Written by Starshipit
A customer adds a product to their cart, enters their credit card and address details, hits ‘Buy Now’, and eagerly awaits their new purchase to be delivered.
A few days pass. No delivery. A few more days pass. Still no delivery. They check their order confirmation email. The tracking link says the parcel was picked up by a courier two days ago … but where is it? Another week passes. Still no delivery. They check their order confirmation email again. The parcel is apparently still in transit. Their next move? To contact the store they bought it from and complain.
When couriers experience higher-than-usual demand, it can be hard to manage your customers’ expectations. A customer wants to receive the thing that they paid for in the timeframe they expected to, which means that delays often reflect negatively on retailers even if they’re out of their control.
So how do you manage customers’ expectations when courier delays are inevitable and beyond your control? Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Here are five ways to improve your communication around delivery so you can offer a great customer experience despite high demands.
If you’re experiencing high volumes or know you’re coming into a busy period, be honest and upfront with your customers from the moment they visit your website. Add a banner to your homepage saying that couriers are experiencing high volumes and therefore delivery timeframes will be longer than normal. Add reminders to product pages and checkout. Send emails and post about it on your social channels. Encourage consumers to not leave their shopping to the last minute.
Customers appreciate transparency and honesty. The more information you can provide them upfront, the more likely they’ll cut you some slack if their order doesn’t arrive on time.
At checkout, give your customers the chance to consider priority and urgency before they hit ‘Buy Now’. By offering delivery options like standard, express, overnight or Click & Collect, along with different rates for each of them, you encourage your customer to consciously think about when they really want their order to be delivered versus when they need it to be.
If you only offer standard shipping, your couriers will be swamped with orders with the same level of priority, even if your customers would have been happy waiting a week or so. Give customers a choice, including varying rates, and by default your couriers will be happier too.
Post-purchase, tracking pages empower customers to self-manage the tracking of their order, while reducing the number of enquiries retailers get from customers looking for delivery updates.
Brand those tracking pages with your own logo, colours and brand personality, though, and you’ve added a whole new opportunity of post-purchase engagement to the equation. While a standard tracking page supplied by the courier only focuses on order status, a branded tracking page puts the retailers’ overall identity pride of place. In this email, direct customers to specials on your website, discount codes for their next purchase, your social channels, an email subscribe portal – you could also add a reminder here that couriers are currently experiencing delays so be patient.
There’s nothing more disconcerting for a customer who’s expecting a delivery than radio silence.
Sending email or SMS notifications at key stages of the delivery journey, like ‘printed’, ‘picked up’ and ‘out for delivery’, is a great way to keep customers informed about the status of their order.
If you know that a lot of your customers are being affected by courier delays, a follow-up ‘we haven’t forgotten you’ email might be appreciated too. Use this as an opportunity to acknowledge that the courier network is experiencing delays due to high volumes, and that you’re doing your best to keep everyone informed. An email doesn’t have to be long, but it should acknowledge their frustration, and give them confidence that they haven’t paid X amount of money for nothing.
A delay in delivery could result in a bad impression from your customer (and even worse, bad reviews). If a late delivery means that you could lose a customer, consider offering refunds, store credit, discounts, or free shipping next time around to put a smile on their dials again.
It’s important to find the middle ground here, though. Delivery delays are not your fault and you probably don’t have much influence on speeding them up. If you were to take a financial hit on every single delay, you probably wouldn’t have a profitable business anymore.
Courier delays are inevitable, although sometimes they happen more often than you’d like. But when they’re out of your control, all you can do is keep your customers informed. The more you keep them in the loop with open, honest and transparent communication – even if it’s not good news – the more they’ll trust you.
Starshipit’s smart fulfilment automation enables online retailers to add options at checkout and send customers branded tracking pages and notifications at key stages of the delivery journey. Ready to enhance your customer experience during the delivery process? Sign up for a free 30-day trial with Starshipit and get started today.