I have been a heavy Amazon.com shopper for more than a decade and I’ve lost count how much I’ve spent with them over the years.
Probably best not to know that.
Whether prior to establishing their own shipping services in my area where UPS and USPS were the primary delivery services, or after, I could always rely on having my packages arrive like clockwork.
If the estimated delivery date was today, it would arrive today.
Tomorrow morning before 11am? Yup. Nearly every time.
Even during COVID-19 when lockdowns and shutdowns were the norm, they were really quite reliable all things considered.
All of that has taken a turn for the worse over the last 4-5 months. If the delivery service is Amazon’s own, then reliability is no longer even in the conversation.
Of my last ten purchases for example, 4 either were delayed in transit (the originating warehouse is about 20 miles from my home) or the delays were because they shipped the wrong item from said warehouse.
Ordered a radio mount and receive a tape measure.
Ordered a scarf and received a carpentry square.
Ordered garden planters with a delivery the next morning, I spent a Saturday watching the delivery times and dates slowing move outwards hour by hour.
These were not mistakes from a third party seller on Amazon, these were items that were listed by third parties but shipped from Amazon warehouses.
A couple of weeks ago I was on the line with a rep about late packages and they went through their script:
- Delays are likely caused by third parties not having the item in stock. (my reply: your records show you had it in stock and it shipped from you)
- Oh, yes….well….the it will definitely be there by 2am tomorrow morning (my reply: this morning it was delayed until 11am, then until 3pm, then I was assured it would be here by 8pm)
- Oh, yes…well…it will definitely be there by 2am (I planned my Saturday around the changing delivery times as these are not small packages. I’m supposed to leave them on my doorstep while I sleep?)
While I guess this is really a first-world problem if there ever was one, part of what made Amazon.com my go-to place to shop was that I could always count on things arriving at least on the day indicated at checkout.
I always knew I could rely on them.
That has all changed.
There are a myriad of reasons – some of them perhaps good … maybe – as to why reliability has changed the last few months.
As a customer, however, none of those matter.
Customers only see the outcomes that occur from their expenditures.
When we are spending our personal income, or the business budget that we’ve been allocated and are accountable for, we expect certain outcomes. While things can and do happen, to all of us really, the general trend has to be one of reliability and value for dollars spent.
Businesses trend towards sticking with vendors who consistently provide reliable trends.
So how are we staying reliable to our customers in our professional lives?
First of all, customers are anyone that consumes our efforts. They are the traditional customer buying our products, they are our executive leaders, and they are the co-worker down the hall relying on our work.
Providing what is expect when it is expected is foundational.
Secondly we have to listen to what our customers are saying. Scripts are all well and good for getting new people up to speed quickly, but at some point we have to put the script to the side and hear what they are telling us.
Some customers speak with their words and some with their actions.
All of them speak with their investments (time, energy, dollars)
These two steps set the stage for many more things, but are absolute requirements if we are to satisfy and hopefully delight our customers.
The minute we stray away from doing so, we start becoming a “Day 2 Company” (link), which by Amazon’s own definition means that the company starts “…moving further and further away from the customer as it rotates focus towards internal challenges...”.
As for me and my personal shopping experiences, I’ve started cancelling delivery of packages that are delayed by Amazon’s own shipping service and requesting refunds.
If in our professional lives we don’t remain relevant with our own customers and maintain a trend of positive outcomes, we shouldn’t be surprised if they stop investing in us.
Oh, and I love shopping with Amazon and will continue to do so. I am just pushing back as a consumer until things change. 🙂
UPDATE – SAME DAY
I wish I could say that this is a joke, but just a couple of hours after posting this I see the following about my most recent orders from Amazon: