Where’s Alfred?

It was a tragedy of errors!  My cousin’s daughter underwent major surgery for a rare and aggressive stomach cancer.  Unable to get all the bad stuff, she was sent half way across the country to be admitted to the world famous MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to begin massive chemo therapy.  The week she arrived with her parents, all four wheels were stolen off the family car as it sat in the hotel parking lot.  With such misfortunes and her 20th birthday approaching, my wife and I decided to FedEx a birthday card to her and some “pick me up” cash to my cousin and his wife.

The package was to arrive by noon on Saturday—her birthday.  A Saturday afternoon FedEx tracking check revealed the package could not be delivered because the establishment was closed.  Now, how likely is it that one of the largest cancer hospitals in the world would ever be closed?  A call to the station via the call center revealed the courier was a new temp who went to shipping instead of the front door and the package would be sent out again for Saturday afternoon delivery.  But, FedEx tracking in the afternoon showed the second attempt was aborted for the same reason.  At this point, all manner of tolerance and civility were totally drained out of me.  Realizing from my tone that I was on the threshold of taking the FedEx call center operator’s first born, my call was escalated to a FedEx customer advocate in El Paso.

If there was ever a customer service guardian angel, it was Alfred.  He contacted the Houston station manager at home, plead my case, did research on the destination, stayed in frequent contact with the courier as the package was en route, and kept me updated every fifteen minutes regarding progress.  He was empathetic and determined; compassionate and clearly in charge of a solution, not just completing a task.  The surprise package was delivered to the patient’s room on her Saturday birthday before her parents left for their nearby hotel.  Now here is the key question?  Where can your customers find an Alfred in your organization?

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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