This past Monday, I had a rather frustrating experience. After a long weekend in Maine, I had scheduled myself to attend Constant Contact's seminar on e-mail marketing for restaurants, which according to their website and every communication I received, was happening at the Boston Public Library (BPL) at 10am. I left early in the morning to run a few errands, didn't have time to check my e-mail before I left, but I figured there would be signs pointing me in the direction of the room the seminar would be in, or some kind of communication about where in the library the seminar was being held.
Unfortunately, there were none. When I asked the person at the front desk, they pointed me to the basement. The people downstairs pointed me upstairs to the first person I talked to. I asked if I could borrow a computer to look up the event, they pointed me to the second floor. I looked the event up on the website - it listed the address of the event, but no room location. I asked the woman at the desk if she knew where the event might be happening, she pointed me back down to the basement. I went to the basement, there were no signs, no doors open, nothing to indicate that this seminar might be happening. After 30 minutes of wandering all over the building, I gave up and went home later that afternoon to find that Constant Contact had sent me an e-mail with the location of the event - at 6:30 Monday morning. In addition, someone from Constant Contact had noticed a twitter post I made about my frustration with being unable to find this event and told me where it was - but I would have had to check my twitter account to see the post.
Mind you, I'm not sharing this story just to rant (although I admit that I am ranting a bit). I'm sharing it because this experience made me think of all the ways that we, as business owners, communicate with our customers - and how often we make unfair assumptions about how people best receive information, or what they do or don't already know.
In this case, Constant Contact unfairly assumed that I would have access to my e-mail at 6:30am on Monday prior to leaving for the event, and didn't feel it necessary to make this information available any other way. As a result, I ended up frustrated and wasted an entire morning. In another case, my otherwise terrific printer failed to get in touch with me when a pattern I'd put in a design was clearly not printing the way that it was meant to, and the job (which was already a rush) had to be rerun. In yet another case, I neglected to communicate to my client exactly when that job was being re-run, and this morning I got an e-mail as the reprinted cards were shipping letting me know that she was hoping to change the paper - and I had to let her know that she couldn't do it this time.
In all of these situations, things ended up working out - but I wonder how many complications and frustrations could be avoided if we were all just a bit more thoughtful about how and what we communicate with our clients. After all, life as a business owner is much more fun when your clients aren't frustrated with you.