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Is Your Customer Delivery Experience In A Tailspin? – Know The 6 Steps For More Delighted Customers

In the age of eCommerce, your shoppers of your online business will receive a bad delivery experience at some point or other. More importantly, many of these customers will not buy from your business in the future. Worst of all, your customers will likely leave bad reviews online. Indeed, a bad customer delivery experience for any business is a tragedy. In this article, I’ll spell out the 3 terrible business costs for a bad delivery experience. And more importantly, I’ll detail my recommended 6 step process for you to improve your customers’ delivery experience. So, let’s started keeping more of your customers delighted. 

The 3 Major Costs When Your Customer Experiences a Bad Delivery.

A bad delivery experience adversely affects your business in 3 ways:

1) Poor Customer Retention

2) Increased Costs, Reduced Operational Efficiency

3) Negative Reputation, Loss Sales

One Bad Customer Delivery Experience Leads To 3 Disastrous Results: Both Now And In The Future.

So, even one bad customer delivery experience can lead to 3 disastrous results: both now and in the future. Indeed for eCommerce businesses, many think customer delivery as an afterthought and they leave it up to the delivery carriers. However, here’s the thing: poor delivery experiences can have a serious cost to your brand. To help you understand the consequences of a bad customer delivery experience, click here for a detail explanation of these 3 major costs to your business.

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them—preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”

Richard Branson

6 Steps on How To Improve Your Customers’ Delivery Experience.

Every business aspires to delight their customers. Also, this is true in the eCommerce business, and specifically in regard to your customers’ delivery experience. Now, Amazon has set the bar on what is a good delivery experience.  However, you do not need to replicate Amazon’s delivery experience, but it is a starting point. Specifically, you need to have a customer delivery experience tailored to your business. What’s more, you need to balance costs versus meeting  and exceeding customers’ expectations. Below are 6 steps for any business to work toward achieving 100% positive delivery experience for all their customers.

1. Tailor Your Shipping Options To Your Brand.

Are you selling luxury goods or selling heavily discounted items? Other questions you need to ask yourself includes are your products bulky or small items that can fit in a mailbox? Namely there are a wide range of shipping options, but you only need to offer shipping options that match your brand and the product you ship. For example if you are selling furniture, you do not need to offer a next day air service. In another case if your customers are environmentally conscious, you can offer a carbon neutral shipping option.

Indeed, do remember Amazon sets the standard with “free” 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, but tailor your shipping options to your brand and your customers. For more details on how to do this, see my article, Offer Shipping Options That Will Make Your Business More Competitive: A 5-Step Market Segment Approach.

2. Provide A Simple Checkout Process That Assures A Positive Delivery Experience.

A customer’s delivery experience is tied to their overall customer experience. So at checkout, do not bewilder your customers with a bunch of confusing delivery options. This will not delight your customer, and may even result in a lost sale. Also, provide an estimated delivery date for each shipping option. Additionally, it is best to have a default shipping option, and then where appropriate, offer other shipping options. Indeed the question to ask yourself – will you lose sales if you do not offer particular shipping options? Examples of other shipping options are: next day delivery at additional cost, slower delivery with free shipping, “white gloves” delivery versus curb delivery, and so on. 

3. Add A Post-Purchase Delivery Experience Strategy To Your Overall Customer Experience Solution.

Knock, Knock. Special Delivery!

If you are shipping packages to customers and do not have a post delivery experience strategy, you need to get one. Emphatically, you own your customers’ delivery experience, not the delivery service. To illustrate, you need to think of the delivery service as your sales clerk. If you think about what a sales clerk does in a traditional retail store, there is only one thing that has changed with eCommerce. Specifically with eCommerce purchase, you have elongated the time between purchase and customer’s receipt of their purchase. So you need to come up with a delivery experience strategy. To explain, there are two parts to a post-purchase delivery strategy described below.

First, You Need a Customer Communications Strategy That Assures Constant and Transparent Communications.

The customer wants to know: has my order been processed? Where is my package? What is the ETA? Moreover, customers do not want to get a text that says “the shipping label was created.” Ideally, your business should provide branded messages about product delivery status. This enhances communications and can even provide opportunities for cross-selling.

Second, You Need A Plan To Assure That Your Supply Chain Is Competent.

Is your supply chain stuck in the last century where they are on a two to six week shipping schedule? See SC Tech Insights’ Unlock Your Outbound Logistics – How To Make Your Customers Rave for four recommended goals to assure your customers have a positive delivery experience. 

Unlock Your Outbound Logistics – How To Make Your Customers Rave.

Even if you are doing pretty good with outbound logistics, it probably is not focused on your customer and it does not provide a competitive edge. It is time for you to unlock your outbound logistics. Click here for an explanation of the state of outbound logistics and four goals we recommend to assure your customers have a positive delivery experience. 

4. Integrate Delivery Experience Data Into Your Overall Order Fulfillment Solution.

Even if you have a good customer service organization, they are useless if they do not have real-time access to your customers’ order status. Positively, they must have actionable information, and ideally be proactive to prevent delivery exceptions. Additionally, customers want convenience and results, not excuses or “not my department”.

All eCommerce companies need a data integration plan. Specifically, how do they get shipment status data from the parcel carrier to their customer service system? Also, how do they get data from their 3rd party order fulfillment system? Lastly, how do they get data from the shipping department? In addition, there are a lot of different terms for this type of data visibility, like “unified view”, “source of truth”, and “control tower”. Whatever you call it, you need it. For more details on data integration, see Want To Integrate Data For Better Business Visibility? Here’s How To Do It. 

5. Delight Your Customers – Manage Your Customers’ Delivery Experience.

So you have a customer delivery experience plan and have access to the data you need – what’s next? The next step, and the most important step, is you need to manage each and every one of your customers’ deliveries. First, the key is to keep it simple. Ideally, there should be one person who is empowered and accountable for your customers’ delivery experience. Second, there should be one system that holds the information to manage your customers’ delivery experience. Both of these prerequisites may have challenges, but your customers do not want excuses.

It is not good, if your customer service agents blame a bad delivery experience on the parcel carrier, the warehouse, the shipping department, or worst the customer service rep knows less than the customer. If you are a large business, you may consider a dedicated Delivery Experience Management (DEM) system.  Specifically, these systems may work for some companies as they are built exclusively for helping companies manage their customers’ delivery experience. For a business case for a DEM system, see GetConvey’s Delivery Experience Management is the Future of the Last Mile.

In a lot of cases, you may be able to use an existing in-house system. Examples of such systems that could be used include existing systems for customer service, order fulfillment, shipping, transportation management, or a custom data warehouse with business intelligence reporting.

6. Personalize The Delivery Experience.

Besides just good communications and supply chain competence, you can also delight your customers by adding personal touches. For small businesses and even large companies, personalized service can distinguish your company from the competition. As an example, this could include such things as flexible delivery options, sustainable packaging,  or handwritten notes.

For more information and perspectives on improving your customers’ delivery experience, see ParcelIndustry’s 10 Tips to Improve the Delivery Experience, Qualtrics’ Delivery Experience, GetCircuit’s What Makes a Great Delivery Experience, TheFutureofeCommerce’s How to Create the Best Delivery Experience, Forbes’ Five things eCommerce Sellers Should Do To Provide a quality delivery experience, and Bringg’s Customer Experience in Delivery and Fulfillment.

For more from SC Tech Insights, see articles on supply chains.

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