Famous Last Words: 'Stop Touching Me!'
Back when I was running the Target Marketing Group, I would get approximately two calls a month from readers who wanted the magic formula for the ideal number of times a customer should be contacted.
As I recall, several software programs were for sale that had the answer and would give you an electronic goose if you missed the programmer's schedule.
Joe Queenan's Screed
What triggered this column was a think piece in The Wall Street Journal, "Dear Retailer: I Bought It. Now Go Away" by Joe Queenan. He writes:
Last month I went online and ordered 12 tins of Twining's English Breakfast Tea. No special reason. Seconds later, I received an email confirming my purchase. A few minutes later, I received detailed information about how my order would be shipped. Shortly after that, I received an email from UPS explaining how I could track my order. The tea was definitely, definitely on its way.
Much as I appreciate these gestures, I have not reached the point in my life where I need to track my tea order, not for English Breakfast, not for Earl Grey, not for crème de menthe lavender daiquiri camomile … I don't need to know where it's coming from, and I don't need to know when it's getting here.
I was first aware of the instant email acknowledgment when I became a customer of a funky little e-bookseller that soon became great big Amazon.com. I liked how I was treated. Unlike sending an order via snail mail off into the giant USPS maw, Jeff Bezos came up with immediate feedback that assured me my order was in the works.
I don't know when various follow-ups came into the picture—the tracking number and the shipping advice from UPS. But I don't mind these "touches" from a supplier. When I order special dog food from PetFoodDirect.com for my 15-year-old Auggie or hulled sunflower seeds for my winter bird feeder from ebirdseed.com, I am comforted to know that my little four-legged and feathered friends will definitely be seen to in a timely manner.