I almost didn't receive a FedEx package recently, because someone screwed up the shipping information. The package was shipped to the correct address, but the recipient's name - mine - was truncated.
The name appeared as "James Wa" instead of "James Watson."
I was a guest at the Omni Orlando in ChampionsGate, Florida. The package was to be held for me at the front desk. For two consecutive days, each time I called the desk to ask if the package had arrived, I was told, "No - nothing has arrived with your name on it." But the package was there the entire time.
Techncially, they were correct. My name wasn't on the package because the person entering the "Ship to" information typed the following 39 letters on the second line of the address:
"HOLD AT RECEPTION DESK FOR JAMES WATSON."
But only 35 of the 39 letters appeared on the shipping label when it printed. That's right, the software program that prints out the shipping labels will only print the first 35 letters. In 99.9% of the cases, I'm sure that's not an issue. But in my case, it was. And that's the only case I cared about on this particular day.
So who's at fault here?
- Is it FED EX for limiting the number of characters in the label print program?
- Is it the shipper, for not paying attention to the label that printed?
- Is it the hotel receiving clerk, for not comparing the name on the label to the names of the registered guests at the hotel, and correcting / completing the spelling of my name?
An argument can be made for each of these, but regardless of who's at fault, there was a breakdown in a "back office" process that had caused me to not receive my "Next Day" package for 2 days. And that caused me to think negatively about 3 companies involved:
- The company whose products were promised to me for the next day - they couldn't get the label right.
- The company that did the actual shipping - they didn't deliver" in time."
- The company that received the shipment (the Omni hotel) - they couldn't figure out the shipping label.
The Point is This:
It's not only the front-office, customer-facing employees that impact the customer experience; it's also the back-office employees and processes that can impact the experience, the brand and the reputation.
So, what to do about it?
Carefully map out the entire customer journey, but when you do, include behind the scenes processes that can impact the customer experience. It can be something as remote and banal as the number of characters that print out in and address field that can hurt your brand and reputation. It's these invisible factors that lurk beneath the surface that can really do damage. Don't let them.
What back-office experience factors exist in your business?
What can you do to fortify them?