It’s the note on the mat that everyone dreads – the ‘sorry you were out’ card. Because you just know the admin around this is going to be COLOSSAL.
Rearrange when you might next be in, or follow the maze to the out-of-town post depot, but only during certain opening times.
Yes. Opening times. It’s still a thing.
If you’re around between the hours of 9 and 12 on a Tuesday or a Friday, then you might just be able to pick up that parcel.
Opening times are such a strange concept
Especially when we’re so used to getting things when we want, how we want, in a way that fits in with our lives.
It’s no wonder we go running back to our online world where every day is a delivery day, where you’re texted and emailed every time your parcel makes a move across the country, with details about how its feeling and what it’s wearing. You feel fully in touch. And it makes the whole experience so much more satisfying.
It’s the feeling that the company responsible understands you – your first world problems and heavy obligations – enough to devise options to make your life easier. When lots of companies on the trot act like that you find yourself getting used to it.
Then you come across one that doesn’t
When I rearranged the mortgage on my flat last year, it was like travelling back in time, but not in a good way. I didn’t speak to anyone. All communications were sent in the post, with an envelope that I then had to reply back to.
Because my post usually arrives around 4pm and usually made up of giant flyers for Domnios pizza, it’s often the last thing I look at. So inevitably there were ridiculous crossovers where I replied to something the same day as a chaser letter arrived, just before another form came through. Some of them were so similar I wasn’t sure which was which.
I felt as if that part of my life had regressed to the 1950s where I had to read through reams of information stacked full of jargon that I didn’t understand in order to get to the bit where I had to sign or fill something in. When all I wanted to do was scan for the ‘What we need from you’ header so I could run back to my familiar and responsive present-day world as soon as possible.
Neither of us was involved in the process at all, every single touchpoint was a stripped back transaction. There was no engagement and little satisfaction, and I resented having to interrupt my day with this retro way of doing business. (And I normally love retro.)
Julia Shepherd, board director at MediaCom North says: “We are now living in an age where consumers expect more than just a transactional relationship from the brands they do business with… Consumers want a brand whose beliefs coincide with their own.”
I think you can make those beliefs felt no matter what business you’re in
As long as you take time to understand who your customers are, how they live and communicate, and meet them there – or at least half way. Not being flexible to it, and carrying on blindly isn’t going to wash. Especially with the younger generation who will come to expect even more.
And the point is that while you’re there, you can make it nicer for them. Just because you want them to sign a box doesn’t mean that’s all you have to say. You can add a bit of ‘you’ in to make it more engaging. Even the driest document can have moments of lightheartedness if you put your mind to it.
Communications expert Andy Bounds says: “Clients aren’t comparing you to your competitors, they’re comparing you to Amazon, Netflix and other companies they buy from.”
Not just from a responsiveness point a view, but from a friendliness point of view. And the quicker smaller companies move to ape these, the more people will get used to it, until no one can remember why we used to send formal sounding letters in the post anymore.
So are you in sync with your customers’ expectations? Are you making it easy for them to communicate with you – whether it’s by offering Skype calls or messages by text? Are your written comms using language that they understand, and talking to them in a human way?
If not why not? It will be fun – for you and them.