The FedEx driver stopped by this morning and dropped off a package. We had a nice chat about the weather, the roads, and motorcycles. The Express envelope that was delivered contained an Express envelope for some materials I had to return to the Washington Speakers Bureau. The driver told me he would be passing back through the area at the end of the day and could pick up the envelope — as long as I called by noon.
I decided to use the web site instead of calling. The site insisted that I could not request a pickup unless I was a registered user, so I went through the registration process, filled out a page of personal information. After submitting it, the site asked for my FedEx account number. I don’t have one. I entered the WSB account number on the envelope and the system then said it must be an error because the address for that account number does not match the address I had entered. I gave up on the web site and called the FedEx 800 number. The customer service agent was very nice but she couldn’t help me because her PC was "frozen". After being on hold for quite a while I called again. This time the customer service agent said she could help but that it was past the pickup cutoff time for today. I explained that the driver had told me that he goes right past my location at the end of every day and that he said he could pick it up. "I am sure he could", she said, "but the system will not allow me to make the request. It is past the cutoff."
Things like this are what prompted me to write "Net Attitude". Is the situation I encountered caused by technical issues? I would argue not. Surely there are technical issues and policy issues but the bigger issue is to meet the rising expectations for On Demand services. If a customer can call and request a pickup without having an account number, why can’t they go to the web site and request a pickup without a customer number? Could the "system" send a message to the driver and ask if he could pick up the envelope? Could the customer service process been to tell the customer that the cutoff has been reached but that a wireless message will be sent to the closest driver and if he is able to pick up the envelope he will, otherwise he will pick it up tomorrow? Could the system send me an email to let me know if it would be picked up today or not?
FedEx is a brilliant and innovative company with huge systems resources. It is amazing what they do everyday, and being in the hotly competitive business they are in, they continue to get better and better. At the same time, as we all experience new and better services via the Internet, our expectations increase. On Demand is a big job for businesses, governments, hospitals, and schools. It means that the customer can get what they want, when they want it, any time, anywhere, using whatever device they choose to connect to the Internet.