Why We Love Those Tracking Numbers

By Mike Raia Posted January 12, 2017


Dawn of the Tracking Number

Remember the first time you looked up a FedEx tracking number and saw exactly where your package was during its long journey to your door? Hold that feeling for a moment.

A 1995 New York Times article indicates that FedEx started providing package tracking to customers in November of that year. Hilariously titled "Companies Use Web Hoping to Save Millions," the article says:

"Since last November, customers have been able to log onto the Federal Express home page on the Web. After calling up on a computer screen a package tracking form, a customer types in his or her bill tracking number. Within minutes, the Internet server, or search system, hooks up with the Federal Express computer in Memphis, finds the information and sends back a status report on the package's whereabouts."

It's hard to believe anyone was willing to wait "minutes" for anything, but it was a simpler time. I also find the phrase "calling up on a computer screen," to be adorable, but those aren't my points. My point is...why was this so revolutionary?

The Business Black Box

By design, much of the business world is a black box to consumers. In some cases, we don't want to know how the sausage is getting made behind the scenes. When you walk into Lowes, you don't care how many engineers and workers it took to make the lawnmower you're interested in, you just know you want the one with the cup holder and mulching blade.

business black box

However, it's different when the "product" is delivered. Before the tracking number existed, all we knew was "It's on its way!" We knew nothing else.

Perhaps irrationally, we could never be sure it was actually going to come. "5-10 business days" is a broad range to our skeptical minds. We felt fear, uncertainty, and doubt. We wanted proof it was coming! Was it at least out of the warehouse? Was it close by? The tracking number gave us the information we craved. We could see where our package had been and where it was going next. The black box was open and we had the peace we needed.

Tracking Enterprise Requests

For end-users of a request and workflow management system like Integrify, the experience is similar. You drop off a request in the employee portal and it begins its journey through your company. Depending on the type of request, there could be many stops along the way, from HR to Finance to Purchasing, etc. Understandably, you'd like to know where your request is currently sitting. Has it made it past the first approver? Has finance provided input? Who will be next in the process to take action?

The great news is, just like with FedEx, you can track the status and location of your request through the entire Integrify process. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are replaced by understanding and visibility. Not only is this a blessing for the person who submitted the request, but all that workflow tracking also helps everyone else in the process. Everyone knows when it's their turn in the process and what to do next.

So rather than relying on email, spreadsheets and other outdated forms of request management, why not offer your employees that "FedEx experience" every time they make a request?

Mike Raia

Marketing the world's best workflow automation software and drinking way too much coffee. https://about.me/mikeraia

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