Reading about Amazon’s delivery drones earlier this week you would be forgiven for thinking that April Fool’s day had come four months early. If the firm’s ‘Prime’ annual-fee delivery model hadn’t disrupted things enough, the half-hour deliveries claimed by ‘Prime Air’ will surely push convenience and an expectation of near instant gratification from online retail to dizzying new heights. There are plenty of questions regarding the practicalities and logistics of such a service but, above all that, what does it say about what we as customers are going to come to expect?
In any service industry, companies must carefully manage customer expectation in order to mitigate any avoidable PR incidents resulting from disgruntled consumers. This is especially true given that anyone can – and will – air any frustrations online within seconds. I’m old enough to remember the birth of ecommerce and how amazing it was to buy anything online at all. Move along a few years and if we aren’t able to find a product online the moment we think to buy it, and if it doesn’t arrive promptly, it feels like some kind of outrageous liberty has been taken away from us. And God forbid any retailer that doesn’t immediately reply to a ‘where’s my stuff’ query.
The more we come to expect, the bigger the issue it is when something goes wrong and the bigger the need for firms to be prepared to handle customer queries and complaints instantly. It will be interesting to see if flying drone deliveries really do take off, but I’m equally curious about the technology that will support the inevitable impact this will have on customer relations.