I purchased a new toy from Dell this week and was told that it would be shipped today. Instead of receiving an email today notifying me that my new PDA had shipped, I got a message that made me cry, laugh, and want to scream at the same time.
My email from Dell stated in big red letters “Order Delayed” with the following message:
Dear Valued Customer,
We have reviewed your order. Although we had anticipated being able to ship your order sooner, we are experiencing an unexpected delay with your order ### and will not be able to ship this order and any associated orders until on or before 09-01-2005.
My Name is Joe
I know I’m a valued customer but I also have a name. If Dell is smart enough to put my order number in the email, they should be able to insert my name that I gave them during the order process. “Dear Valued Customer” treats me like a number in the big Dell Inc. system and not a person.
Lesson: When you communicate with customers, use their name. It will add that personal touch and recognition that we all crave.
A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words
The email from Dell had the big stock photo shown on the right. It has a guy with a dumb look on his face and a girl in the background with her laptop.
I guess the guy is suppose to be me without my new PDA and the girl with her new laptop. Is this suppose to make me feel better? The guy in the picture looks like he didn’t get his Dell purchase nor the girl. Sounds like a pretty bad day.
Lesson: When you email customers, don’t use stock photography that has no purpose. Keep communication simple and uncluttered by using graphics only when they illustrate what you are saying.
I’m told my order isn’t being shipped today because of an “unexpected delay.” This creates numerous questions in my head:
- What caused the delay?
- Will my order by delayed again?
- How can I prevent it from happening with future orders?
- What is being done to correct the problem and minimize the delay?
Lesson: Without the specifics of why you can’t deliver your product, your customers will be left to wonder. In this state of doubt, they may just cancel their order. Give them the details so they can maintain some confidence in you and hopefully return for more business in the future.
What Really Happened
As Dell didn’t specify why my PDA was delayed, I thought I’d write what they should have told me:
Your order delay was the result of shipping problems across the Pacific. Pirates on the high seas raided and plundered the cargo ship that was carrying your PDA from China. They pulled your PDA out of the box and took it for their own personal use. The pirates then sunk the ship and sailed away.
When you don’t explain the situation to your customers, do you know what they are thinking? No. Don’t leave your company image and their order status up in the air and subject to creative imaginations.
Fill in the blanks. Be specific. Provide the details.