Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Things Brown Can Show Your Association

Perhaps you’ve read the stories about missed deliveries of UPS (also known as Brown) or even experienced the delays in delivery of Christmas presents.

Headline writers couldn’t resist as in USA Today's  UPS: Upset, Peeved Shoppers. Others wrote: “The Grinch wore brown this Christmas.” Or this one, UPS Shipping Delays Show Perils of Stores Overpromising.

Background of Christmas 2013:

  • Shoppers shopped later.
  • Retailers (both online and bricks & mortar) promised presents would arrive on time (some even saying you could buy on December 22 and still get it delivered by Christmas Eve.)
  • Delivery companies (especially UPS) underestimated volume and missed Christmas deadlines.
  • Millions of customers were angry.
  • Retailers blamed the shippers.
  • Shippers did not adequately communicate issue to consumers.
Brown (aka UPS) did not understand the gravity of the situation. Their statements talked about the huge volume of shipments. They said missed deliveries was a small percent of the total.

Clearly, they don’t get my old PR profs statement, “To hell with your grass seed (e.g. volume), what about my grass (e.g., Christmas presents).”
  • “Holiday spirit turned to rage today as irritated consumers dealt with a third day of broken promises while UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, staggered to recover from a holiday crush that caught the service unprepared and left thousands of people short of gifts under their Christmas trees.”

The case offers several lessons for associations:

1. Always under promise and over perform!
  • Don’t promise what you think you might be able to meet. Promise only what you know you can do. If you do better, that is great!
2. Do every thing you can to meet (or exceed) the expectations of your members.
  • Add extra staff or redirect current staff to help solve the issue.
  • Work extra time if needed to fulfill expectations and promises. (See #3 below.)
3. If you discover you can’t meet expectations, communicate fast and accurately.
  • Barry Tesh, 52, of Jacksonville, said in an interview, "A lot of these employees keep saying 'It's the weather' or 'It's some kind of a backlog.' Well then why, all the way up until the 23rd, were they offering next-day delivery? That guaranteed delivery was 80% of my decision to buy the gift."
  • UPS gave workers Christmas Day off; meanwhile, Postal workers worked on Christmas to be sure their packages got delivered. That rankled customers waiting for packages.
4. Don’t blame other people.
  • Retailers – who are partly at fault for promising late purchases would arrive before Christmas – blamed the shippers saying “we got all the packages to UPS in time.”
5. Don’t issue statements saying “it doesn’t impact that many people.”
  • A statement issued Wednesday said, "UPS understands the importance of your holiday shipments. UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination."
  • UPS spokeswoman Natalie Goodwin said on Christmas Eve that "a small percentage of shipments are delayed and will not be delivered today."
  • Mike Reynolds, 43, of Martinez, Calif., said UPS' biggest mistake wasn't the delivery delay — it was that statement.
  • "They said 'a small percentage,' and that was insulting as a customer. It made me feel marginalized," Reynolds said. "My mother stayed home last night waiting for packages to come in. She just waited and waited and waited, and it never happened. She missed out on the festivities."
6. Find an appropriate “reward” for the inconvenience.
  • How do you say “I’m sorry?”
  • Some retailers offered refunds (of shipping charges). Others provided gift cards. 
7. Have a crisis plan in place
  • Everyone at your association knows what to do and when to do it. 
  • That includes who is responsible for issuing statements to members, media, social media. Communicate early and often.
  • And remember in your communications, it is about them (your members or customers) not you.

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