As I read this account, I was more creeped out than impressed. Maybe it is my introverted peronality, but I have no desire to engage my postal worker in dialogue. Don't get me wrong, I am not rude to them and if I'm out in the yard, I will take walk to the Jeep to personally receive my mail with a smile and a thank you. But the USPS has a system in place to handle my mail while I'm out of town, I would prefer to use that service. If my mail carrier went out of their way to talk with me and inquire about my daily habits, I would feel more intruded upon rather than feeling I was receiving extraordinary service.
After my first thought of how I would react personally, my second thought was how I would react professionally. I put myself in the shoes of Fred's boss and Fred's organization. Is this world-class service? Does it increase or decrease price? Is it scalable?
I'll use Amazon.com to convey my thoughts on world-class service. I used to think Amazon.com had world-class service until I started reading about Zappos. It occurred to me that I have never had to deal with Amazon's customer service. I search for an item online, place my order, and wait for it to arrive. It has always arrives in the promised time-frame and the few returns I have made have not required a customer service rep. I can't rate it's customer service because I've never had to use it. So it is with the USPS. My mail shows up everyday (except Sunday) and I never have to call customer service. I don't want extraordinary customer service. I want my mail, I want it on-time, and I want it cheap.
Now what if my mail carrier stopped by every house on her route to chat with her 'customers'. Is that scalable? By no means. She would never be able to finish her route. In fact, I would prefer her not stop because than she could cover more houses and, in theory, keep the price of my stamp down.
The bottom line is that the underlying analogy for the entire book had some serious flaws in my mind and tainted the rest of the book. Mr. Sanburn went on to site dozens of examples of what he considered extraordinary service. For example, one hospital encourages it's staff to walk visitors to their destination whenever they are asked where something is. My first thought was, if the hospital has that much trouble with people finding where they should go, maybe they should invest in better signage. Or better yet, color-code the hallways. I would think that a few cans of paints and a few signs would be a lot cheaper than paying medical staff to escort people around the hospital.
The other serious drawback to the book is the number of cheesy lines in the book. At times it felt like a string of cliches. This really disrupted the flow of the book and made it unenjoyable. Furthermore, his use of 'Fred' got really old really fast.
Freds are everywhere. Freds are everywhere you go. Funny Fred. Accountable Fred. Generous Fred. Other Freds Who Know. Freds Understand Their Clients. Famous Fred. Freds, indeed, are everywhere. (Chapter 2 titles)How to be a Fred - Question: How can we get more Freds in the world? Answer: Be A Fred! How many Freds are in your organization...Do you regret that some of your teammates [are] "the anti-Freds?" It all starts with you. If you want more Freds, be a Fred...It isn't hard. Actually, it's harder not to be a Fred. (page 28)The purpose of this book is to become Fred-like and learn to look at the world thru "Fred-colored glasses". (page 35)Three Final Ideas to Spread Fred: (1) Recognize the Freds in your life. (2) Acknowledge them for their contribution. (3) Pay them back by becoming a Fred, too. (page 78)