UPS at the crossroads : what can “brown” do for itself?

Seismic disturbances in the way the world moves goods (and the goods it moves) have left UPS and other delivery carriers struggling with crushing volumes and daunting handling challenges due to sanitary requirements. The larger share of the “volume mix” has shifted to residential deliveries and while handlers and drivers can’t keep up, profits are down (more driving, rarely more than one drop per address, no premium services). Heck of a brown storm (as it were).

Unfortunately, one of the larger shipping and logistics companies in the world has, of late, been standing still with respect to its communication efforts. UPS has wasted little time waving the flag (and the cheque book) in its home country in response to matters of social activism (and well it should), but it has not been as proactive in matters related to its core business. The UPS brand has become the subject of ridicule. Online reviews may be considered specious by some, but the numbers in one sampling are stark. Nearly 900 reviews of “UPS Canada” gathered and moderated by Google show an average approval rating of 1.2 stars (out of 5). Most reviews that were written in recent weeks express a tacit understanding that delays are to be expected due to the pandemic, but clients are left howling by the inconsistent fashion in which the company is supporting its clients.

Sh*t happens. We know it’s happening, you know it’s happening, but let’s talk anyway. Let’s talk about what a driver and a sorting plant worker did on what used to be a “normal” day and what he or she does today. Let’s talk about the support person who answers calls or emails and patiently wades through waters filled with gnarling and snapping clients. Show me, so that I may understand. Show me, so that I may, for an instant, put myself in the place of the person who is slogging through a work day under unusual and trying circumstances. Heros are good for your brand.

This is anathema, of course, in a world where “your call is important to us” and we must go out of our way to make it look like all systems are operating normally.

A client at wits’ end won’t stand for it anymore. What was once a lark, is now a necessity. Transparency sells.  

(Example – Canada Post “Day in the life” video via Radio-Canada – in French, but the concept and the approach are easy to grasp:

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