What Are You Delivering?

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I love starting my day with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. And yes, I still read a real paper – three actually, the local paper, the Wall Street Journal, and on Sunday, the New York Times – so my morning happiness depends quite heavily on the dependability of my newspaper delivery person.  I read the newspaper for knowledge, but one of the better lessons I’ve learned came not from the paper, but from the person who delivers it.

Until a few months ago, I never really thought about the delivery of my newspaper.  I’d go to the end of my driveway, the paper was there, end of story.

Until it wasn’t.

A little disappointing, but after a day or two, we were back to normal.

And then we weren’t.

Sometimes I’d get the local paper, but not the WSJ.  Sometimes I’d get the WSJ, but not the local paper.  Your guess was as good as mine if I was going to get the NY Times each Sunday.  And then there were the days when they just didn’t bother to deliver anything at all.  It was mind-boggling to me how they could get it right three days in a row and then screw it up for the next four.

I didn’t keep count of how many times I had to call about delivery errors, but let’s just say I had the customer service phone numbers for all three papers on speed dial.  Mind you, none of the papers were at fault, but they are who you must call with delivery issues.

One morning, after several weeks of starting my day on hold with {insert newspaper name here}, I found a letter of introduction with my newspaper, neatly folded in the newspaper box.  Not in the bushes, or in a puddle, but in the box specifically manufactured and installed to receive delivery of the newspaper.  The letter was from the hero of this story, my new delivery person.  In the letter, he introduced himself and provided his contact information.  He noted that while he did not believe newspaper delivery was brain surgery, he took pride in always doing his job to the best of his ability.  He offered to accommodate special delivery requests.  All we had to do was ask.  He is great at his job!  He gets it right every day.

To be fair, all three papers have followed up with me more than once to make sure that I am now receiving prompt delivery of my paper.  As far as follow-up goes, that’s pretty good customer service.

But my newspaper delivery hero knows great customer service.  Following these three rules, he delivers his best every day:

  1. First and foremost, meet your customers’ needs. If you don’t know what they are, ask.
  2. Every job is worthy of being done with pride. No job is too small to do well.
  3. Great customer service is a daily commitment to excellence, not a process designed to resolve a complaint.

No matter our role or title at work (or in life), we all have “customers”.

Who are your customers?

What do they need from you?

Are you delivering your best?