Someone finally called me and made all my dreams come true...well, my FedEx dreams, anyhow. I learned a tremendous amount about customer relationship management. My office may not do $100k of business a year with FedEx, but I expect a certain level of service from a global corporation. It is a bit disgraceful that I spent so long on the phone.
Escalation is a key concept in most kinds of customer service. A pyramid of people reach out to the customer, and try to solve the problem. Effectively passing the customer from one level to another keeps costs down. Some searching for such a pyramid approach on Google leads me to believe that most of the innovation around this idea is in IT services.
A lot of the guidelines for IT organizations (from corporate internal tech support to Oracle's customer support process) focus on delivering a promised level of service to the customer, and also on guaging ther severity of the problem the customer faces. Other call center and general CRM approaches seek to apply the most resources to the customers with the highest lifetime value- and making data about the customer's contacts witht he firm available to representatives in multiple areas.
But where was I fitting in to FedEx's list? The Gestalt hypothesis suggests that if they had reached out to me more, i might have been satisfied even if they had been unable to solve the problem. My expereicne was that this only went so far. At a certain point, after several CSRs called to try to "fix" the problem, or left an idiotic message with an invitation to wade through 85 layers of other robots with southern drawls (no offense, actually they are all nioce people, but even the Second Death Star had plumbing contractors ) by calling 800.go.fedex.
I'm still thhinkoing about this and when I find the right way to capture how FedEx should be operating, I'll post it for sure.