Show all episodes

Please Mr. Postman featuring Michael Mattson

Released on MARCH 1, 2024

The 1961 hit, Please Mr. Postman, performed by the Marvelettes, was the first #1 single for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records.It carried a plea for the Postman to deliver news from the singer’s boyfriend who was, presumably, at war.

The United States Postal System pre-dates the United States of America by nearly a year.Formed July 26th, 1775 by the Second Continental Congress, today’s Postal Service operates over 30,000 post offices serving over 163 million homes and businesses.It is the largest civilian employer in the country with roughly 500,000 full-time employees.Because it’s one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the Constitution of the United States and operates under a Universal Service Obligation, it touches the lives of nearly every person living in the United States.You could argue that no one has a larger, more diverse customer base in the U.S.

My guest today, Michael Mattson, spent over 9 years working in various roles at the Postal Service, much of that focused on Customer Experience.

We discuss:

  • Customer touch points
  • Affecting change in a large organization
  • Navigating organizational politics
  • Linking Customer Experience to financial metrics
  • Formalizing customer feedback
  • The importance of effective communication and conflict resolution

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn

Music courtesy of Big Red Horse


Rob Dwyer (00:02.791)
Yes, I am Rob Dwyer and I've got Michael Mattson next in queue. Hi, Michael. How are you?

Michael Mattson (00:09.544)
Doing well, how are you?

Rob Dwyer (00:11.263)
I am great. I've got some coffee. The weather's turning for the good. We're getting out of the deep freeze, which is always a good thing. Today, we're going to talk something a little bit different than I think would I typically talk. We are going to talk about customer experience, but we're going to look at it through a little bit of a different lens.

Michael Mattson (00:18.562)
Right, right.

Rob Dwyer (00:40.223)
But before we do that, tell us a little bit about you and what you're doing today.

Michael Mattson (00:49.366)
Yeah, sure. So, you know, I've been in the customer experience space for several years now, um, coming from the postal service and now working for an insurance organization that, um, you know, really trying to help advocate for customers, make sure that their voices are heard and that we're considering it at every stage, um, but just have a passion for. For.

really helping organizations become more emotionally intelligent. And a lot of that is taking into consideration what our customers are really asking for.

Rob Dwyer (01:29.391)
Yeah. Well, the lens of the post office USPS is kind of where I wanted to put our focus today. You're not there currently, but you spent almost a decade with the postal service and did a lot of really interesting things there. And, and you and I have kind of been working on potentially having this conversation for.

Michael Mattson (01:45.774)
That's right.

Rob Dwyer (01:58.883)
Ah gosh, it's been many, many months, probably close to six months, and we're finally making it happen now. Let's start out. Paint a picture for us, and I would say for everyone, whether you have experience with a post office because you're in the US or not, paint a picture for us of, number one, all of the,

Michael Mattson (02:03.883)

Rob Dwyer (02:28.255)
different types of customers that exist when you are with the postal service.

Michael Mattson (02:39.19)
Yeah. Um, the postal service is really an interesting organization because it has the unique positioning to where it really touches and impacts everybody. All right. So we're talking about, you know, every individual we're talking about, um, businesses, we're talking about businesses of all sizes too. We're talking about other government agencies. So.

Our customers in the postal service spans across the gamut, right? It's not limited to a specific segmentation. It is the entire population of the country, including. You know, every, every different aspect. Right. So it's, it's kind of a different.

A different kind of situation where you don't have like a target market in a way. Your target market is anybody who wants to communicate with someone else.

Rob Dwyer (03:35.411)

Rob Dwyer (03:40.075)
Yeah, yeah, I feel like most businesses who are thinking about customer experience. Have a set of personas that they are working from and. You know, I think about the businesses that we work with here at Happy to and.

That is a wide variety, but still a pretty limited subset compared to everybody, which is what you've got with the postal service. It's everybody. And so also you've got a wide variety of touch points, probably wider than any other business. So let's talk a little bit about.

Michael Mattson (04:12.598)

Rob Dwyer (04:32.683)
those customer touch points as well. Can you just talk a little bit about the scope there?

