My family is completing the major milestone of purchasing our first home. We initially bought it on paper, needing a lot of faith that it would actually get built, and not end up as a hole in the ground for year, like so many other housing starts in our area. We would walk by the construction site on a regular basis and see, bit by bit, that it was in fact being built.
But then we reached a point where it seemed like it could get finished already. And the delivery date came. And the delivery date went – and we heard nothing from the management. Without information, the mind starts to wander, friends tell horror stories, and we began to think the worst.
Fast forward several weeks, many nights of lost sleep, anxiety-induced discomfort, and frustration as the expiry date for the lease on our current apartment approaches, and we are asked to do an inspection. We schedule our work and childcare around it. They try to change the date and time on us, to delay, all sorts of things. We grow more concerned. Then we finally go, and sure enough, not much has been done – for weeks.
Throughout this entire ordeal, if we had been notified that there were delays, or why there were delays, we would be annoyed, but could cope. The difficulty of not knowing when in fact our apartment would be ready, with the major holiday of Passover approaching, our current apartment lease expiring, and myriad of other smaller logistics, made us nervous and expect the worst.
Communication is Key
I bet that 99% of the problems, the headaches, and legal fees, could have been avoided if there was proper communication, about what is expected from the buyer, from the seller, who to be in touch with for what, and what the heck is the progress on the project.
How are you in communication with your providers? Or your customers? Is it going smoothly?
One of the best ways to provide regular updates is e-mail marketing and social media. E-mail marketing is better suited toward targeted updates, because you can select specific audiences, for example one list for buyers of a home, and another list for those who have expressed interest in buying but are still in the sales funnel. Social media is better for more general updates.
I used to think of regular marketing via e-mail and social media as a tool to recruit and retain customers, to keep them in the loop and remember what we offer. But this experience led me to understand that regular communication with customers is important in order to prevent misunderstandings as well.
How To Communicate Effectively
Here is how you do it right. I’ll give an example from a much smaller purchase, a mifold booster seat. These highly portable child booster seats were supposed to have begun shipping, but there were a few delays. I received an e-mail with a video update from the head of the company, explaining the reasons for the delay, acknowledging his customer’s frustration, and apologizing for the inconvenience.
How much happier do you think we are knowing that they acknowledge the issue and provide a resolution, rather than leaving us to discover the delay for ourselves and start to worry that we may never see the product that we paid for?