How a Run-On Sentence Builds Trust

A while back, I ordered a package from somewhere overseas.

When it didn’t arrive after a month, I wasn’t concerned. With the corona lockdowns and whatnot, shipping was slow.

When one month became two, I sent them a quick email asking them to check on it.

The response I got back was beautiful.

To paraphrase, it was something like:

“This is strange – it sat in a port in the US for a month and then arrived in Hong Kong a month ago, which I don’t know if that’s normal when shipping to Australia because I’ve never tracked that before, but here are the tracking details if you want to keep an eye on it. This is ridiculous.”

I love this for so many reasons.

They were as confused and irritated as I was. The worst thing they could have been was flippant, but flying into a rage against the shipping company wouldn’t have helped either.

A person clearly wrote this, not copying it from a list of standard responses. Which, to be fair, I would have been fine with. All I wanted was some clarity – and to make sure the package hadn’t ended up somewhere strange.

I could tell this was hand-typed just for me – and, no, not because it had plenty of specific details.

Also, this was in the language of humans, not corporatese. “Thank you for your enquiry. Your happiness is important to us. Err: PLATITUDE-3.txt not found.”

It showed me a human who cares about the business looked into my enquiry.

It made me trust them more.

Which is funny if you think about it. A vast, soulless, bureaucratic system, driven by rules, algorithms and software, might solve my problem faster. Bureaucracy is efficient when it’s well-designed and reality plays nice without doing anything unexpected.

Maybe that person fired off that email, then went out for a smoko and forgot about it.

But my perception of the situation says I should trust them.

It’s like in The Simpsons Movie. Homer’s laziness destroyed Springfield and condemned them all to a slow, painful death.

His response to the angry mob?

“The word ‘apology’ has been thrown around a lot these days… ”

People trust people.

And we trust people who sound like people, not human mouthpieces for faceless organisations.

If you want folks to trust you, be yourself. Or if you’re sick of that advice, keep it real.