Michael Mattson (04:40.786)
Oh yeah. Um, you know, we're interacting where, you know, with the postal service, interacting with customers. Um, you know, you have in person, you have digitally, you know, online, you have, um, you know, you have a touch point through pretty much any kind of medium that you can think of. So, you know,

And even, you know, just through the mail system, right? So there's, there's so many different mediums that you're interacting with customers and it's not really limited. And I think the, the one thing that really sets the postal service aside is that all of these touch points are very, very personal. And so when I say that, I mean, you know, the postal service, there's, there's a weight.

Rob Dwyer (05:08.425)

Michael Mattson (05:34.942)
around the interactions about what people are trying to do through the mail system. Right. And it could be from a very personal level, as far as trying to, you know, connect with friends and family or pay their bills with, or with companies, um, or, you know, go through legal battles. Right. So you have so much emotion within each and every touch point.

Rob Dwyer (06:01.243)
Yeah, it really is an interesting. Model in that I know. Uh, there are. There are only a handful of businesses that we work with that, uh, we eagerly await almost on a daily basis. Maybe we're waiting for a letter or a package. Um, I also think that the post office is unique.

particularly when it comes to the cost of a letter. People might disagree with the cost of packages, which is a whole separate thing, and there are other providers for that. But when you think about being able to send a letter anywhere across the country to any address and do it for the cost of a stamp, it's pretty amazing what the postal service is able to accomplish. And yet...

Michael Mattson (06:32.451)

Rob Dwyer (06:58.751)
There are opportunities when it comes to customer experience. And so I want to talk through some of the ways that you approached customer experience there, because I think one of the things that I want to explore. That I think will resonate with the audience is the postal service is a huge organization. It is.

Michael Mattson (07:03.054)

Rob Dwyer (07:28.523)
I have no idea actually how many employees it has, hundreds of thousands, 650,000, right? That's a lot. So an organization that large, you weren't like at the very top, and yet you were trying to affect change from a customer experience standpoint. And I think that's something that a lot of people can resonate with. They may not be...

Michael Mattson (07:32.254)
About 650,000, roughly.

Rob Dwyer (07:57.419)
the CXO, they may not have carte blanche to make huge decisions and yet you may be trying to make things better for customers. So can you talk about your approach and maybe some specific things that you did and lessons that you learned along the way?

Michael Mattson (07:59.436)

Michael Mattson (08:18.706)
Yeah, absolutely. Rob, this is a very interesting question because I can't tell you how many times I've heard this from our own employees, right? At the ground level, like how do you create change when this is such a big ship? Right. And it can be so overwhelming and it can be disheartening, right? Because you see all of these decisions made without really having the context and understanding of why they're being made and like, how do you, I

Rob Dwyer (08:32.552)

Michael Mattson (08:46.706)
How do I change that? How do I influence that? And so the concept of influence, you know, on an, on an informal level came, um, pretty early on in my career, right? Like I started as a letter carrier and as soon as I got into, you know, carrying mail and, you know, kind of, I did that for a couple of years and realized, Hey, maybe this isn't my jam. And then, you know, I got into, got into frontline management, right?

And I wanted to, I wanted to see how I can help improve the postal service and. You know, especially bringing in the feedback in person that I would get from customers and talking to them on my route, or, you know, they're coming into the retail lobby or whatever, right? You start really getting this, this passion for taking care of the people. Right. And so when it comes to affecting change.

You can't just let the forces just, you know, just do what they're going to do. Right. You can't just let that be. You got to challenge the status quo. So I think the very first thing was right- sizing my mindset or aligning my mindset. because I think that until you understand that you can create change, you're never going to create change because you're going to be the first and last person to hold yourself back.

Rob Dwyer (10:00.826)

Michael Mattson (10:14.486)
Right. So remove that barrier, say you have to recognize that, Hey, I can make change. But sometimes it means like bringing in the scope of that change. Right. So at first I would start, you know, very specific to my office, right? That was one area that I had control over or influence over. I had a community that relied on me. Right. And my team. So.

Rob Dwyer (10:40.148)

Michael Mattson (10:42.326)
Realizing that, Hey, I can make these little incremental changes and that can create exponential, um, improvement for these customers. And even if it starts with a few customers realizing that they are being listened to and that we are doing something about their concerns, then you can start gaining momentum and you can really create some pretty.

It pretty impressive change within a community and then it just builds from there. So I think at every level within my various roles within the postal service, I had to first understand, well, what do I have influence over what's within my locus of control, what's outside of it. Right. And then focus on the stuff that you can control first. Right. And you can start influencing things that you can't control, but focus on the stuff right within your own, within your own home first.

