I ordered a hand exercise product online last week. It was from a website that I stumbled across, and the product was what I was looking for. I placed my ordered and received an email confirmation of my order. And since then…nothing. No delivery of product, no notice of when to expect my shipment, nothing.

To be fair, there were no promises made anywhere on the website or in my confirmation email as to when my order would ship. And that’s where the problem lies.

My expectations (like many consumers, as I have written often before) is that every online seller can meet the standard set by Amazon. And that expectation is that I can have my product delivered for free within three business days. I know that’s not a fair expectation, but since I order most everything I buy online from Amazon, that is what it is. (In my case, I’m an Amazon Prime member and receive free TWO-DAY shipping.)

But any online retailer can manage my expectations by simply telling me what to expect. In the case above, the website and/or the email confirmation simply needs to explain how soon I should expect to receive my shipment. Ideally, if their standard shipping is 5-7 days (or whatever) they would also offer additional choices (with an additional fee, of course) for faster shipment.

So look at all of your order forms, whether they are printed or online, and for every product you sell (yes, even membership and event registrations). Are you telling the buyer what to expect from an order fulfillment perspective? If it’s a paper registration, when should I expect confirmation of registration? If it’s a product order, when should I expect shipment of my product? If it’s a membership join or renewal, when should I expect confirmation of my join or renewal?

You can manage the expectations of your members and customers by clearly communicating what they should expect.