On Time, Every Time

I don't know about you, but if I am looking for furniture, I actually want something I can take home and use or at least use in the next week or so, not something I have to wait 9 months for. It's not a baby!

A friend of mine ordered a particular sofa from a furniture manufacturer and was told they would have it in 6 weeks. Bought and paid for. It was not 6 weeks or even 6 months before they got their sofa, but 8 months! To try and keep my friend happy during this long wait for their sofa, the company offered them free scotchguarding, cushions, a matching chair and other incentives, and really, they had to!

Delivery of what is promised, within a reasonable time, is another of the fundamental expectations that customers are entitled to. Don't take money for something you cannot deliver.

Don't take money for something you cannot deliver.

It is tempting in the internet age where people are used to the idea of payment before delivery, to take money from your customers and hope that your fulfilment issues get sorted out before your customers start following up. That is not the right way to do things.

An online retailer was recently ordered to not only refund money to customers, but also to pay fines, enter undertakings and publish apologies. Funnily enough, they sold furniture. The trouble was that, as a result of the company's cash flow difficulties, it knew that its suppliers would not release stock to meet orders until overdue payments were made.

So the company was effectively using money from new customers, to cover the orders placed by customers who hadn't yet received their furniture. Sooner or later it was going to run out of money. The regulator found that the company was in breach of consumer laws.

Another example is magazine subscriptions. If you know that there is a chance the magazine won't last out the next twelve months, don't be accepting 12 month subscriptions!

If you want an example of a company that does delivery extremely well, look at Amazon. They under promise and over deliver. Amazon might tell you that your order will be 21 days, and to follow up if you don't have it in 30 days. They now have a tracking system so that you can follow where your package might be in its journey to you. My experience is that I get what I want sooner than promised, rather than ever having any trouble. This policy of tracking and prompt delivery has helped to strengthen Amazon's reputation.

Aim for a strong reputation! Under promise and over deliver, or at least deliver on time.

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