Inside the Mind of Larry Darrow from UPS

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on January 14, 2015 recently got to catch up with Larry Darrow, President of Global Business Services at UPS. Larry manages a 12,000 person organization that handles everything from the responsibilities for the UPS order to cash processes. Larry has been with UPS for over 30 years and knows the ins and outs of its customer service better than most people know the back of their hand. Here’s our interview with Larry.

Why their lofty (top 5) customer perception ranking matters to UPS:

“Customer satisfaction leads to loyalty and repeat business.”

“What the best model is isn’t what’s best for me, it’s what’s best for the customer.”

Channels UPS gets customer feedback from:

“Our drivers are our biggest channel. They typically have 125-175 deliveries every day, not counting pickups, so we can get north of 200 customer contacts a day per driver. We track the feedback they get, segment it by category, and then analyze it to make improvements to our processes.”

UPS also gets feedback from more “traditional” channels via calls, IVR, chat, email, and social media.

How often do customers contact UPS:

UPS gets 300,000 contacts a day, so 110 million a year.

On how customer contact channels are changing:

“I’ve noticed that telephone calls are much shorter than a chat session because someone who is chatting is typically also multi-tasking.”

“We’ve seen self-service become really popular as people want to do it themselves more and more. Chat also grew 4x for us this year.”

“The best model increases how quickly we respond and decreases cost.”

UPS is seeing more growth by percentage from self-service and chat than from traditional channels (email and phone).

Email is actually flattening out or decreasing in frequency as user demographics shift.

People like chatting rather than calling because it allows them to multi-task.

Larry’s recent experience chatting with customer on UPS’s busiest day:

“I sat down and chatted with customers myself a few weeks ago on our peak day, it’s pretty fascinating.”

“I quickly found that there are some common misunderstandings that customers have about logistics, some bottlenecks within our organization, or issues with terminology between how we understand it and how customers interpret it.”

“A chat customer service representative has to be extremely focused that they’re chatting and communicating to the proper customer if they’re chatting with multiple customers about different issues.”

Qualities that UPS looks for in its support reps:  

UPS looks for people who are enthusiastic, friendly, good listeners, good communicators, adaptable, and with a high amount of attention to detail. It’s a really high intensity job so Larry mentioned that they look for people who score high on both personality and competency.

The training support reps receive:

Training is a three week combination of classroom sessions, situational training, and highly controlled environments. Training varies on support segment (brokerage, shipping, tracking, etc.), but is primarily a back and forth between classroom, applying the training in real situations, and then coming back into the classroom for feedback and further training.

How newly minted UPS support agents train chat support versus phone support is totally different. Chat is more direct and to the point. The words you us as an agent during chat and the phrases that are effective are totally different from phones.

Support segmentation at UPS:

“We haven’t always been segmented. When I first got into customer service, *laughs* a long time ago, probably older than you, it was simpler. The services have gotten more complex based on customer needs, our technology, our growth, and the change in customer expectations. As we’ve grown from a couple of million dollars when I started, to 50+ billion now, the specification of training required has changed a lot.”

UPS breaks it out so that an agent only does chat, or only does phones on a given day.

Chat is the last channel a rep graduates to. They have to get on the phones before they can do chat.

What UPS Tracks:

“We’re always benchmarking ourselves both against our competition and against other large multinational corporations so we can understand how our customers perceive us and where we can improve.”

“We’re an engineering organization, we measure everything.”

Data measured by UPS: quality of service provided (internal and external measures), CSAT, service, timeliness, first touch-point resolution, operational statistics for staffing and production.

UPS’s #WishesDelivered Campaign: 

“A woman had ordered a live turtle for her son for Christmas. Based on when the company shipped it to her and the holidays, the package wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the day after Christmas. The customer contacted us with two concerns: the present for her son not arriving on time, and whether the turtle would survive another day in transit. It was unseasonably cold where they were. We went in, found the package using our package tracking system, and made sure it got to her in time for Christmas day, and, in the customer’s eyes, saved the turtle’s life.”

“We delivered snow to 4th graders in Corpus Christi, Texas. They were able to have their first snowball fight ever.”

Key Takeaway:

“It all comes down to meeting and exceeding expectations. In my mind, that’s a measure of the customer service that your organization provides. I don’t think you can exceed customer expectations without innovation.”

Questions about UPS for Larry? Let us know in the comments or @helpdotcom.

Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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