Rob Dwyer (11:27.679)

Michael Mattson (11:39.434)
Right. Do, do housekeeping, right? Making sure that you treat your employees, your direct employees correctly. And that they're taken care of so that you have a positive employee experience that translates to that positive customer experience, break those cycles. Right. And demonstrate to the rest of the organization, even if they don't notice at first that this is some, these are positive changes that are occurring because I am not surrendering to all of these challenges.

Rob Dwyer (11:39.592)

Rob Dwyer (12:10.111)
How did you go about or did you go about communicating successes that you had or believe that you had to try and spread that further away than just where you were?

Michael Mattson (12:26.974)
Yeah. So if that took a little bit of strategy, right? Because I knew that if I wanted to affect change that expanded beyond just my office or just my region, right? I had to do some, some networking. I had to build those connections. I had to, um, be courageous in putting myself out there and saying, Hey, you know, this is what I'm doing. This, these are the effects. And I think what, what the battle.

that it came down to was, you know, if am I doing this to stroke my ego and put a feather in my cap or is my intent actually to showcase that, Hey, we can make these changes that this process is working for me and it might work for you and really create, um, a culture of hope. Right. And I think in the postal service where we have some morale issues or hats, you know, I'm not with them anymore, but we had morale issues. Right. And so.

Rob Dwyer (13:23.689)

Michael Mattson (13:25.358)
you had to combat that negativity, right? And the toxicity around that, just that heaviness. And you had to demonstrate to those around you that it's, this is not this in movable, like immovable force, right? This is something that we can actually make a difference and that it kind of snowballs from there. Right. But I did have to

I had to work with internal communications teams, right? And then leverage my network with that. Like I happened to have, I was starting to build those connections just because of the type of roles that I was working in. Because as I climbed the ladder, I really focused in on like that customer relations, that consumer affairs kind of approach. And like there was a lot of kind of cross-functional coordination there, right? And so that actually gave me

a platform in a way, because I took those challenges. I took all of the, the complaints and the things that nobody else wanted to deal with all of the, those headaches. And I put myself into those spots with the intention of creating change. And I started making a difference by getting down to the root cause and just listening, and then those people that I worked with just started recognizing that change and they're like, what are you doing? Right. And so people, I think.

People don't want to come to work and fail. They don't want to come to work and let down their customers. But when you have an environment that that's the norm and that heaviness is out there, then it feels like you're just kind of taking your place. You can't change any of that. So just keep your head down and do your job, your little job.

But I think that just breaking through that and giving our employees and your team members, your coworkers, senior leadership, the light at the end of the tunnel, that vision and the enthusiasm behind it. And sometimes I was called a fool many times, right? Like what, what do you think you're going to be able to do? Right. You're, you know, There's all of this, like nothing's ever going to change. Right. I, so many times I encountered that mentality.

Michael Mattson (15:46.002)
And you just gotta let it roll off your back and just keep moving forward. Because one thing that really shows those kinds of people with that negativity is showing things when they work, right? Showing that you're actually making that change. You don't have to say anything about it. You just have to prove it to them. And then they actually turn up when they start to see that change being affected. Then they sometimes become your biggest cheerleaders and they're like, let me get on board with that. So it's all about breaking through that ice.

Rob Dwyer (15:57.459)

Rob Dwyer (16:11.281)

Rob Dwyer (16:17.671)
I think with large organizations in general, particularly if they've been around a long time, you do get that jaded mentality if there's a bad environment or a particular area that maybe has had some toxic leadership in the past and people throw up those walls. Yeah, absolutely. And you're right. Like I...

Michael Mattson (16:36.946)
Yeah. Trauma.

Rob Dwyer (16:47.107)
up until just a year ago, I lived in Missouri for many, many years. It's the show me state, right? And that is an attitude sometimes that you have to keep in mind. Like I just need to show how this works because there will be people who are not going to listen to the excitement that I may have about what will happen when we do X, Y, and Z. Like...

Michael Mattson (16:56.086)

Michael Mattson (17:12.471)

Rob Dwyer (17:15.935)
They just need to see X, Y, and Z. And then maybe we can have a conversation about it. One of the things that you kind of touched on, but I want to dig a little bit deeper into, because I think this very much exists in the corporate world. And that's navigating some of the politics that comes with trying to affect change. So you talked about people labeling you as a fool at times.

