Big Fails: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster

In our Strategy, Org Design & Culture series we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands that are missing the mark on basic customer expectations. These are CX Big Fails. Failures likes these can teach CX professionals as much about the impact of CX strategy as successes can. Our teacher today is FedEx.

Among the world’s largest transportation companies, FedEx made the top 5 in the 2017 Forbes Global ranking. This is the brand that invented the real-time tracking packages service. Yet, customers CANNOT change FedEx delivery dates over the phone. I learned that first hand when I tried to complete that simple transaction last week.

Taking a Vacation from Intuitive CX

You may ask why I made a phone call if I am a customer experience professional and an innovator? Because I am always on the go and multitasking. Despite self-service, there will always be use cases for phone as a channel. My customer expectation from a brand like FedEx dictated the brand would have a chatbot system to take care of a simple transaction like changing a delivery date. A request like mine must be in the top ten questions for a delivery company.

To my surprise, there was no chatbot. When I reached the representative, she told me she did not have access to change my delivery date. I needed to go online with my tracking number, expand the More Details Link and choose Hold, On Vacation, or something like this to change my date. Kiss first call resolution goodbye. Also kiss low effort score goodbye!

Last, but not least, according to FedEx, we are to understand that “Vacation” means “Change Delivery Date.” One of the foundational principles for delivering good customer experience is to enable front line employees to do their job. Tools and resources allow a brand that cares about the customers to do that. The fact that FedEx agents are not given those tools is shocking. On top of that, the non-intuitive navigation copy guarantees additional calls (costs) to the contact center by confused customers desperate to find a common Change Delivery Date field that doesn’t exist.

Locked Out of the Customer Journey

My new (lowered) customer expectation was that I could solve my issue and that the self-service channel would be quick and seamless. As customers, we all encounter system limitations, even from brands we like and trust. At this point, I was still a fan of FedEx. A few hours later, I went online to do what I was instructed to do.

After clicking the Hold, on Vacation button, I was asked to register as a customer. This is when the fun picked up again!  When a customer registers he/she is required to verify their address. The Fedex website offers two ways to verify address: through MAIL (days after you actually needed to change a delivery date on your package), or by answering a four question survey, two of which are inquiring about the names of PAST residents of your home.

The questions are multiple choice. Offered no alternative, I tried to guess which names lived in my New York City apartment before I did. And I got locked out. At this point, I made the second call to FedEx. The customer agent said he could not help me. Period. When I asked for his supervisor, he said that he does not have one since ALL supervisors left at 10:00 pm ( I called at 10:30 pm). At the end, I was NOT ABLE to change my delivery date after having omnichannel transactions with the brand.

This is not only a failed move, it is also a bad customer experience, plain and simple. I never got a survey to share my feedback, but needless to say, if given the choice, I will never use FedEx again.

Many brands have customer journeys that are so complex that they remain unsolved. This is understandable, given the growing complexities of customer needs and expectations. To change a delivery date when you interact with an iconic courier brand should not be one such complexity. Table stakes cannot be compromised. Dominos had to change their recipe because people did not like the taste of their pizza. Similarly, FedEx needs to ensure they deliver the main value for the customer – delivering packages at the right address at the most convenient time for the customer. If they cannot even do that, they will not enter the future of services and they can kiss that top 5 ranking goodbye.

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