Some time ago, a major client was teetering on dropping our service due to a handful of problems we hadn’t delivered on. They had been a client for some time and we had grown complacent in aggressively tackling issues they were having. Their patience was wearing thin and we were on the verge of losing a client that at one time we worked hard to gain. After various meetings with the client’s stakeholders, I was frustrated we hadn’t delivered for them but began to formulate a plan as to how we’d get things back on track. In this particular case a story I had heard about Fedex came to mind and was helpful in framing the go-forward attitude we needed.
The story is told by Michael Basch, the former FedEx executive credited with creating the customer centric culture they’re famous for. Back when they were a young company FedEx was struggling to get traction with clients. They had made the decision to open a location in a small town in Indiana because there was an RCA plant there that was known to ship a lot of packages. Their motto at the time was “Get the packages”. However, their sales team was having no success getting them convinced to try FedEx. RCA had all sorts of reasons they wouldn’t try them and the sales team’s efforts always ended in frustration.
Then one day, Dianne, who worked in the package tracing customer service area, received a phone call from a woman from that same small town. The woman was panicking and near-tears as she explained that her wedding was Saturday and her wedding dress which was supposed to be at her house that Friday by noon, hadn’t arrived yet and it was now midafternoon. Dianne got to work on tracking down where the package was and found it was still in a warehouse in Detroit 300 miles away. Fedex only had about 25 employees at the time and she couldn’t get ahold of anyone to escalate the issue to, so she made a decision to pay for a Cessna to fly the package to Indiana.
The following Monday the woman called Dianne to thank and to tell her how great the wedding went. She then asked to talk to her manager to share her happiness with the service she received. So Dianne transferred her to Michael and he listened to her crying tears of joy about how pleased she was to have had this resolved. Michael’s first reaction was frustration however because he felt they would go bankrupt doing this type of thing. What he later learned though, was that several of the RCA execs were at the wedding and when they heard this story they decided to give Fedex a try. Within just a few weeks, RCA’s relationship grew FedEx’s business by nearly 50%. Michael talks about how this changed his mindset permanently in his book.
A team of people from Product, Operations, Customer Success and IT rallied to solve that client’s problems quickly. Today the client is advocate for us and our number of commercial clients using that product has more than doubled. As Roy Vayden once said: “Success is never owned it’s only leased and rent is due every day.” So I decided to name the blog after that Fedex motto because of the mindset it embodies.