Michael Mattson (17:17.954)

Michael Mattson (17:39.859)

Rob Dwyer (17:45.535)
Some of those people may have had some influence over how things work or may have had their own little fiefdom that they were trying to protect or look good for. How did you go about navigating the politics that I think is inherent in any large organization?

Michael Mattson (17:52.554)

Michael Mattson (18:09.786)
Uh, well, caveat to that, it's evident in any organization and any relationship. Right. So this is not something that you can escape from and it's not unique to large organizations, corporate world, public service, anything, right. There's always going to be politics because there are conflicting agendas. Right. Whenever there's that headbutting and people have something that they want to do. Then.

Rob Dwyer (18:17.172)

Rob Dwyer (18:32.341)

Michael Mattson (18:38.986)
you're going to have politics. So that was a very real thing. And I think, you know, the first thing again, came back to how do I mentally approach this, right? Knowing the politics and you know, people can get really, you know, shut down because they're like, Oh, it's all just, you know, the red tape. It's all politics. Like what can you do about it? But when you realize that, that the, the source of the fact, like the reason why there's politics, the fact that there's

There's these very complex, like human dynamics, right? And these, everybody has their, their own goals and desires and, and own visions and, and I'm not saying that in like a negative way, that's a very positive way, right? But the fact that they're not always completely aligned creates this, this dynamic of, you know, those conflicting forces and you have to play the game a little bit right? You have to understand. And I think by playing the game, I mean, you have to understand the rules of the game.

Rob Dwyer (19:20.053)

Michael Mattson (19:35.562)
You have to understand the environment that you're working with and you can't be naive to that you have to that's part of the equation. It's not something that you can remove. So when you, when you remember that, then you're actually going to have a lot better luck. Let's not say luck a lot better results, right? Cause it's not luck. It's full, fully intentional. It takes a lot of effort, but you're going to, you're going to be able to create change because now you can understand.

Rob Dwyer (19:43.083)

Rob Dwyer (19:55.443)

Michael Mattson (20:04.49)
what the people within these, this organization, right? The people, what their motives are. And you have to be perceptive to that, understand the language people are speaking and find that common ground, right? And once you find that common ground, then you can build a vision off of that. And you're gonna get more people on board because it doesn't conflict with their vision. Instead it's complimentary. And so it can be a win-win and realizing that, you know,

You have to have an abundance mindset, right? Like we can all win, like our customers can win, our organization can win and be profitable. And, you know, if you're in a corporation that's gone public, like your shareholders can win, like it can be synergistic, right? And everybody can be successful in that environment, but you have to consider all of the variables.

And you have to be perceptive and you have to listen, you have to observe, and you have to, um, be a little flexible in your mindset, right? And know that your path to affect this change, this gets to this vision. It's not going to be linear, right? You have to take the necessary steps and think about it, you know, as if it's a game of chess and realize that every move has to be intentional. And at the end, get you to where you want to go. but sometimes you're going to have to.

think on your feet and realize that you need to bend with that wind and kind of go with it for a minute until you can start to pull it back towards your vision.

Rob Dwyer (21:47.299)
You just touched on so many things there. One of the things that I hear, you're not using the words, but you use them earlier and I hear it just oozing out and that's emotional intelligence, right? Just being perceptive about the people around you, understanding what is motivating them, driving them and how you can get through to them and get alignment with them.

Michael Mattson (22:00.908)

Rob Dwyer (22:16.263)
So I really love that. What I want to explore is maybe a specific time that you did feel like, OK, I'm sacrificing my pawn right here. And I understand that this is going to be short term, maybe a little bit painful. But this is where I'm headed with this. And

Michael Mattson (22:31.394)

Rob Dwyer (22:45.083)
why I'm willing to do that. Do you have a specific example? And I know maybe you can only get so specific, but can you provide us maybe some high level outlines of a situation where that happened?

