|A Competitive Gap
The U.S. Post Office is under tremendous pressure to get costs in alignment with revenues and stop losing so much money. The Postmaster General stated that the U.S. Post Office was going to consider everything in an effort to fix its revenue shortfall. The Post Office has not been a true monopoly for a long time, and their inability to compete is at the root of their issues.
Sure the entire business model for information delivery has changed, but the Post Office monopoly, like many other companies that compete in a monopoly or near monopoly environment, has been blind to competition both direct (Fed Ex) and indirect (email). And further, for the most part, they still work with a mindset that they are doing you a favor to allow you to use their service, and not as a supplier happy for customers.
Two more examples to share to demonstrate this gap. We recently made a mistake and shipped a package via FedEx Ground to a post office box address in Tennessee. As we all know, Fed Ex cannot deliver to post office boxes. We expected to get the package back after about a week to ten days with the error noted. Instead we got a call from Fed Ex in Tennessee asking us for the phone number of the recipient so they could arrange for home delivery. Wow, talk about above and beyond.
In contrast we shipped a book via media mail to an address in Florida. The address even included the 9-digit zip code. Ten days later the book was returned to us as undeliverable. It took some time but we contacted the recipient and found out we had left the apartment number off of the address. Two problems with this from our perspective:
- It would have been "nice" if the mail person had delivered it anyway. It is likely that the apartment was obvious given that this person gets other mail at that address. Maybe the regular mail person was not on duty and the substitute did not recognize the name, who knows.
- Had the return notification noted that the apartment was missing, we could have corrected that quickly instead of having to guess at what was wrong with the address.
How are you working to surprise and delight your customers to create a competitive gap between you and the rest of the pack?
As a quick note we are pleased to report the Post Office, as part of their cost saving measures is finally considering closing a Post Office branch serving a town of about 80 people about 10 miles from a major city. The branch has been open for 80 years, so the decision is traumatic for the town. There is no Fed Ex office there.