Setting expectations as a team

I ordered something from Amazon on Wednesday evening. I used the free shipping option, which indicated I should expect my order to arrive sometime between 5 - 10 days. That seemed like a long time, but ok - I'm more willing to wait a few extra days than I am to spend extra money on expedited shipping.

They sent me an order confirmation email right away, and then another email early Thursday morning saying my order had been shipped, with an expected arrival date of Friday (today)!

Here is what the order tracking screen shows on Amazon right now:


My package is on its way, and should arrive today by 8:00 pm. Awesome!

Below that little graphic is a usps tracking number, so I can check the United States Postal Service website for even more information. ( Here is the tracking information USPS is showing me:


Well, they have my package in my city as of 4:36 am this morning, but they don't expect to be able to get my package to me until Monday. Bummer - why will it take 3-4 days to get the last 5 miles covered?

Expectations vs Reality

When I ordered my package, Amazon told me to expect 5-10 days for delivery. Monday is the 5th day. Based on this information alone, I would have been very happy to receive my package at the earliest possible day of the range.

However, once Amazon told me to expect my package today, waiting until Monday feels like a colossal failure.

The difference between a happy customer and a customer who feels like somebody dropped the ball lies completely within the expectations Amazon had set.

Working as a Team

In this case, Amazon is basically saying "We did our part - got your order shipped out right away. We're not sure why the post office is taking so long to get it delivered to you." They're completely throwing the USPS under the bus.

Maybe Amazon wants me to be so angry with USPS that I'll pay more for expedited shipping next time.

Maybe they want me to split that happy-satisfied feeling into two, so that I'll be ecstatic with Amazon for beating expectations and upset with USPS for missing expectations. They might assume I'll buy more from Amazon and refer more people to them if I think they did their part great.

I don't know for sure what they're thinking. But I do know they're wrong.

It doesn't matter to me which part failed; it matters that it took longer than it probably should have to receive my package. And if I have to pay extra to get things sooner, well - then Amazon doesn't compare quite as favorably as going to the big box store down the street (where shipping time is zero.)

The entire experience, from start to finish, is what's being measured, and you win or lose as a team.

* Update below

In Your Organization

How many people are involved in a home sale-purchase transaction?

  • Seller(s)
  • Listing Agent
  • Listing Agent's assistant or transaction coordinator
  • Buyer(s)
  • Selling Agent
  • Selling Agent's assistant or transaction coordinator
  • Loan Officer
  • Loan Processor
  • Loan Underwriter
  • Loan Closing Coordinator
  • Appraiser
  • Home Inspector(s)
  • Title Officer
  • Title Officer's assistant
  • Title Office closing coordinator

Wow! So many people are involved in every single transaction.

It's easy to blame somebody else for the dropped ball. But it doesn't matter whose fault it is when the buyers don't have a place to live and the sellers are about to lose their next house because this one isn't closing on time. Talk about a high-stress environment...

Better to work together to meet expectations, so that the end result is a happy & satisfied client, on both sides of the table.

- Chris Butterworth

* Update 2/5/16 - The USPS website was updated to show my package "out for delivery" within a couple hours of when I published this post, and I received it before close of business that day. I'm still not sure of the what-who-why; maybe USPS was trying to set low expectations? Either way, I was very happy to see they pulled through on their end, but I still think the process works better when everyone is on the same team...