Timeliness: Set Expectations

  |  July 28, 2006   |  Comments

Timeliness is extremely important when it comes to setting expectations and conducting business online. A look at two companies: one that gets this and one that doesn't.

Timeliness is extremely important when it comes to setting expectations and conducting business online. Today, we look at two companies: one that gets this and one that doesn't.

A Call From NaturesStore

I ordered vitamins online a few weeks ago from NaturesStore.com, with which I was unfamiliar. It could be big or small. The site itself has a very amateur look about it, so my guess is it's a small business. But I took a chance because I liked the product selection. It's been a couple of weeks, and the product still hasn't arrived. But on Monday, I received a voice message. The company called to tell me there was a delay in getting the product and assured me it would be sent shortly. Though the delay is certainly inconvenient, a personal phone call explaining the problem is extremely effective at both informing me about the delay and putting a real voice to the company. I might not have shopped with it again due to the delayed product coupled with the fact I'd never heard of the company. Now, I definitely will. It attended to me in a more personal manner than its larger counterpoints and has earned my respect.

New Music Tuesdays

On the other hand, I've been both amused and frustrated lately by Apple's "New Music Tuesdays" e-mail messages, which Apple sends weekly to inform customers of what's new. The messages land in my inbox on either Wednesday or Thursday, not Tuesday. It's terrific Apple wants to keep me informed of new music. But by setting the expectation that I'll get this e-mail on Tuesdays, it distracts me from the e-mail content itself as I wonder what went wrong with its delivery mechanism. Simply calling these e-mail messages "This Week's New Music" or something similar would solve the problem. The e-mail isn't personalized, so the content tends to contain genres of music I don't care about. The net effect is the e-mail is a day late and a dollar short.

Rules for Setting Timeliness Expectations

Setting expectations around timeliness isn't brain surgery. A few simple rules to follow:

  • If your marketing campaign is targeted to a specific day (e.g., Tuesdays), make sure the campaign is actually delivered on that day.

  • If you run a campaign against a holiday (e.g., Father's Day), make sure you leave enough time to get your e-mail delivered before the holiday passes.

  • If something's delayed an inordinate amount of time, keep the customer in the loop. If you have the resources to do this personally (via a phone call), it makes a stronger impression than e-mail. If you only have the ability to e-mail, make the message personal by using a template that sounds like a customer service rep wrote it. Sign it with a real person's name, not just "staff." An impersonal backend email from the warehouse isn't friendly.

Timeliness reflects your brand and level of professionalism. So long as the correct expectations are set, people give you the benefit of the doubt. If things go awry, people will forgive you if you handle the situation in a personal manner. It's not brain surgery, but many companies still don't seem to get it.

Thoughts, questions? Let me know.

Until next time...


ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!*
*Early Bird Rates expire April 17.


Jack Aaronson

Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...