The importance of delivering on expectations

I’ve been very disappointed twice recently, by big name brands that quite frankly, I’d expect better service from.

One was a holiday company with whom I’ve booked a trip of a lifetime (I’ve a big birthday coming up!). They sent me an email recently to request the balance of payment. Fair enough, the balance is now due, however, the tone of the email was not what I would expect from a well-known holiday brand.

The words that upset me were: please keep in mind that if we don’t receive your payment by your balance due date your holiday will be cancelled.

What? So no provision for the possibility that I may not receive that email or I may be away on business or another holiday? Do I not get a second chance? These words were in the 3rd line of the email – not at the bottom, away from the rest of the message where it could have been added in the form of terms and conditions and in a more friendly tone.

So, I complained. I explained that I had high expectations when booking with this firm, after all, their marketing is second to none, and customers are left in no doubt that they need not expect compromises when holidaying with them.

I also stated that, based on the company’s outstanding reputation, I was even more disappointed at the tone of their letter than I might otherwise have been.

Which is why it’s so important to deliver on expectations. Marketing is only worth its salt if it is true to the word and customers receive the product or service that they were expecting. Anything less just leads to disappointment and feeling let down.

The response to my complaint was equally disappointing: whilst they stated that their intention was not to offend customers, this notification had come from their accounting team.

There’s a point here for all companies to note: make sure all departments in your company are aware of the marketing activities going on and see themselves as equally responsible for delivering on expectations no matter what their role in the company. Every member of staff is a company representative.

Moving on, my second disappointment has come from large retailer from whom I made a purchase last October. Since then I have been bombarded with emails, each one complete with an unsubscribe button that, when clicked, takes you to a normal web page, and not an unsubscribe page. Quite simply, there is no option to unsubscribe.

Despite many emails to complain and bring this to the company’s attention, I’ve been assured that my email address will be removed from their marketing lists (though this may take a few days) yet I’ve received virtually no acknowledgement that the unsubscribe button doesn’t work.

I’d expect a company of this size to operate in accordance with email marketing rules and not repeatedly send emails with the same non-functioning unsubscribe option – especially after the fault has been reported.

This blog may seem like a rant, and perhaps it is to some extent, but it’s to make an important point. Whoever you are, whether your company is a multi national conglomerate or a sole trader, it’s absolutely crucial to deliver on expectations. Don’t set yourself up for a fall with misleading marketing messages, as people, like me, won’t be too forgiving.

Follow these instructions…

Christmas has been and gone, and with it lots of instructions – new child’s games, more adventurous recipes than usual to cook up in the kitchen, and technical household gadgets that should be simple to use but aren’t!

Which made me spend more time than usual thinking about who writes these instructions – and how do they test them?

I spent no less than 2 hours constructing a constellation globe – my 9 year old left me to it after about 10 minutes – is it just me? Am I less patient than most? Or are we right to grumble about complicated, hard to follow instructions?

I battled on with the constellation globe in the hope that it would all be worth it in the end, but alas, a perfect result was not to be. Thankfully my daughter forgave my paltry attempt and says it’s the best she’s ever had (and as it’s the only constellation globe so far in her short life, that’s not difficult!)

So, my plea here is for all manufacturers and cookbook writers – please oh please take care with your instructions, and have them tested, tested and tested again so we’re not filled with dread and bewilderment when we read them.

Here’s to a fabulous New Year, which should go with a bang, so long as we follow our firework instructions to the letter!