Amazon over-promises AND over-delivers

Typically, “over-promising and under-delivering” and “under-promising and over-delivering” go hand-in-hand. But, “over-promising AND over-delivering” are not seen together, until now.

By instituting ever-faster delivery, now into same-day or even hours, Amazon has upped its game—and consequently is putting more pressure on their workforce to deliver. Amazon PRIME members get a delivery guarantee, that when unmet, typically yields a monetary credit or some other perk. So, they are putting their money where their mouth is.

And, then, there is the “drone force” expected to start filling the skies with packages destined for addresses across the country.

When does “over-promising” and “over-delivering” get to be too much? When customer expectations for immediate gratification become absurd. And when employees tasked with meeting those expectations become the prime pressure points of practically impossible performance.

This is happening currently at Amazon. Think about it: When cellphones first became “smartphones,” vastly enhancing functionality, initial awe soon became replaced with expectation. Now, any glitch or delay tends to prompt consumer disgust. Given that these occur regularly, no matter what platform, phone or carrier is involved, there is no way that the lion’s share of the smart cellphone population is happy all of the time.

And, of course, there’s the texting platform—where responses are often tendered (or expected to be tendered) in near real-time. Sometimes, this is just kinda wacky.

Immediate gratification is the expectation. Anything less is a problem. In business, this can be daunting. Instead of expecting responses in a reasonable amount of time (e.g., people do become legitimately occupied with other matters), consumers demand NOW and nothing less. This is not realistic, this is not reasonable, this is not human.

Yet, because of the Amazons of the world and others, we’re feeding this mindset continuously.

I know that my smartphone expectations have become ridiculous. I validate them by saying that the provider is in essence promising to meet an unmeetable standard to help sell phones. In reality, I’m just driving myself—and often, everyone around me—crazy when something doesn’t work flawlessly in the moment.

Amazon is the latest example. I hesitate now to click on “same-day” delivery even when it’s available for free. When I have, I start getting anxious as the deadline hour approaches because my expectations are set. A two-day delivery window actually allows me to relax a bit. I know that the likelihood of that deadline being met is greater because of the longer timeframe, and I feel it gives employees more leeway to perform.

Subject to the exception where I absolutely, positively “need” something sooner (actually can’t think of a good example but there it is), I’m seriously considering opting for longer timeframes to put less pressure on Amazon, its employees…and myself. This also helps “train” me to have more reasonable delivery expectations. Perhaps that mindset will permeate my smartphone practices and expectations, as well!

It’s time for the world of immediate gratification to take a few steps back and evaluate what is being created. Ever-faster can only go so far before the laws of nature provide some hard brakes on the whole process. As part of this, let’s start factoring in the treatment of employees and how increasing demands for performance in shorter and shorter timeframes is impacting workplace morale and performance.

There is a middle ground that can be found that will accommodate everyone in a reasonable and productive way. Instead of the “zero-sum game” philosophy where one side wins, the other loses, it’s time to make “win-win” the name of the game.

More to follow…

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“This is the second of a four-part series about the disconnect between Amazon’s customer service and treatment of employees. In his quest to build the world’s most customer-service-centric company, employees appear to be pushed to their limits to make sure customers get everything they want. As self-absorbed consumers—who feel entitled to get what they want ever more quickly—grow a social conscience, they’re realizing that a company’s culture includes valuing, acknowledging and respecting its employees. This will cause more people to question using Amazon until the perceived quality of the employee experience improves. I’m one of them“. ML

Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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