(originally published July 2nd, 2005)

Yesterday I had to stop by UPS on the way home to pick up a package that they had tried to deliver a couple of days in a row. I was out of town, and my wife was at work, so she called and told them I would be coming. I get there early enough, and proceed to wait 50 minutes to get my package. Actually, that’s somewhat of a misnomer, because I had to wait 15 minutes while they looked for the package for the woman in front of me, who it turned out I knew, then I had to wait another 35 minutes for them to find mine.

One gets to see and hear a lot if one is so inclined to do it. The woman behind me was extolling the virtues of UPS, having never lost a package she’s sent out in over 20 years. Unfortunately for them, that was the only positive comment on this day. One guy was upset because he had called and asked them to hold a package so he could pick it up, and of course they didn’t; he was yelling “Federal Express” as he left. Another was upset because a package that had been delivered to him had a big sign on his door asking whoever delivered it to leave it next door, but they didn’t do it even though it didn’t need a signature. Another complained that he should be able to talk to someone about a particular type of complaint, but was told that he would be contacted by someone next week; of course, Monday is a holiday. Another complained because she didn’t understand the machines that let one fill everything out on the computer and ship out on their own. One other person complained because he felt there should be more people on staff, blaming it on “people trying to get away for the long weekend.” All were very vocal.

I, on the other hand, was upset, but calm. I never raised my voice; I didn’t use any sarcasm towards the people working there, though I did say to someone else that they seemed to be losing packages that day. When the woman finally found my package, I was just sitting quietly in a chair, thankful for the cool air because it was really muggy outside. I got up, walked up and showed my ID for the package, and the woman thanked me for my understanding and calm.

See, my thought on such things is that yes, there was a major customer service gaff, but it wasn’t the woman’s fault looking for my package. I figured that my yelling wasn’t going to make anyone work better, or find my package quicker. Yes, I was troubled, but they were trying, so I held my tongue.

There’s customer service that we expect when we go somewhere for services. There’s another customer service which needs to be applied to customers; take your anger out on the right people, at the right time. Everyone else; just be cool.