A costly case study

Have a look at this ‘day in the life’ of a man who thinks he’s OK at customer care and see if you can spot the 11 mistakes?  Make a note of them on a separate piece of paper

Mike is a delivery man for one of the big supermarkets.  He’s a good driver, and he likes his job and the people he works with.

He sets off for work at 8a.m. as usual and clocks in at the depot by 8.30am – his usual start time.  The woman on the front desk seems a bit grumpy today so he doesn’t smile at her as he takes the delivery schedule off her.

He checks the order thoroughly and plans his route to make the most of his time during the day.  He then checks every order with his colleagues as they are loaded onto the van.  He knows that accuracy is important and mistakes waste time.  Since he is loading fruit, veg and other food produce into the van he makes certain that the inside is clean but doesn’t worry about the outside as that doesn’t affect the food.

Some yoghurt spills onto his uniform but he sponges it off so it doesn’t look too bad.  As long as the food is good and the orders are accurate – that’s what counts.

His wife texts to ask him to get something on the way back from work but he doesn’t understand the text so he gives her a quick call to sort it out.  This makes him ten minutes late which doesn’t bother him as he knows he has a fairly light day.  The traffic is really heavy too which adds another ten minutes but he is relaxed as he knows he can get his deliveries all done by home time.

He gets to his first customer’s address twenty minutes late and struggles to park so he slots the van just in front of her drive knowing he won’t be long.  Mrs Buttercup remarks pleasantly upon the delay.  He explains that the lights and traffic were against him, hands her the order and gives her the paperwork to sign.  At this point his son texts him and he checks the phone, after all, the customer doesn’t seem to mind waiting and it’s only a few seconds.

Feeling at bit distracted he takes back the paperwork says ‘Goodbye’ and goes to the van.  He forgets to pick up one of the plastic packing boxes that he delivered the food in but he’s sure the woman won’t mind.  If she calls to complain he will willingly apologise anyway.

His next call isn’t for five minutes and it’s just around the corner so he makes himself a cigarette for later and sticks it in his mouth for comfort thinking  ‘I’ll enjoy this in a bit’.  He checks the order off and enters the data on the van’s computer, checks his next delivery then starts the engine.

Getting out of the space is a little difficult as someone has now parked behind him, so he backs over the curb and onto the verge in order to get out.

The rest of the day passes in a similar way with all the orders being delivered accurately and signed for.  After a hard day’s work, Mike is tired when he gets home.

After Mrs Buttercup puts the food away she spends the rest of the day working from home.  She has chance to chat to her husband over tea as he explains that he couldn’t get into the drive at lunchtime and had to park round the corner.

He adds ‘This food is lovely.  Was this the stuff that came today?  ‘Yes’ she says ‘but we won’t be using them again – they are a shambles’

Mike’s (the delivery driver) wife arrives back from her job working in customer service and over tea she tells him about her hard day.

‘Phew!  I’m glad I don’t work in customer service’ he says.

So did you spot the 11 mistakes listed below, and would you or anyone you know make these expensive mistakes?


  1. He should have smiled at the woman on the front desk
  2. The outside of the van is important from an image point of view
  3. The clothes of someone working with food , should be immaculate  They should be as clean as possible under the circumstances, in all other areas
  4. He should only respond to personal calls at a convenient time and if it doesn’t negatively affect the business
  5. He shouldn’t block a customer’s drive even for a minute
  6. He should apologise for being late
  7. He should not respond to an unnecessary text in front of a customer as it’s distracting
  8. He should have gone back for the packing case and apologised for leaving what is mess from the customer’s point of view
  9. He shouldn’t put a lit or unlit cigarette in his mouth whilst in the van as it will look as if he’s smoking
  10. He should have asked who owned the car that was blocking him as he has now damaged the neighbourhood’s verge  for weeks or even months
  11. Of course he works in customer service.  It’s a vital part of his job


How much did Mike’s slap dash approach to customer care cost the organisation?

Let’s say Mrs Buttercup spent £100 on the food on her first order

and would have spent this about once a fortnight so that’s £2,600 a year

for say ten years which is £26.000

and would have introduced friends, family or neighbours to the delivery service over a staggered period of time, so let’s just double that to be conservative, so that’s £52,000.

Despite Mike getting the really tasty food safely and accurately delivered by the end of the day, he has cost the company £52,000 on just that one call.

Have you got any Mikes? (My apologies to any conscientious people out there called Mike!)


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Posted on June 13, 2012 and filed under Customer Care.