Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

I have been an Amazon Prime member for quite some time. Even the recent price increase didn’t deter me. Why? I see value in what they offer. For me, even more than the free, two-day shipping and Prime Video, I value the free books and the free music. The other stuff is just icing on the cake for me. I’m a fan.

Lately, however, I feel they may be putting us all in a jam. I am all for delivery dates, tracking packages and knowing what’s going on. Unfortunately, I feel they may be giving too much information and setting the bar way too high for the rest of us. Recently I placed an order and yes, they gave me tracking information and delivery dates but then they did something that made me think, “Oh no! Let’s not start doing that.” It was the day of my delivery and I got a message that said my order was out for delivery and they were six stops away. Then I got another message that said they were two stops away. That of course was followed by the usual package delivered notification. 

While I appreciate their attention to detail and their endeavor to be communicative, that sets a standard that few of us will be able to match. Once people get used to that, there will be no turning back. How would that work, exactly? You would hire a person to sit at a desk all day and track all your vehicles so as they drive down the road that person sends constant updates to your customers letting them know who is where and what they are doing. “Mrs. Smith, your install crew is currently across town installing Mrs. White’s project. Then they will be heading over to the Jones residence for a hot minute to install some backsplash and then they will be on their way to you.”

Delivery statusThen, of course, that would be followed by: “Mrs. Smith, your install crew has left the White’s residence and is currently traveling over to the Jones residence. After that they will be on their way to you.” To keep with the trend then it would be: “Mrs. Smith, your install crew has finished over at the Jones residence. They are stopping to get gas and grab some lunch. After that, they will be coming to you to install your project. Their ETA is 2 p.m. (if they don’t take too long for lunch).” And heaven forbid: ”Oops! Mrs. Jones, the install crew has had to stop for a bathroom break, make that ETA 2:20 p.m..” And if the person sitting at the desk monitoring all this action has more than one or two crews to follow, I see a slew of mis-sent texts and notifications. In short: calamity at its finest.

In all seriousness, communication is one of the keys to happy customers, especially if they are giving you their hard-earned money. They don’t want to chase you down to find out what is going on with their project. They don’t want to leave message after message to get your attention. They want you to stay in touch. 

The thing is, communication is not only about what you say or how often you say it (I can see some people loving this new communication effort by Prime). It’s also about how you get the information to your customer. 

Different customers prefer different things. My first choice is e-mail. Things are documented that way and if something goes awry, you can always go back to the e-mails for verification and documentation. If your inbox gets too full, you can just create a file and file them all away for future reference. Or, you can print them and store them in a physical file. You can keep them literally forever if you want, and refer back to them as often as necessary. 

Some people prefer phone calls. We occasionally still run into that older person who doesn’t have e-mail. They like the personal touch.

They like hearing a voice on the other end of the line. They like knowing that they are valued enough for someone to pick up a phone and personally call them with the information they are providing. Granted, this is not the best way to document anything, so my suggestion is to take copious notes, put them in the customer’s file and send them a copy via snail mail. It may not be your favorite way to do business, but some people prefer it.  

Younger folks like texting. I know one salesperson who does 75 percent of her communication by text. Her clients love it! She is decades younger than I am and so are her customers. She is a very successful salesperson, and texting is her main form of communication. If you call her cell phone, her outgoing message even says she responds to texts quicker. Truthfully, at my age now, she wouldn’t be my choice for a salesperson, but if I were decades younger, she probably would. Texts can be saved for documentation as well. There is a little more hassle to print texts, but if you are used to it, and your customers love it, what’s the harm? 

The thing is, you have to know what your customer likes, what they prefer. After all, it’s not about how you prefer to do business, it’s about how they prefer to do business with you. And yes, I will be shutting off those Prime communications if I can. They are really annoying!

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