THE BLOG
10/17/2012 10:48 am ET | Updated Dec 17, 2012

How Almost Getting Hit by a Truck Turned Me Into a Brand Advocate for Life

I love road cycling. I love being outside, feeling the wind and the sun (or any element, really) and the challenge of seeing what speeds and distances my 38-year-old body can attain. I classify my riding as avid. I do train with an amateur team, but prefer not to participate in official races to keep my weekends free for family activities. When not out with a group, I am fine to take to the roads by myself. Last Monday was one such occasion.

It was beautiful day: 85 degrees, gentle breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. Helmet and sunglasses donned, shoes clipped in, and chain freshly de-greased, I headed out on a familiar 35-mile route to clear my mind and enjoy the solitude of solo exercise. I live within the city limits of Indianapolis, but am able to escape to less traveled country roads with just 15 minutes of pedaling. Reaching minute 16, however, can sometimes be a challenge. Maybe in part due to our city's affiliation with auto racing, I have found many a motorist have yet to buy into the concept of "sharing the road" with their leg-powered two-wheel counterparts. Near misses are a regular occurrence.

On minute 3 of Monday's ride I was crossing through a residential neighborhood when I spotted a rapidly approaching UPS truck out of the corner of my eye. I thought nothing of it as he had a stop sign and I did not. Seconds later, when it became clear that the driver did not intend to make a complete stop, I swerved into the (thankfully clear) oncoming lane to avoid a collision as he rolled through the stop sign and turned into my lane.

For next 10 minutes, I contemplated what life would have been like plastered to the front of a brown bus. I then resumed post-adrenaline composure and took solace in the fact that I was still upright and pedaling. Now I must admit, I am not perfect. I make mistakes and it is only fair that I allow others the same consideration. I am also relatively (OK, very) impatient and at times have been known to drive a motor vehicle aggressively. That said, I do not think it is appropriate for a professional driver to commit a traffic violation and broadside a cyclist.

When I arrived safely home I sent the following tweet:

4:20 p.m.: @AndyJankowski: Near miss with @UPS driver while #cycling today. No worries - nobody's perfect - but did make me think about going @Fedex ;-)

What happened next was nothing short of a Social Media best practice case study.

Please note the times listed.

4:28 p.m.: @UPSHelp: Yikes! We'd like to notify your local area. Feel free to email the incident location + contact info to twitter@ups.com.

So, I emailed them:

From: Andy Jankowski

Subject: Cycling incident

Date: July 23, 2012 4:50:14 PM EDT

To: twitter@ups.com

Hi,

Thanks for your kind response to my tweet (@andyjankowski). My near miss cycling incident happened today around 1:30 EST in the Echo Point neighborhood of Indianapolis. I swerved to miss one of your trucks that rolled through a stop sign. No harm done - I understand your drivers are under pressure to make quick deliveries. I have rolled a stop sign before myself. If you could however just mention to your drivers to keep an eye out for us road cyclists we would greatly appreciate it.

Best,

Andy

And they replied:

From: twitter@ups.com

Subject: RE: Cycling incident

Date: July 23, 2012 5:10:39 PM EDT

To: Andy Jankowski

Hi Andy,
Thank you for your email. That definitely doesn't sound like a good situation. I have informed our local management team of what took place today. You should be hearing from someone within one hour to discuss what happened and so that we can make sure that this doesn't happen in the future. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention and allowing me to respond.

Best regards,
[the first and last name of a real person] -- removed as I did not ask for permission to post
UPS Corporate Social Media Team

I received a call less than 20 minutes later.

The person who called was extremely professional and genuinely concerned. They asked a few questions regarding the location of the incident, confirmed that they knew exactly who the driver was and stated that they would be contacting their supervisor and taking the appropriate action to ensure that such an incident did not happen again.

I am now a UPS customer and brand advocate for life.

Needless to say, I was blown away. I cannot remember the last time I have experienced a situation where a large company:

  • Paid careful attention to their (small) actions
  • Responded almost immediately
  • Showed genuine compassion for me as a person
  • Took full responsibility for their actions
  • Followed through and made changes to improve

The day concluded with the following tweets:

@AndyJankowski: Amazed by the responsiveness & genuine concern of @UPSHelp ! I tweeted an issue & received a tweet, email & live call in < 1 hour. Awesome!

@UPSHelp: @AndyJankowski Glad we were able to help! Thanks for the Twitter praise! @UPS

At which point, I thought the conversation was over. It was not.

Two weeks later a UPS delivery driver appeared at my door, handed me a package, thanked me, and went on his way. I opened the package to find a cast iron model UPS delivery truck -- the kind you would find on a CEO's desk. Also included were two toy trucks, one for each of my children. I never told them I had children.

I do hope you will share this story.

I think it is a great example of how social media, done right, can make a lasting impression and secure your company a customer and even a brand advocate for life.

This was originally posted on EnterpriseStrategies.com.