite clear he did not want to handle my problem, and he quickly tried to blame non-delivery on Drugstore.com.

What can Brown blame on you? Interesting.

Brandon’s poor behavior, however, was redeemed by UPS representative number two, Roosevelt. Roosevelt actually listened and seemed like he was taking notes on everything I said. He told me someone would call Monday, and I felt relatively confident he might set things straight for me.

In the meantime, I called Drugstore.com. After a pleasingly short automated greeting, a very friendly Tristan asked how he could help. I explained everything and he immediately offered to send out a replacement package.

I still had faith in Roosevelt though, and asked Tristan to just initiate a tracer (as UPS requested). I wanted to give UPS a chance to correct their mistake.

On Monday, as Roosevelt promised, I got a call from Julie at UPS. Did she call the number I asked to be called at? No, but I could easily call back. So I did.

Ring, ring. “UPS. Hold ple-” was how I was greeted. Ok, no problem. I don’t mind that the woman didn’t wait to hear me say anything or that she put me on hold before she even finished her sentence. Sadly, I’m used to that sort of behavior from other businesses.

I was just happy that the person who eventually answered was able to get me to Julie.

But Julie didn’t seem to know much about my package. In fact, I felt like she was given a message just to call me and wasn’t even told why. She tried to clear things up by saying, “We’re so busy here.”

Busy working out those logistics UPS loves?

I explained everything, again, and she said she’d talk to the driver. The call just kind of ended. She never called back again. I don’t know if she talked to the driver or not. My guess is she was probably too busy.

So I called Drugstore.com back, and Lisa answered the phone. She was just as friendly as Tristan, which was so refreshing after my Brown experience. She reordered my items for me, noted that Tristan had indeed put the tracer on the first UPS package and she was also able to send this new package through standard U.S. Mail, so it has a better chance of actually getting to me.

I could not be happier with my Drugstore.com experience. Tristan and Lisa made me want to use them even more than I do now. The only thing that would make me happier is if they switched to FedEx Ground for their shipments.

I will tell everyone I know about this, which will be terrific marketing for Drugstore.com, but pretty poor marketing for UPS.

And by the way, “We’re so busy” should never be an excuse you tell your customers. After all, they’re the ones who are making you so busy and you might want to thank them for it.

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