When building your processes, ensure you build in communication.

Have you found it more difficult than normal to do things through COVID?

I have. I think a lot of the difficulties come from communication. Or to be clear, the lack of communication. Let me explain.

For the first four weeks, my husband did all our grocery shopping. Makes sense because he does our cooking. Then one week, his schedule didn’t allow for business, cooking and groceries and I stepped up. That has lead to a switch in who does the shopping in our house and I’m happy to do it. My first shopping experience highlighted the need for communication. The need for communication was needed before COVID but it’s needed more than ever now.

I had not been out in 4 weeks and I was feeling anxious about going out. I remember sitting in my Jeep putting hand sanitizer on and pulling out of my purse only what I needed to go into the store. Then I took a deep breath and went in. I didn’t make it very far before I was being called back to the entrance…. apparently I forgot to check in for hand sanitizer. Whoops. But no other information was given. I was almost done my shopping when I realized that there were arrows on the flow… I hadn’t been following them at all! I felt awful. Then I got to the cash… stood in the little circle and waited. When it looked like the other customer was leaving, I stepped forward. “MAM, WAIT FOR THE OTHER CUSTOMER TO LEAVE BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR STUFF DOWN”. What? Oh! Sorry. I then realized that I didn’t need to be talked to like that. I looked at the cashier and said… “Please be kind. This is the first time I’ve shopped in four weeks, I’m learning the processes today.” She was nicer after that but it shook me.

Once I got back to my vehicle I thought about it…. if they are paying for someone to put hand sanitizer in my hand, then maybe they could have them give a little bit of instruction such as the flow of shopping and how to check out. Just a little improvement in communication would have created a better shopping experience.

This isn’t an isolated event. I want to support local. I’m a local. But when you go on a website and can’t figure out how to do business with them, it becomes hard. Recently, I ordered some product form a company that would do curb side pickup. I ordered. Two days later I got an abrupt email that said my products were back ordered. That was all I got. No setting of expectations, no idea what in my order was back ordered. Nothing. I had to write back and ask for an approximate ETA. They came back to tell me it should be on the next deliver which was on Wednesday. Then on Saturday I realized I hadn’t heard anything. I reached out for an update and found out that two of three items were not available. I canceled the order. Why did I have to ask for updates and information? A little more time spent on the initial email advising of the back order could have created a very different shopping experience. They could have taken the time of what was on the next delivery, set my expectations, advise of my options etc.

We are seeing the same thing with orders from large companies. The order is placed with no setting of expectations or when the order will be picked or delivered. There is no communication. none! The order goes in some weird vortex. They take the money right away and you feel vulnerable until you get the ship notice. Upfront expectation setting would go a long way. For example, how long will it take to pick/ship. Along with updates at set intervals would at least give me confidence that I had not been forgotten, set my expectations and create a better experience.

Finally, so you can see that the need for communication is not just when shopping is a service experience. We needed a plumber. I submitted a referral for the plumber through a networking app and sent an email. After 48 hours, we called. The response was “Oh! We didn’t know it was an emergency”! In my mind, sup pumps are emergencies but lesson learned for me that I need to be more clear. But still, we had to follow up at each step to get the expectations set and timelines given. The information was never delivered proactively. We had to ask for it. Our experience with this service would have been better had there been communication.

I recognize that everyone is adapting. But the importance of a client experience didn’t disappear. In fact, with the stress we are all facing, any effort by those we do business with to make the experience easier and better is appreciated.

My request… don’t make us ask. Tell us before we ask. Follow up, update, set expectations. Please and thank you.

What has your experience been?

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life without it… it dies.”

Tony Caskins