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The cost of convenience

During a recent visit to FedEx Office, I asked the counter rep to photocopy and staple 35 copies of a 4-page document. She instantly produced a test copy to verify that it met expectations. It did.

She then said, “If I print the other 34 copies now, there will be a $17.50 rush charge. But if you come back tomorrow morning, you can avoid that fee.”

I passed on the $17.50 rush charge (as it represented a 25% upcharge on the cost of the order) and told her I’d return in the morning to pick it up.

As I walked out, I reflected on my experience: When I arrived, I was greeted by a female employee behind the counter who stood in the same spot and played with a rubber band the entire five minutes I was in the store. Her coworker is the one who assisted me. They were hardly swamped. Besides me, there were two other customers in the store—both using self-service copy machines.

It occurred to me that had the employee who copied the test sample simply entered “34” and pushed the start button, my order would have been complete by the time I pulled out of the parking lot. Who knows? Maybe that’s what she did?

This encounter made me curious about the company’s corporate mission statement and core values. When I checked the FedEx website, I found this opening sentence in a paragraph titled “Mission & goals”: FedEx Corporation will produce superior financial results for its shareholders by providing high value-added logistics, transportation and related business services through focused operating companies.

Beneath this paragraph were three subcategories: Financial goals, FedEx long term goals, and Growth strategies. I saw no reference to customers (customer service, customer experience) in these subcategories. The emphasis was on financial reporting, growth, and metrics such as EPS, revenue, operating margin, cash flows, ROIC, and shareholder returns.

FedEx Office (and Kinko’s before that) used to be a convenient alternative to printers who weren’t set up to complete most print jobs while customers waited. There were limits, of course. If you had a complex order requiring hundreds of copies, collating, folding, binding, etc., then you expected to drop it off (or email it) and pick it up the next day.

But if you needed to photocopy and staple 35 copies of a 4-page document, you could count on getting this done conveniently, in a single trip, without a 25% upcharge.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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