This is part 3 of our 4 part Customer Journey Stages series. Click below to view the following stages:
- Part 1: Gaining Customer Insight
- Part 2: Outreach and Promotions
- Part 4: Credit Collection with Proactive Messaging
Does this sound familiar? You order something online and wait all day for it to arrive, only to realize that you’ve somehow missed the delivery? Instead of the package you ordered, you’re greeted with the dreaded “Sorry we missed you” notice hanging from your front door.
Missed deliveries are an unfortunate reality, and they cost companies a fortune — retailers can experience upwards of $368.5 million in lost revenue. Companies have to send replacement deliveries free of charge, even though those customers are now at risk of churning. Plus, frustrated customers post bad reviews online that could result in lost business in the short term.
The good news is that there are ways to improve home-delivery efficiency so that customers get what they what when they expect it.
We’ve put together a three-step process to help you reduce instances of missed deliveries and make way for a more satisfactory customer experience.
For details on maintaining customer satisfaction during extreme weather or crisis, read our article on crisis communication planning.
How to Solve Catastrophic Friction Points in the Digital Customer Journey [PDF]
1. Improve delivery efficiency by sharing shipping details early on.
During the early stages of the customer journey, people hear from companies regularly. Whether communication is through ads, emails, social media, or something else, there’s almost always a constant flow of information to customers. But what about after customers buy something? Keeping them informed is even more critical at this point, but, unfortunately, this is where some companies fall short.
Once they place an order, customers need to be reassured that you’re taking care of their order. Well-thought-out customer success management requires a plan to nurture customers, especially during their first 90 days. Within the first 30 days of welcoming a new customer, one of your goals should be to provide constant value. Use a series of confirmation messages on the optimal channel to let customers know that their order has been received, that it has been processed, and that it will ship out soon.
A quick, proactive, automated message is a nice touch to add to the customer journey. Keeping the customer informed will deter unnecessary inbound calls and keep customers satisfied.
Here’s an example of a series of messages that creates value by keeping the customer up t date once an order has been submitted. This example uses, email, but it can also be achieved through Rich Media Messaging, SMS, or Voice. The key is to use the customer’s preferred channel – the ‘OptiChannel’.
Each message in the series is short, but the information is extremely helpful. Plus, sending a series of proactive interactions instead of a single confirmation shows customers that their order is on track and sets the stage for a positive customer experience.
Email confirmation that the order has been received
Email confirmation indicating when the order will arrive
Confirmation that the order has shipped
Key features that your confirmation messages should include:
- The expected delivery date and time. Since you work in partnership with courier services that work with many other companies, an exact delivery time might not be possible. In that case, at least include a delivery-time window.
- Outline next steps. In the first email in the series, let the customer know that you’ll confirm when their order has been processed and when it has shipped. While they wait, offer links to blog posts that help familiarize the customer with your brand and product(s). Or invite them to join you on social media. Use this strategy as a way to keep the customer engaged with your business and excited about you and what they’ve ordered.
- Share the tracking number. Once the order has been shipped, notify the customer — you can also send an SMS message — so they know when to expect the delivery and can be available. Restate the delivery-time window you shared in the confirmation email. If the order’s going to be available in-store, send an email or call the customer to let them know when the order is ready.
With continuous communication, customers know what to expect and are less likely to miss deliveries because they have more information to work with.
2. Offer customers delivery flexibility.
Over 50% of customers prefer more delivery-time options. You can offer flexibility in two ways:
- When a customer places an order, let them choose their delivery window.
- After the order’s been placed, but before it’s shipped, let the customer reschedule their delivery time:
Delivery windows are helpful because it’s difficult to give customers an exact delivery time due to the many variables that influence when packages arrive. For example, a courier service might run into traffic on the way.
For the best customer experience consider
- offering multiple delivery windows for customers to choose from,
- limiting each delivery window to 3–4 hours vs. all day, and
- letting customers also choose which day of the week the package will be delivered.
This way, customers don’t have to endure the inconvenience of waiting all day for a package to arrive, only to take a chance and step away for a few minutes and miss the delivery or be out of earshot when the doorbell rings.
Make rescheduling as simple as possible for customers. For example, if the customer has to reschedule after they’ve placed their order, use the confirmation email to let them know how to contact customer support to make the change. Another option is to automate the change process so that customers with an account can make changes on their own as long as it’s done before an order ships. Include a “change delivery date and time” deadline in their account dashboards.
With automation, the update can be forwarded to the appropriate departments so that planning, fulfillment, and delivery are adjusted. Once the change is complete on your end, send a confirmation email or SMS message to let the customers know.
This flexibility improves the customer experience and encourages them to come back and shop again. Think about it: If you have the products customers want and also offer lots of delivery flexibility — unlike your competitors — customers are going to choose you because you’ve solved a major pain point for them. Flexibility and a stellar customer service experience work together to improve customer retention.
3. Keep your courier service informed.
Customers buy directly from you, but it’s the courier service that makes sure orders arrive on time. Even though couriers are an external service, they’re part of your team, in a way, since their actions affect your business. A recent study has shown that “32% [of customers] are more likely to blame the retailer for a failed delivery,” so the more information delivery people have, the better the chances of improving customer satisfaction.
Couriers also work with many other retailers, so to help improve your delivery efficiency, here are some strategies to help strengthen your partnerships:
- Use SMS messaging to send delivery notifications and reminders to customers. For example, a few days before the delivery is supposed to arrive, remind customers so that they can prepare and make arrangements. Send another reminder a day before the delivery. Make sure changes are shared with the delivery company so that they can plan accordlingly.
- Ask delivery people to call or text customers. On the day of the delivery, let customers know how close their deliveries are. When delivery people are in the neighborhood, they can let customers know their orders will arrive in 5–10 minutes. That way, customers can make sure they’re available.
- Use interactive SMS messaging to ensure that delivery times are confirmed with customers. Before the delivery ships, use messaging to ask customers to confirm their delivery times and windows. This gives customers another chance to change the delivery time, in case they didn’t get a chance to do so before the shipping deadline. Send a confirmation to the courier service so that they can prepare the delivery.
- Send customers a survey via email, an automated voice call, or an SMS message after the delivery. Use this opportunity to ask customers what the courier service did well and what they can improve on. Share the survey results with the courier company, and work with them to make changes to improve customer experience and retention.
Putting the pieces together
The key to minimizing missed deliveries and improving delivery efficiency is communication throughout the fulfillment process. From order receipt to delivery confirmation, this strategy will help you build a process that keeps customers informed and helps your courier service meet customer expectations.
The more information you share and the more customers know what to expect, the easier it is to create an environment where customers trust that you’ll follow through on what you’ve promised. And the more consistent you are over time, the better your relationships with customers.
Published on: 10th October 2018