The top stories from the field this week.

Holiday Season’s Biggest Service Challenge? Gift Delivery

“FedEx notched a 91 percent on-time delivery rate, compared to 83 percent in the same week last year. UPS achieved a 95 percent on-time rate, compared to 89 percent last year. … The improvement comes as both carriers stepped up their efforts this year to avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle.  FedEx hired 50,000 seasonal workers this year, an increase over the 40,000 it hired last year.  UPS has said it plans to bring on up to 95,000 temporary workers, compared to 85,000 in 2013.” (via The Washington Post)

Apple, IBM Release New Apps for Business Users

“The companies plan to introduce the first products of the partnership on Wednesday, an initial 10 apps of a portfolio that may eventually include 100 or more. The apps, delivered as a cloud service, are focused on specific tasks in a handful of industries, including airlines, banking, retail and telecommunications. For airlines, for example, one app allows pilots to pull together information on flight plans, schedules and weather conditions and report issues to ground crews for in-flight fuel-saving decisions.” (via The New York Times)

Eliminating the Much-Despised Service Window

“In late November, Comcast started testing a mobile application intended to shrink the insanely long windows many telecommunications companies specify for on-site service visits. Customers now get an alert about 30 minutes ahead of time. Comcast’s embattled customer support organization certainly has plenty of ground to make up so offering something like this is smart. Then again, my first thought when hearing about this technology was, ‘Why isn’t every other field service organization doing something like this?’” (via Fortune)

Cities Tap Connected Tech to Keep Streets Snow-Free

“Buffalo’s Division of Citizen Services teamed up with the city’s public works department to speed the process of addressing service calls for salting and snow issues. The plowing and salting strategy hasn’t changed – plows still clear the main roads, followed by secondary and side streets. But with GPS sensors now attached to the city’s snowplow fleet, it has made the entire operation a lot more transparent. For example, if a citizen calls to request his or her block be plowed, when the plow clears it, a signal from the GPS sensor will remotely communicate with the city’s computer system to ‘close the call’ and alert the resident through email that the street is clear.” (via Government Technology)

The Importance of Storytelling in Sales

“As I was checking out I said to the surfer dude, ‘You’re good at this.’ ‘Good at what?’ he asked. ‘Selling!’ I said. ‘I have been selling for years and you are really good.’ He looked confused, ‘I don’t sell’ he said, ‘I just took my fathers advice and find out what people want. What they love about hiking or the outdoors, what their interests are, then I show ’em things that work for what they want.’

Boom, there it is. I realized, in that moment, that I had forgotten one of the oldest and most important tenets of sales, persuasion and even of leadership. …. What we think, feel or say about our idea, product, or anything is largely irrelevant. We do not convince people to buy an idea or thing, but rather we simply uncover and relate to their needs only.” (via Kevin Catlin/LinkedIn)