Michael Mattson (23:01.018)
Yeah, you know, I think on a general level, What comes to mind is really that conflict a lot of times between experience metrics and operational metrics. An organization like the Postal Service to achieve its efficiency and effectiveness. It's very operational. Right. And so that pulls into its culture. And so I personally am very

Rob Dwyer (23:22.58)

Michael Mattson (23:30.482)
expirient like experience oriented, right? Because I mean, that's my role. That's like my passion makes sense. Right. And so when there's

so much focus on the operations, then if you come in with all of your customer experience metrics and you start pushing those without consideration of the operational metrics, people are gonna laugh you out of the room. And it's not because, It's probably not even because they don't think that the customer's experience is important, it's because they don't think that you're considering the reality of the way that we accomplish the work.

Rob Dwyer (24:12.627)

Michael Mattson (24:12.958)
And so I think that really taught me a lesson about customer experience. And as a customer experience practitioner is we have to consider it all together. Right. We have to understand where those operational metrics translates to customer impact and then start using that common language with the more operational minded. Um, and. And start

showing them how it all, how it all works in this entire ecosystem, right? Because it's not, it's not siloed. It's not, you know, it's not in a vacuum. And so they may think that it's kind of in a vacuum, because they're all, you know, they have their blinders up, they're all focused on just getting the job done, and how to measure that. And

Rob Dwyer (24:55.804)

Michael Mattson (25:09.242)
You can, you can show them the way and show them that, Hey, this translates directly to how, you know, how it takes care of our customers and then bring it back to the financials. Because if you don't create those financial link, which linkages, there's not going to be really that any incentive to, to really drive that. Right. And you can come in and say, but the customer's important, right. But you know, we're here for the customer and that only goes so far.

Rob Dwyer (25:17.803)

Michael Mattson (25:35.538)
It really, I mean, unfortunately it does. And I think that's the case in any organization because the connection, like there's so many different things that are just designed to separate us emotionally from our customers. Even the label of customer is a way of separating that, right? It's kind of strips the humanity. And so us as CX practitioners, we have to, we have to rebuild that connection and show that.

Rob Dwyer (25:37.592)

Rob Dwyer (25:55.984)

Michael Mattson (26:04.418)
These individuals are humans that are complex and have all of these different needs, desires, requirements, feedback, you know, um, but also here's how the operational metrics influence them, impact them and drive their behavior and whether or not they stay our customers and keep giving us our paychecks. So as far as like the sacrifice.

You know, that sacrifice in that pond, sometimes it is not driving as hard on the expert experiential metrics at first. And putting in the time and effort to really build that case study and, and showcase clearly to operational minded. It's really just about considering your audience, right. And considering the reality of this, you know, this world it's, it's complex. And it has all of these different, um, you know,

Rob Dwyer (26:50.076)

Michael Mattson (27:00.902)
It has all of these different focuses and, and nuances and, and whatnot that you have to consider, right.

Rob Dwyer (27:09.127)
Absolutely. It reminds me very much of a kind of an ongoing conversation that I've been having recently with Neil Toff, who has been on the show. And we talked very much about it then, and we've talked about it since. And that is the idea that you can talk about the customer and their experience and how wonderful you want to make it and how

right, pie in the sky, the seamless things that we can make. But at the end of the day, the business is there to make money. And businesses will make decisions based on financial considerations as well as they should, because that's how they stick around. And so to your point,

I have to make a business case and I have to link our financial results to efforts that we're going to make from a customer experience standpoint because if I don't, right, my CFO, if I've got a CFO is going to be like, I don't, right, we're not going to do that. That's going to cost too much money. I have to be able to show, no, it's actually going to make money.

at minimum be revenue neutral and not cost us money. And that is often the big challenge in the CX world is how do I demonstrate that these efforts and these metrics also align with some of these financial metrics or operational metrics?

And that's a really good piece of advice to write. Sometimes you just need to take your time to get in there, not just bring, oh, but I've got the CX dashboard. Look at it. It's pretty.

Michael Mattson (29:20.25)
Yeah. Right. Yeah. No, that's so true. You know, just the way that I see it, It just really comes down to like the fundamentals of communication, right. And I try to think about everything at that. The most basic levels, right? Let's not over complicate things. At the end of the day, you know, we're all just people trying to work together, accomplish something.

