3 Things I Learned About Customer Service While Delivering Newspapers
I grew up in the small town of Cody, Wyoming. In 1993, Cody’s population was about 8,500 residents, and there were less than ten stoplights in the whole town. The town newspaper, The Cody Enterprise, printed twice each week, Monday and Wednesday, both in the afternoon. This made delivering papers for The Enterprise desirable for young entrepreneurs as myself. I was about eleven years old at the time, and felt that it was time to graduate from lemonade stands, and start doing something that paid real money. I made about fifty dollars a month, and it was FANTASTIC! In the years that I delivered newspapers, I picked up a few lessons about taking care of my customers. Following are three of them.
Find out what your customer wants. This may sound silly for a delivery boy who brings around the paper twice each week, but as it turns out, many people are very particular about their newspapers. Some people want it in a newspaper specific box. Some want it placed on the inside of the screen door. Others ask to have it placed right on the doormat. Then there were a few who didn’t care where it was as long as it didn’t land in the bushes, break a window, or hit the cat. These special requests had to be learned and remembered so that I could make the deliveries quickly and efficiently. As I think about where I am today, I consider that some of my favorite businesses to purchase from are those that understand my preferences.
Get it for them. Finding out what people want is only half of the challenge, the other half is also delivering on what you know people want. I can tell you from experience that some people get very angry if you forget to deliver their paper, or deliver it to the wrong place. Today, think of how often businesses fail to execute on what you want. Maybe you order a meal and it’s made incorrectly. Or may you order something online only to find out that it is not really what you hoped for. Or maybe you purchase a product or subscription only to find out that it doesn’t include everything you wanted, or there are exceptions or limitations. Hopefully, people who are serving you are working to deliver effectively based on what your needs and wants are.
Go the extra mile. My friend Tyler also had a paper route, delivering for The Enterprise. We would often head to our newspaper pickup together, get the newspapers, and then meet up when all of our papers had been delivered. I had 52 houses on my route, and he had 76, yet he always finished before me. As it turns out, Tyler’s route was much like the paper boy you see on TV who rides his bike down the street and hits everyone’s garage door with a perfectly thrown newspaper. My route included a lot of apartment complexes and some folks with special requests (in the screen door, in the newspaper box, etc.). Observing how much I walked, and being a curious eleven year-old, I measured the distance of my step and began counting my steps while delivering. I found that while I rode my bike for most of the route, I actually walked for just over one mile to deliver papers. Often times I wondered if it was really worth it. Now as a customer service professional, I recognize the value of literally going the extra mile.
THE BIG REVEAL
My last Christmas delivering, over half of the readers on my route gave me a little something extra. It ranged from two dollars to ten dollars, and one sweet little old lady made me a little package of fudge. The monetary reward was great, but even better was creating new relationships and knowing that I had worked hard, staying dedicated to serving my customers as best as possible. All it took was three simple steps to Discover, Deliver, and Do More.