Imagine placing an order with Amazon and no shipping time frame was provided. The product supplier simply said, “we’ll get it to you as fast as possible.” How would you feel? My guess is even if you overcame the uncertainty and purchased the product, you would be a bit nervous about an open ended time frame. In reality, that’s all any company can promise. There are unexpected delays that happen and no business is immune to them however much they improve their processes. So if a company can only promise “as soon as possible,” why do they give specific time frames?
They do this, partially because it’s the right thing to do and will more than likely deliver the package during this time frame, but more so because people need a sense of control. Even though that specific time frame changes nothing about how the product is packaged and delivered to you, it makes you feel a bit of control over when the product will arrive. The sense of control can be amplified by providing expedited shipping. Even if you don’t choose this option, you will have “decided” to have your product in 5-10 business days instead of the 2-3. This control puts you at ease and businesses that don’t provide that sense of control, will suffer the consequences of fewer patrons.
When a line of new elevators was introduced a few years ago, it was met with intense opposition from riders. One passenger even gave a less than favorable presentation at a usability conference. The new elevators had buttons on the outside to choose your destination, but no buttons on the inside. New passengers often walked into the elevator, unaware of the buttons outside, only to be surprised they had nothing to do once inside. Even when regular passengers understood how to use them, they felt uneasy at having nothing to press or “tell” the elevator what to do after walking in. I propose that adding buttons on the inside will give a sense of control to the riders which puts them at ease. Even if an elevator only goes between two floors, a button should be placed on the inside. The button doesn’t even have to do anything, but it will put the passengers at ease.
Providing a sense of control doesn’t necessarily mean giving people something to do either. You can offer an expectation of time or give a countdown for a new release. These expectations will allow people to decide what to do until the product is delivered or released. Again, that gives them a sense of control they otherwise wouldn’t have. This sense of control will make customers more willing to use your services and they will feel they have chosen the right company.
There are many ways to provide a sense of control for customers and getting creative would be a plus. Below are some ways to provide control.
- Tracking apps
- Check lists
- Run system check button
- Refresh button
- Time frame expectations
- Countdown (daily, hourly, etc.)
- Live video feed