Michael Mattson (29:47.938)
things tend to break down first. And it's because a lot of times we're looking to internally and not looking, really listening and understanding those that we're trying to work together to accomplish these tasks and achieve our mission. And I think once people start realizing that they're being heard and that we're not trying to take all of that off the table, that we're saying,

It's, it's more of a, and kind of statement than, than an, or it's, it's all about rounding out that perspective, right? Showing like getting rid of those blind spots, showing that there's more to the equation that we're kind of letting a lot of the, a lot of this revenue drop out of the bottom of our bucket through experience. And when you start relating to, you know, our customers, um,

Rob Dwyer (30:24.002)

Michael Mattson (30:47.186)
in addition to the, their personal experiences, um, but then also what that is costing you as an organization or putting revenue at risk. And then, you know, now you're starting to speak their language and like, okay, now I see the value. And, and you're right. It really is like, what's that? What's that carrot that, you know, other people have like understand what motivates them and start using that.

Rob Dwyer (31:05.203)

Michael Mattson (31:16.45)
that same language, that same, um, those same kind of attributes focus on those first, because that's going to get their buy in a lot quicker than saying, you know, here's just another metric that you need to monitor. Let's just toss it on the pile. Right. They don't see the value in that it's just added work for them.

Rob Dwyer (31:29.908)

Rob Dwyer (31:35.463)
Yeah, exactly. And nobody likes added work. That's not someone who goes, oh, could you please put more on my plate? I don't have enough to do. That's rarely the case. Right. I want to talk a little bit about you've been talking about communication. And you mentioned earlier getting feedback from your customers. And I'm wondering, at least in your time there,

Michael Mattson (31:42.358)
Yeah, right. Especially in public service service.

Rob Dwyer (32:05.511)
Number one, I think we all recognize that you can get kind of that informal feedback by having a one-on-one type of conversation with a customer. Did you, number one, formalize feedback by doing any type of surveys? And then if so, did you find more value in the more formalized version of feedback versus that more personal kind of organic feedback or no?

Michael Mattson (32:35.718)
So like the postal service has many, many listening posts, right? And so there's a lot of, a lot of that feedback, uh, data coming in and whether it's, you know, so you have all of this, both structured and unstructured data, both qualitative and quantitative data. Um, and I think that one of my biggest challenges first was. Synergizing those and making it very easily, easily digestible.

Right. So it wasn't, it wasn't so much of establishing these, you know, the survey practice that was all there. Right. It was more about presentation. It was more about putting in an inform in a form that people could understand quickly and understand the impact and tie it to those operational metrics. Right. And create that, that clearer picture. Um, but the other thing too, is I think on a, on a personal level, what I found

Rob Dwyer (33:05.195)

Michael Mattson (33:34.218)
because I, you know, by the end of my career, I was in more middle management, higher middle management. So I had an entire district that I was trying to shape the, the customer experience strategies, the, um, that complaint resolution strategies, like all of these kinds of, um, you know, customer relations activities. And what I realized was.

You only get so much of a picture through the feedback, right. Fruit through that more formalized feedback because you know, you have what, like a five to 10% if you're lucky response rate to surveys. And so that's only a sliver. And usually that's the most emotionally polarized customers. Right. Very happy, very upset. And the data is usually skewed more towards the highly upset, right? So you have to understand.

Rob Dwyer (34:05.515)

Rob Dwyer (34:21.812)

Michael Mattson (34:31.35)
What your data, the biases, right? The, the, you have to understand the data analytics side of it too. Right. The, the, um, any kind of skewing of that data. Like, so when I started thinking about that, I wanted to build out my perception and understand it both from an employee experience side and a customer experience side. And so I started when I came over to, to Connecticut and took that district on.

Um, I started with going out to as many post offices as I could and getting my feet on the ground and really trying to build out that context, right? Talking to customers in the lobby, um, talking to employees face to face, you know, putting a face to the name. And then when I did that and rounded out that build out, build out that context, it gave me a different lens to look through my formalized.

feedback and operationalize that feedback better, right? Because I can then get down to what my perspective was more holistic, right? It was more rounded out. So then when I started doing initiatives that would start addressing some of these root causes of these

Rob Dwyer (35:37.881)

Rob Dwyer (35:46.707)

Michael Mattson (36:01.806)
A more well-rounded perception, right? And it was considering more of the variables. And, um, you know, one thing that I recognized is that, uh, in the past, a lot of folks had really focused on some of the low hanging fruit on the customer experience side, which is great. Um, but they really missed that employee experience side, right? And not getting that feedback from the employees and they didn't really, there wasn't really. Any kind of.

effort put towards improving that experience. And so in recognizing that, seeing that need, I started to focus on, well, how do I address these, these employee related issues that would then translate into improving experiences for customers? So it was kind of one of those symptom versus root cause kind of things. A lot of people focus on the symptoms and that was, well, our customers are upset at us.

