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Slow down to keep customers happier

Good customer service requires rethinking and, in some cases, slowing down fulfillment and delivery. Yes, s-l-o-w down. Here’s why: Once people get accustomed to a standard—say two-hour grocery delivery—they will be disappointed and frustrated more readily when delays occur. Amazon’s same-day and one-day free Prime fulfillment and delivery options are a perfect case in point. When two or three days—or longer—are perfectly acceptable, why strain the system to the point of breaking? Weather will happen. Airplanes break down. Other unforeseen delays will occur.

Given the nature of human nature, it’s wiser to set expectations a bit lower, then delight people when meeting or beating deadlines. Therein lies the danger, and ultimate failure, of ever-faster policies seen with such companies as Amazon.

Case in point: Last week, I ordered a couple items that I could have waited on for a week. They offered free one-day delivery, so I took it. The shipment got delayed and wasn’t delivered by the promised deadline. So, I called Amazon and got a $10 credit toward a future purchase because of Prime’s policies. I wound up unhappy for two reasons:

  1. They didn’t keep their commitment;
  2. I had to spend time calling to get my credit.

I would have rather seen them keep their delivery commitment two or three days out, and not spend the time or trouble getting a credit.

As I said in a previous post, I’m really thinking of opting for longer delivery times on most items so I won’t be disappointed. I’m getting anxious every time I order from them because this happens periodically. I’d rather it not happen at all—or very rarely.

Ultimately, the Amazons of the world are doing themselves and their customers a disservice by being too responsive. And once drone deliveries become routine (if ever), they will just magnify the challenges and, likely, disappointments (not to mention filling the skies with drones capable of spying into people’s windows or causing damage to people and property).

It’s too much. And it’s unnecessary. For people who can’t live without immediate gratification on everything, it’s time to dial it down. For companies that can’t stop moving ever-faster, there will come a point of diminishing returns.

And, here’s the irony: In the interest of being customer-centric to the max, companies will wind up causing unneeded alienation. Plus, all this faster, faster, faster stress puts a strain on employees, suppliers and other stakeholders—all of whom are customers in their own right.

Slow down, you move too fast.


Back to borrowing a page from Simon & Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy): “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.” It’s time to reassess our “immediate gratification-on-steroids culture.” The more companies speed up such processes as fulfillment and delivery, the more they risk not meeting commitments. In the rush to out-compete everyone, companies are offering hours instead of days or even weeks to get that latest-and-greatest item from the factory to front door. In some cases, it’s raising expectations to often unsustainable levels. When expectations are not met, frustration and disappointment follow. That’s not a good place to be in the customer service world. 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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