When it comes to mail forwarding, most center operators think they’ve got it pretty well covered. It’s a fundamental part of the basic Virtual Office service, after all.
But unfortunately a survey of clients shows that, far too many don’t share the same view.
Simply scratch the surface and you’ll find a worrying amount of complaints relating to slow service, inefficiencies and disappearing mail.
This isn’t just your competitor’s problem, nor is it confined to big corporate names who appear on message boards and complaint forums a little too often. It’s an industry-wide problem.
And since we’re in the service industry, where reputation and customer satisfaction takes precedence, it’s everyone’s problem – including yours.
Here’s what we found after a quick online search (client and operator names have been withdrawn):
“I sent a test piece of mail to see if it was forwarded to me and nothing came through. This was 6 months after paying them about $100 per month for the services. I complained and they told me the account was not setup correct. I argued that they could have let me know about this instead of just continuing to charge me each month for a service I was not getting… and they just did not want to admit any fault. In my experience, I felt like we have been treated unfairly and not professional.”
“We are currently using [Name of Operator] and we are having issues getting our mail forwarded in a timely manner. We have virtual offices in  cities and plan on adding another 7 in the next couple months.”
“After some time, we had received no forwarded mail, which didn’t seem right. So, we sent some test items by first class post. Weeks later, none of these had been forwarded to us. When we wrote to complain, no explanation was offered for this baffling failure. They also just didn’t seem to get or acknowledge that failing to forward mail was a pretty fundamental breach of contract for a mail-forwarding service.”
Subsequent comments suggest that some of these complaints have since been rectified. But when mail forwarding is a core component of your service, such errors should not be allowed to happen at all — much less without explanation.
Breaking down the problem
Based on discussions with Mike Sullivan from Alliance Virtual Offices, their mystery shopping, market research, and first person anecdotal evidence leads us to suggest there are 4 key problems affecting the mail distribution service:
- Incorrect or Incomplete Set-up: New clients are not correctly set-up by the Business or Coworking Center. Incomplete contact details or missing forwarding information means initial mail cannot be sent out. Sometimes this is the fault of the center, sometimes the client, and often both.
- Aliases Not Recognized: The new client doesn’t provide all the different names or aliases that mail may be addressed to, such as DBAs, LLCs, employee names or spouse name. The center doesn’t recognize the name, sometimes leading to delay, but usually resulting in unforwarded mail.
- Inconsistency: The process of sorting and distributing mail at the center is inconsistent, which may be due to new employees, temporary staff, or a lack of formal and ongoing training.
- Timeliness: Between the time it takes for mail to be received, sorted and sent to the center’s mail room, on top of the standard turnaround time by mail service providers like USPS, clients may expect to receive mail far quicker than it can feasibly be processed.
As a workspace operator, you might think your service runs like clockwork. But there are always times when the front desk is frantically busy, the phone rings off the hook, mail is late arriving or the system is down.
Sometimes, it’s inexcusable inefficiency like poor training, or perhaps more frequently, lack of ongoing training, and a subsequently low level of service.
Unless you know where you’re failing, you won’t be able to improve your services. Ask the right questions and test yourself.
When was the last time you sent a survey to your Virtual Office clients to check up on customer service satisfaction?
Have you ever carried out a ‘mystery shop’ on your own mail handling service?
How often do you conduct test mailings to check for key service performance indicators like timeliness and successful delivery?
Such research will put your finger right on the pulse of your mail handling service. If problems do exist, you’ll have a prime opportunity to get to the root cause of the issue and nip it in the bud — before your Center ends up on a complaints forum.