That's a symptom, but why, right? Start asking those whys and get down to the root of it. And you'll realize that we were creating a cycle of, of tension, of negative emotion. You know, we're creating that because of how we were interacting internally was translating to, it was kind of rubbing off on the customers, then they would come in.

Rob Dwyer (37:03.787)

Michael Mattson (37:31.506)
Already on their toes and sometimes ready to fight and treat our employees poorly and it just perpetuated, right? So we had to kind of throw a, throw a wrench into that, that cycle, that, you know, that whole dynamic and, um, and once we started, once I really started focusing on that, and then you started seeing some real positive change.

Rob Dwyer (37:58.995)
I mean, I just had recently Russell Lolliker on the show. And we talked almost verbatim about this. His focus on customer experience can change to employee experience. And it came through just asking a question, like, well, what about the employees? And

you know, everyone was just like, what about the employees? And he's like, I think there might be a connection there. And so we talked a lot about how you focus on that employee experience and what that does for a customer experience. And I can't think of a business where that would hold more true than the postal service where you are

interacting not just with the service, because I think for a lot of businesses, we do interact primarily with the service, right? If I order something on Amazon, I'm interacting with a service to get a product, I'm not interacting with people. But with the post office, whether I am at home and I'm having my mail delivered by my mail carrier, or I'm going into the post office because I need to.

Michael Mattson (38:59.725)

Rob Dwyer (39:24.715)
to send a package or I want to buy that first day issue envelope with a special commemorative stamp on it, whatever the case may be. Yes, you can do that at your local post office, by the way. Got some cool stuff you can get. Those interactions are with people. And

Michael Mattson (39:34.53)

Rob Dwyer (39:51.583)
There aren't very many services that, at least for me personally, that I interact with where, like, when Christmas rolls around, I'm like, OK, well, you know, we need to make sure and get a card and a gift for this person who helps provide a service. And they're just a small part of it, right? But my mail carrier and the guys who pick up my trash are like,

two services where it's like, no, those are real people behind that. I think we forget that, number one, that there are, as you mentioned, humans involved in this, whether they're on the customer side or their employee side, we're just all humans. And two, when we do get an opportunity to have real human-to-human interaction,

Michael Mattson (40:22.766)

Rob Dwyer (40:48.491)
The feelings, the way that people are feeling at any given moment, particularly from the employee side, because that's the side we can at least have some influence on as a huge impact on how that actually flows out. And If I've got an employee who's disgruntled or unhappy or, you know, upset at their boss today because you know, of a scheduling issue or whatever the case may be like.

there's a good chance the employees or the customers are going to feel that. And that's not good for anyone.

Michael Mattson (41:23.446)

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it's about how we foster those relationships with everybody, right? Dignity and respect need to be with every human. And when we really neglect one major aspect of that equation and then wonder why our customers are upset, it's like, I mean.

Duh. Like this is literally the face of the organization. This is like, these are the individuals that our customers are interacting with every single day. Right. And so it's, it really is a huge aspect of that, that complete experience and realizing that if you take care of your people, your employees and take care of your customers,

Rob Dwyer (41:55.283)

Michael Mattson (42:23.178)
If you just take care of people and act with kindness and empathy and listen to people and really try to understand what they're going through, then you won't get that same extremely negative kind of reaction typically. And if you do, it's because there's still trust that's been compromised. And so understanding that

People are going to show up at different, different levels, different stages of their life, different, you know, different backgrounds and, and previous experience and all feeds into what they are, like how they present themselves now. And so understanding that and not taking it personally, but taking it personally enough to want to make it a better experience, that's that balance. Right. And I think I, I struggle with this concept a lot of

Rob Dwyer (43:15.612)

Michael Mattson (43:20.778)
You know, you, you gotta just, especially when I was like really focusing on, um, resolving escalated customer complaints, right? One of the, the self-defense kind of, um, approaches was you can't take anything personally. Right. And I think that that's kind of the mode that a lot of people in those roles kind of get to, because it, that's their business, that's their daily activity is resolving complaints and it becomes stripped of that human aspect. And so you're just kind of.

pointing it through the process and you're discounting the emotions and your really the goal is in some ways to strip the humanity because it makes your job easier. And so we have to, especially as leaders within these organizations have to find ways of providing the right support but also the right vision and guidance and find ways of incentivizing, treating people like people, right?

