I buy a lot of stuff online, so I get a lot of emails alerting me that my items have shipped, and here is a handy tracking number to follow their progress to me. Sounds great and super useful.
The problem is, if you click on the tracking number soon after you receive an email notification about it, your first impression is one of failure. For the first several hours, you usually get an error that tracking info can’t be found yet for that number. Later that day, it will usually update to “electronic billing information received” which tells you one computer at the retailer talked to another computer at the shipment company, but not much else. Several (unknown number, you have to guess) days later, the tracking info showing destinations left and the highly coveted “OUT FOR DELIVERY” status appears.
I’m a person that responds pretty fast to email and I keep a fairly short window for things sitting in my inbox (typically less than a day, so it’s zero at the end of the day), so that first day, tracking number emails are essentially useless. When they do have useful data several days later, it requires a search of my archived mail to turn them up and I have to remember to check on the packages days later.
Don’t get me wrong, tracking info for the shipment of packages is a great and useful thing, but the user experience of the first time you click on a tracking number link is almost always a disappointment. Is there anything we can do to make the first impression of tracking numbers a useful one?