The one thing all customers want

Over the past few weeks, I have learned some very obvious things about people, one of which particularly stood out to me. I’ve shared this with some close friends and they encouraged me to share it with more people. As it turns out, this obvious truth isn’t actually all that obvious.

Disclaimer: This is my first blog post, so bear with me as I nervously try to convey my thoughts on here.

Two weeks ago, I had to catch a BOLTBUS from New York City to Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a pretty early start of the day for me. I woke up, did my morning routine, jumped on the train and headed to 33rd st. and 11th ave, where I’d be catching the bus.

I bolted out the train when it pulled into the station. I was already 10 minutes late leaving home and the train traffic added another 8 minutes.

Random bus wait

Chaos greeted me as I arrived at the bus station. I watched as anxious passengers swarmed the bus next to the road with their tickets in their hands, loudly speaking over each other and demanding information concerning the whereabouts of the bus they had booked. I could sense anger and frustration all around.

From what I could gather it seemed like they had been waiting for sometime and none of the bus representatives were really telling them what was going on. We waited for some more time, say another 20 to 30 minutes and at this point people were furious. Our departure time had passed, our bus wasn’t there and we had no idea what was going on because the representatives were not saying anything to us.

I quietly observed the environment as the frustration continued to grow among passengers. I listened closely as some of the people waiting with me began to express their frustration to each other and to the representatives. Surprisingly I didn’t hear any of the complaints I expected to hear. No one complained that we were 45 minutes behind schedule. No one complained about the punishing 90 degree sun. No one complained about hurting legs from prolonged standing. But everyone was complaining about one thing:

no one was telling us what was going on.

A few moments into all the yelling and complaining, one of the bus representatives walked up to us and said “The bus going to Greenbelt, Maryland is delayed, it will be arriving soon. We are sorry about the delay”. Her words brought about complete calm. All the complaining stopped. It seemed like what she said had lifted a huge burden off of people’s shoulder. Contentment was written all over everyone’s face. It finally clicked. People wanted to know what was going on. That was it! All the frustration and anger and complaining, was caused by a lack of information.

It turns out there is a direct correlation between this story and your business, your relationships and pretty much everything you do in your day to day life.

“All our [customers] want, is to know what is going on”. This has been one of our mottos at Shypmate recently. As it relates to you, you can replace the word “customers” for something else like: mom, wife, boyfriend, business partner, investor, employees, and the list goes on and on.

People get frustrated when they are left in the dark. We learned this lesson the hard way at Shypmate, after being yelled at a few times, maybe a lot of times by some of our customers.

Whenever there is an update- good or bad, inform your customers. I promise you, if you let your customers know what is going on, even if it is bad, 99% of the time, they will be more satisfied than not knowing what is going on at all. Of course the delivery of what you say is also important, so be mindful of that.

This principle applies to everyday life as well.

When you go out and won’t be back at the expected usual time, a simple text message or call to your wife, parents, siblings, roommates or whoever is responsible and cares will go a long way. Let them know what is going on and why you won’t be back on time. I assure you that you would have done a lot in preventing that seemingly imminent argument and frustration that always arises as a result of this.

When someone offends you, instead of being quiet and not letting them know what they did (especially when it is not obvious), talk to them. If you are too upset to talk, write them. Bottom line is, communicate with them. People don’t read minds, well most people I know don’t, so how are they supposed to know what you are thinking?

Transparency + Open + Timely communication with customers = great customer service. This formula has been very instrumental in how we interact with our customers at Shypmate.

It’s a very simple formula with a lot of power, yet can be very difficult to implement. I hope you too can apply it to your life.