Marketing | Environment | Culture

Tag: Mail

U.S. Postal Service: Are You Emotionally Attached?

They don’t seem to care much about customer service or performance.  You’ve probably got a complaint or six about them.  They expect to lose $7,000,000,000 of our money this year.

But when NewMediaMetrics surveyed 3,500 Americans ages 13-54 with annual income of at least $35,000 earlier this year, they beat the following brands, among many others.

  • Car makers: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jeep, BMW, VW, Toyota
  • Big boxes: Walmart, Target
  • Tech: Microsoft, Sony, Samsung
  • Iconic: Nike, Coca Cola, M&Ms
  • Various: Victoria’s Secret, Visa, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Sea World, Southwest Airlines

Look who rounds out the top 15 of the Leap (Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit) Index this year.  Beating out loads of heavy-hitting brands … it’s your United States Postal Service!

Consumers Brand Ranking NewMediaMetrics

Leap Index: Top 15 Brands Consumers Are Most Attached To

This 9/10 list ranks brands based on how many people are most unwilling to give up the brand, ranking it a 9 or a 10 on a 0 to 10 scale.  That’s some love … for the USPS.

The United States Postal Service is the same operation that delivers mail to my home any time between 5 and 8pm most nights.

The U.S. Postal Service is the same operation that set up deliveringtrust.com to teach people about preventing mail fraud when they deliver other people’s mail to my home, including “Important Tax Documents” and what look like bank statements, at least once a week.  Yes, they’re handing over to me other people’s sensitive information (which I either take to their house or drop back into a nearby mailbox).

The USPS is the same operation that could not deliver a piece of mail addressed 100% correctly to my wife from a store that’s less than 3 miles from our house – even though they tried twice.

Undelivered undeliverable fail failed address

Though addressed 100% correctly, this letter could not make it less than 3 miles from its source to its destination on either of two attempts. Instead, it was picked up in-store a month later. Blue marks made by me in Photoshop to conceal partially the address for public posting here.

I like to receive mail.  I read many magazines brought to my front door by the mail carrier.  I pay many bills by mail.  We still physically exchange our Netflix DVDs by mail.

I like attachment.  I want to feel attached to our USPS.  The problem is that they consistently give me reasons not to like them.  (TWO WEEK UPDATE: my wife’s been sending packages to a friend in the military overseas requiring two customs forms each time and says our local office has been very helpful and friendly.  Still not attached, though.)

Are you “emotionally attached” to the United States Postal Service?  Positively or negatively?

Do you have a USPS love or hate story you’d like to share here?  Please do!

Links

2010 Leap Index Top 100 as PDF

Ad Age article about 2010 Leap Index

Way Beyond – Excellence in Customer Service

BedBathBeyond

So, you want customer loyalty.  You’d like to enjoy the benefits of positive word-of-mouth, the single most powerful form of advertising.  Here’s an idea: strategically organize yourself around customer needs and interests.

Two ways that Bed Bath and Beyond has earned my family’s loyalty:

1) Absolutely no-hassle returns

On two separate occasions, years apart, and in different states, Bed Bath and Beyond has gone WAY beyond.  The most recent experience involved an $80 Cuisinart coffee maker.  We’re not sure when we bought it – maybe four or five years ago … who knows?  Who cares!?  Bed Bath and Beyond sure doesn’t.

One morning, my wife flicked the “brew” switch and was met with no brewing and the smell of burning plastic.  Not wanting to throw it out, she offered it up to Bed Bath and Beyond for return to and refurbishment by Cuisinart.  With no receipt, no evidence that we purchased it at a Bed Bath and Beyond, and no idea when we’d actually purchased it, the customer service person directed her toward the coffee maker section of the store, had her pull a brand-new version of the same model, and exit the store with it.  No paperwork to fill out – just a brand-new coffee maker.

A few years back, we enjoyed an identical experience with a $40 or $50 tea kettle – owned it for several years, traded it in for a brand-new version of the same model when the handle came loose.  No questions asked and no paperwork required.

That’s an experience worth talking about.  Design a policy that provides that experience to lots of people and you’ve created a word-of-mouth machine.  Before writing this, I told the story to at least a dozen people with enthusiasm.  You can’t buy that kind of advertising.  At worst, it cost them $60 (or whatever their purchase price from Cuisinart is).

2) Nearly no-rules coupons

Bed Bath and Beyond issues lots of coupons (typically 20% off) and lets you use them quite liberally.  Just about the only restriction: you can’t combine them for 100% off an item and some brands sold in-store opt out.

Expiration dates?  They don’t matter.

Only got one coupon?  Take 20% off the highest-price item you’re buying, not the lowest.

Multiple coupons in a single transaction?  No problem – it’s encouraged.

When they show up in the mail, hang on to those Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.  Next time you need a new set of towels or you want to give a dozen Snuggies as gifts, bring them all in and enjoy 20% off every item you buy, provided you’ve got that many coupons.

Important to note: the prices are reasonable with or without the 20% discounts.  In contrast, Kohl’s seems to mark up many items in order to have them constantly “on sale.”  Also in contrast, Kohl’s spends a ton of cash on prime-time television.  Bed Bath and Beyond gets by and even thrives on direct mailing of coupons.

Other observations

In general, the store is reasonably well organized.  It’s got enough solid sections (kitchen tools, cookware, appliances, glassware, bedding, towels, carpeting, etc) to bring you in, each with a reasonable range of brands, styles, and price points.  Plus, they’ve got a ton of unexpected items between sections (think: “who-invented-that!?” type gadgets).  It’s often a pleasant, entertaining and productive shopping experience.

I’d never have expected to write this kind of a post, but a store that will have me walk in with a years-old, non-functioning product and walk out with a brand-new one without any questions or any paperwork is serious about their customers … and that’s something I appreciate.

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