The United States enjoys the most reliable, efficient postal system of anywhere I’ve lived or visited. It’s so reliable and efficient that we easily take it for granted. In my life, I’ve had very, very few items (goods or papers) lost or damaged at the hands of the USPS. The most memorable was a care package from my grandmother with homemade cookies. It disappeared and I later received a greasy note from a postal dispatch center apologizing in vague terms for what happened to my package. I concluded that those cookies had found their way into someone’s hungry belly!
Recently, a torn envelope arrived enclosed in a USPS envelope with a large, clear window. The back of the USPS envelope had a note from the Postmaster:
WE CARE. Dear valued postal customer, I want to extend my sincere apology as your Postmaster for the enclosed document that was inadvertently damaged in handling by your Postal Service.
We are aware how important your mail is to you. With that in mind, we are forwarding it to you in an expeditious fashion.
The United States Postal Service handles over 202 billion pieces of mail each year. While each employee makes a concerted effort to process, without damage, each piece of mail, an occasional mishap does happen.
We are constantly working to improve our processing methods so that these incidents will be eliminated. You can help us greatly in our efforts if you will continue to properly prepare and address each letter or parcel that you enter into the mainstream.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding and sincerely regret any inconvenience that you have experienced.
I was surprised by the unsolicited mea culpa, and even more impressed when I realized that the USPS had gone through the trouble to enclose and expedite this particular envelope: a piece of junk mail. If it had been something important, the effort the USPS took to acknowledge and claim responsibility for the damage – and to remind me how incredibly rare such damage is (out of 202 billion!) – would have dissuaded me from complaining.
This is an example of preemptive damage control by demonstrating with product and service decisions the company’s commitment to quality service and its high regard for its customers. Sorry, USPS, but I still take you for granted, even as I applaud the way you handled my damaged credit card offer. That’s a compliment.