I used to hate going to the post office. I have had a number of bad experiences and long wait times. I used to say going to the post office was like going to the Department of Motor Vehicles - it’s slow, the people are miserable, there’s too much paperwork, it gets confusing, and if feels like you just gave a part of your life away after waiting in line (often up to an hour).
This time I had to go to the post office to drop off my tax returns. I, again, was dreading going. I feared the line, the wait, the frustration.
But I had a completely different experience at the post office. Like, 180 degrees different. I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t believe how great it was.
When I walked in, an official (possibly a manager) came over to ask me what I needed. I told him I wanted to send my package certified mail. He pointed out the form on the counter and told me what to do. I was a little confused at all of the help (I’m not used to this at the post office. This was a new experience). The postmaster (I think that was who it was) let me borrow his pen so I could complete the form and get in line. I then went to the next open clerk at the counter to send my package.
People were smiling and laughing. I commented that I wanted to go back and use the post office again. Heck, I almost bought stamps to send letters again (I used to send letters all the time. I stopped because the USPS experience became difficult - even to get stamps.). Of course, the postmaster said we hope you come back. (He gets it!)
I was in and out of the post office, successfully sending my envelope, in 10 minutes. In the past, this same task would take me up to 20-30 minutes. It was productive and a positive experience.
All that was a result from a shift in attitude from the management and employees. A positive, energetic attitude costs nothing. This new addition to that USPS location turned into a 100% free upgrade in the customer experience.
(It’s a lesson many companies could take to improve their own experiences.)
- The customer feels supported. Someone helped me find the right form, complete it and process it. I didn't feel like I was trying to figure out what to do alone. Someone was available to help me. Actually, many people were available to help me. Sometimes in business, we think that automating knowledge (putting it online in a knowledgebase or FAQ) is the solution for assistance. It can help, but especially for in-person and live environments, this doesn't help. Having a person available to answer questions makes a world of difference. The challenge at the USPS was always that the person who could help was at the counter. That didn't help productivity and caused long lines. Having someone available before the counter helped customers to be prepared before the counter. Now I could see a postal clerk prepared with me ready to pay.
- The customer doesn't feel pressured. I did feel a little pressured when I came in because I wasn’t used to getting so much help at the post office. However, they didn’t rush me and let me take my time. I could have decided to choose a different product to send the envelope and I would have gotten help. I felt like I could ask questions or change my mind. It was very liberating.
- The customer feels secure and confident in his or her decisions throughout the process. Usually at the post office I’m confused in general - too many forms and products to choose from. The individuals working there helped me make the right decisions through the process. Their confidence and positivity helped me feel confident. It's catchy! I knew they had it under control.
- The customer feels that he is experiencing progress - whatever that may mean. I got through the line quickly (there wasn’t really a line, so to speak), got to the counter and someone helped me get what was needed. I felt like the process went smoothly and I wasn't held up without a good reason. And I wasn't able to hold myself up in the process either with questions, challenges, or confusion. There was too much help available.
- The customer feels a sense of accomplishment for an activity. I sure did when my taxes were on their way to the tax center in less than ten minutes! That was just great!
- The customer feels informed - knowing all of the options available and understand that there are choices. I knew what I wanted but I felt like I could ask someone questions and get answers if needed. There wasn't a need that day.
- The customer has a pleasant experience with it. Everyone was smiling - how could I not? The postmaster of the location had such a great attitude! So friendly and happy. That alone makes you want to return.
- The customer feels it is easy to conduct business with this company. I typically find the post office difficult to deal with because of the lines and the wait. And if I ask a question, I didn’t always get great advice. Until this time. They gave great help!
- The customer feels he can trust the store/site. I left feeling that was true. Again, it was part of the positive attitude, which also bring confidence and courage. The team at that USPS location all had confidence and
- Always exceed your customers’ expectations. That day, they more than exceeded my expectations. I’d say the post office reset my expectations. Now I know a great experience is possible and that I can return to that post office for a positive one. The only problem is that they have now set the bar so high, I am curious what the experience will be like round 2. If it's the same, in some ways, they have exceeded my expectations. When you experience something once, that's a fluke. When you experience something twice, that's a standard. I look forward to learning if this is the case.
Again, a significant experience upgrade can be made for free just from a shift in attitude. They created a great experience by being helpful with a smile. It's amazing how far positivity can go. Maybe I need to go buy more stamps?