Waiting for UPS Bunny by Max Estes First...the timeline.

September 2005. I meet Thor Muller at a Techcrunch party.

September 2007. Thor and others get funding for GetSatisfaction.com

October 2007. I get a book deal for The Whuffie Factor. Time to start researching!

Late 2007. The folks at GetSatisfaction.com announce a conference they are throwing, Customer Service is the New Marketing. Tony Hsieh from Zappos is on the roster. I ask Thor for an introduction so I can interview Tony for my book.

January 2008. I fly out to Las Vegas to meet Tony and his team and totally fall in love with everything about Zappos. They become a bigger part of my book and Tony and I continue to talk. He gets interested in Twitter.

March 8, 2008. Tony starts tweeting.

March 8 - November 26, 2008 - Tony picks up Twitter like second nature, gains over 23,000 followers, gets featured in national magazines and we keep in good touch.

November 26, 2008. I order a lovely new storage unit from Target.com to help me de-clutterize my home. Estimated delivery date: December 10, 2008.

December 7, 2008. I return from a trip to New York City to find two attempted delivery notices on my door from UPS from Friday, December 5, 2008. 1st and 2nd notice. I logon to UPS.com with my tracking number and request a re-delivery of December 10, 2008, a day I have already set aside to work from home. I also call to confirm. All set.

December 10, 2008. 7:30 a.m. - I wake up early to walk Ridley (my dog) so that I can be home and ready in case the package comes first thing in the morning (8:00 a.m.).

December 10, 2008. 9:30 a.m. - my friend, Seth, comes over to take away the table where the storage unit is going to go later that day. Excited. I run downstairs to put some sticky 'heart' notes on the door to let the UPS delivery person know I'm upstairs and waiting.

December 10, 2008. 12:00 p.m. - I haven't heard anything, so I logon to UPS.com and see that the tracking hasn't been updated. I call the 1-800 number to find out more information and am told that the package is on the truck for delivery, but they can't give me a specific time. I wait.

December 10, 2008. 1:00 p.m. - I tweet that I'm at the mercy of UPS delivery.

December 10, 2008. 2:00 p.m. - I ask my roommate, Jen, who has a migraine if she can watch for UPS while I shower, then walk Ridley and instruct her to call me as soon as they arrive and I'll rush home.

December 10, 2008. 4:00 p.m. - I call and reschedule a meeting I have with potential clients to the restaurant downstairs from my apartment at 6:00 p.m. so I can watch for the UPS truck just in case.

December 10, 2008. 5:00 p.m. - I tweet a suggestion to UPS to add text aheads or GPS UPS Post-Itstracking to their service so that people don't get stuck waiting all day like I have.

December 10, 2008. 6:00 p.m. - I have a terribly distracted meeting, constantly looking out the window for the UPS truck. I've left more little sticky 'heart' notes with the information that I am downstairs in case I missed the delivery with my cell number on it.

December 10, 2008. 7:00 p.m. - I go back upstairs. Still nothing. Sticky notes still there waiting. I tweet again. Then I call and a hold recording tells me that, due to holiday deliveries, I may receive packages after 7:00 p.m. Others tell me they've received packages as late as 10:00 p.m.

December 10, 2008. 9:15 p.m. - I'm getting really upset. No UPS. My tweets are getting agitated.

December 10, 2008. 9:17 p.m. - Tony direct messages me asking me for some of the delivery information and I send it back to him.

December 10, 2008. 9:26 p.m. - Tony direct messages me to tell me the President of the Pacific Region for UPS is on the phone tracking the package down for me.

December 10, 2008. 9:40 p.m. - Tony tells me that UPS will be calling me soon.

December 10, 2008. 9:41 p.m. - I get a phonecall from Lorraine, the Regional Security Director for UPS. She gets my story and hangs up to find out what happened and get the package to me asap.

December 10, 2008. 9:46 p.m. - While I'm on the phone with Lorraine, Jerry, the President of the Pacific Region leaves me a voicemail. He's actually having dinner with Tony and is on the case.

December 10, 2008. 9:50 p.m. - I call Jerry back, who apologizes perfusively and tells me to keep his number on hand for ANY issues I ever encounter with UPS.

December 10, 2008. 9:55 p.m. - I tweet out thank you's to Tony and finally take Ridley for his nightly walk. (he was so patient)

December 10, 2008. 10:53 p.m. - Lorraine calls back. She says they are tracking everything down and it should be able to get out to me tonight. I tell her as long as it's delivered before 10:00 a.m. on the 11th, I will be fine. Time to write this blog post.

UPDATE:

December 11, 2008. 7:45 a.m. - Lorraine calls. The delivery is ready to come out. She asks me what time would be convenient for me? I tell her 9:00 a.m. I take Ridley for his morning walk.

December 11, 2008. 8:55 a.m. - My doorbell rings and I run downstairs. I see not only ONE UPS delivers! And then some! but THREE UPS delivery men standing on my doorstep. One with the delivery. One with flowers and chocolates. And one with treats for Ridley! They bring everything up and Michael, the security manager, tells me he brought tools and is happy to help me assemble the unit. I don't have time this morning, but I may take him up on it later. :)

What a saga! But the saga is filled with Whuffie lessons.

#1. If I hadn't met Thor, who introduced me to Tony, who I forged a friendship with over time, who hadn't been dining with Jerry, I probably wouldn't have had this level of awesome attention. These are amazing connections (combined with a little bit of luck). This is the importance of being part of that community you serve as a participant.

#2. If Tony and I hadn't been such Twitter addicts - watching our networks, spending time following people and getting to know people - he wouldn't have seen my distressed tweets about the delivery and couldn't have had that conversation with Jerry. This shows the importance of turning the bullhorn around...listening...watching for feedback...watching for ways to help out.

#3. Because this happened in a spectacular way, loads of people watched and were delighted by the story. This going above and beyond gave Zappos a load of Whuffie. UPS Whuffie for turning things around. And even gave Whuffie to Thor and myself in indirect ways. Definitely all achieved through creating an amazing customer experience (after a not so amazing one).

#4. This couldn't have been planned better. How was Tony to know the night he was to have dinner with Jerry that I'd be in UPS distress? How would Jerry have ever known? How would I have guessed? Pretty awesome 'chance'. Almost the perfect storm. This is definitely the benefit of embracing the chaos.

#5. And finally, without Tony's own commitment to customer service and dedication to giving back to the community, he wouldn't have been there checking his tweets and listening to what people are talking about. Tony's dedication to the higher purpose of Zappos - the 10 core values - makes him the type of CEO who wields his influence for good, bringing loads more Whuffie.

And the really important thing to note here is that I see this type of thing happen all of the time. This is the one of the few that I've documented so closely, but it really does happen more and more as my own Whuffie grows. And these are stories that people repeat and get picked up by even the traditional media (just like Frank at Comcast who was on ABC News for a similar story with a friend of mine, Tracey Lee Wallace), which then gets spread further. As you can see, Whuffie is a powerful enhancer for word of mouth. Which is exactly why it's at the core of the power of online communities.

36 Comments