Rob Dwyer (44:18.077)

Michael Mattson (44:18.23)
because we have so many things that, that intentionally or unintentionally pull us away from treating people like people when we're in business mode, that, um, that we have to re infuse that and be conscious of the fact that this is reality, this, these are going to be ways that our brains process these situations and we have to counteract that and we have to provide that support. And that was something that I tried to be very, very mindful of when I was leading that team of.

professionals that were resolving these complaints is really, really tried at every single morning touch point. We would talk about our customers as people, right? We wouldn't, we wouldn't strip their names from the equation. Like, you know, first name, we're, we're shouting out personal identifying information or anything like that, but like we're keeping it personal. Right. Um, and you know, we're really, every time that there'd be any kind of like

Rob Dwyer (45:08.561)
That's good.

Michael Mattson (45:15.978)
verbal cues or nonverbal cues that were leaning that direction of stripping that humanity. Like, you know, maybe they would say, Oh, this, you know, maybe they just make assumptions, right? Oh, this customer just wants this, right? It's like, do we really know that, like we're seeing it through a specific lens. And the more that we can educate our customer service representatives of the fact that like, you know, first of all, don't assume malintent, right? And really seek to understand.

what our customers are going through and, and see it from their shoes, you know, from their side of the equation a little bit and say, okay, well, if I was in that position, I experienced all of this. If I'm not the customer service rep having to feel this, am I going to see it differently and a hundred percent of the time you will, right? So recognizing that and realizing that it's a natural thing for us to put, separate ourselves a little bit, but making it personal again and saying, Hey,

Like these are our customers that we have to take care of that we have to advocate for without us, we have, they have nothing, right? And they have, they don't have many other avenues that they can go down to be heard. And so we have to, we, that has to be our responsibility. We have to take ownership of that. And we have to be proud of the fact that, Hey, at the end of the day, if I can make one customer, one customer's experience better and improve their lives in any minor way, then that's a success.

And really celebrating those successes and making it so that that's the path of least resistance is take care of the people and that's the most effective, efficient way, right? That's, that's how we get to driving those operational metrics.

Rob Dwyer (47:04.443)
I love the phrase, take it personally, just enough. Love that. It reminds me of Ron Holt of Peking Zebra Moving was on the show. And he talked about how he really formalized how they celebrated success. And that success was all about, what did you do for our customers?

Michael Mattson (47:09.25)

Rob Dwyer (47:31.475)
yesterday to surprise and delight them. Like, was it just a little thing? And in some cases, it was a really big thing, but it was every day going in and asking everyone, like, tell us what you did yesterday. And so growing that expectation of, I'm solving problems for people, I am helping other people, it's a way to...

Michael Mattson (47:35.154)
Mm-hmm. Oh, yep.

Rob Dwyer (48:00.395)
formalize kind of that attitude of, I want to help people. I want to do good things for people. And I think we often miss the opportunity to celebrate those successes. When you do it, it can be the opposite of the vicious cycle, right? It can be the awesome cycle where we just, we're continually looking for opportunities to.

reach out and do something good for a customer who's another human being. Michael, such good stuff today. I am so glad we got the opportunity to have this conversation. Thank you so much for joining Next In Que. If people want to get in touch with you, I know you and I got in touch with each other via LinkedIn. Is that the best way?

Michael Mattson (48:36.158)
Yep, that's right.

Michael Mattson (48:56.786)
Yep. LinkedIn's my preferred. Definitely.

Rob Dwyer (49:00.423)
Well, your LinkedIn will be in the show notes. If you wanna talk to Michael about, who knows, maybe about insurance needs or about customer experience or maybe photography, which is another thing that he is absolutely into. We didn't get a chance to even talk about that, but if you want some, you're a budding photographer and you just want some advice, maybe on...

vintage camera or how to do some great lighting or whatever. Get in touch with Michael and Michael, thank you again so much. I really appreciate your time.

Michael Mattson (49:40.834)
Thank you, Rob, for having me. It's been a blast.