NSI ships through UPS often and usually doesn’t have a problem. But when last week’s critical hard-drive shipment was delayed three days due to a storm, it cost some money and, worse, caused some frustration.
On the money side, we had a computer down, and technical services standing by, awaiting the shipment. The website and two calls to UPS yielded only inaccurate information, making contingency planning even more difficult.
But storms happen, and the money wasn’t the real problem–even our tight budget can weather some wind and rain. The real problem was that UPS’s tracking system was not designed to provide its Customer Service Representatives enough useful details. All they could tell me was that a “critical emergency had occured beyond UPS’ control, but the package will arrive later today.”
“What is the emergency?” I asked.
“It is a critical emergency. It’s beyond UPS’ control. But your package will arrive later today,” repeated “Johanna.”
“You said that yesterday, and you can’t even tell me what the emergency is. Can you ask someone who knows to give me a call to let me know?”
“You would have to call the shipper and ask them to ask us to give you that information, sir.”
What?!? UPS wanted me to believe that this was not their fault. Ok–plausible. UPS wanted me to believe that I should bear the costs of this continued delay and misinformation. Difficult, but I could be convinced. Now, though, UPS wanted me simply to accept that any evidence to support this leap of faith would only be provided to me at the pleasure of New Egg, which probably knew nothing about the apparent emergency in the first place? No way!
And that’s when Johanna and I plunged head first into the CSR Information Gap. Now, lacking the solid ground of trust previously established, my faith in UPS had given way. The more my confidence in UPS’ information was in freefall, the more I started to wonder about alternative cost-sharing plans in which UPS gets a little more skin in this game.
Fortunately, I was eventually able to persuade Johanna that asking someone more familiar with the emergency to fill me in was a better plan. Within an hour or so, someone else from UPS called back.
He sounded tired but polite. He also sounded informed and confident. “Sorry, but there was a bad storm. The guys are having to get two days’ worth of packages out in one, but they’re doing their best and getting it done. Your package will be there later today.”
Without even realizing it, he pulled me back up out of the information gap and restored UPS’ standing. Money at this point wasn’t even an issue: these guys were working hard — the storm wasn’t their fault. Sure enough, the hard drive arrived about an hour later. Occasional storms,” mostly of a technological sort, have affected NSI’s client service as well at times, but promptly providing a basic explanation of the problem usually goes a long way to resolving it.
If UPS’ tracking system could have provided Johanna this small set of facts, it would have eliminated any doubt before thoughts of refunds, recompense or reparations even entered my head. It would have prevented a gap from breaching the long time trust I’ve had in UPS.