It’s the week before Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air! Ava decides she’s going to go all out this year, and she excitedly goes online and orders a new Rolex and a box of truffles that she and her husband had eaten on their first date. Sean orders two dozen roses for his girlfriend from the website of his favorite national florist. Julian, who has been scheming for months to propose on Valentine’s Day, searches the internet for hours before picking out the perfect engagement ring. They all click the bright “BUY” buttons, and start to plan out their date nights.

When Valentine’s Day Hinges On The Perfect Order

Over the course of the week, as the shoppers hurry to get their Valentine’s Day orders in on time, orders begin to rack up for Jenny’s Jewelry, Farm-to-Bouquet, and Sweet as Sugar Chocolate Boutique. Their teams had spent months planning for this day! The eCommerce teams at each company spent time and countless dollars on acquisition campaigns, trying to get people to convert through their site.

In a distribution hub in Minneapolis, logistics teams of all three companies race to get the orders fulfilled so the packages can arrive in time for Valentine’s Day. Some warehouse workers report seeing little green gremlins on-site, but they shake it off and keep packing up shipments. The team ships the packages off, and they all head home in time to get ready for the storm of the century — the Polar Vortex — that was about to hit the entire North.

Broken Brand Promises Lead To Broken Hearts

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Sean, Julian, and Ava still haven’t received their gifts. Sean still isn’t sure why his flowers haven’t arrived, so he calls Farm-to-Bouquet to make sure that they would arrive on time for his special dinner that he was planning. When he finally gets in contact with the customer care representative, she tells him that his order was delayed by a day due to the weather.

Julian calls into Jenny’s Jewelry, only to be told that he’ll have to wait on hold for 45 minutes. When a customer service representative finally gets on the phone with him, she tells him that the package experienced a carrier delay, and might be late, She offers him 1,000 loyalty points for him to use in the future, but he finally hangs up and sends a tweet: “@JennysJewels, you were supposed to create the happiest moment of my life. I can’t propose tomorrow without the ring.”

Ava checks her tracking page every day until her orders arrive at her house, so she can make sure that she gets to her husband’s presents before he picks them up off of the porch. When the day arrives, and she gets a notification that her package has been dropped off, she hurries home to wrap her gifts. She climbs up to the top of her porch, sees the boxes, and her stomach sinks. Both boxes look beat-up, and one looks completely smashed from the sides.

She carefully opens the other beat-up box. The side looks like someone tampered with it, and when she opens up the side of the box, she only finds packing paper inside — her husband’s watch is missing. She picks up the phone to call both and let them know that they seriously messed up her order and her Valentine’s Day plans, and that she better get a refund ASAP.

Meanwhile, at all three companies, phones are ringing off the hook and papers are flying as customer service representatives frantically search for their customers’ orders. WISMOs seem to be springing from dark corners into plain sight.

Each representative rushes to call carriers while their customers were on hold, going through phone trees trying to escalate each issue. Meanwhile, the WISMOs only seem to be growing by the second, using their most devious tricks to distract the team. They pull hair, knock over coffees, and worst of all, they begin to jump up in the air and throw mini arrows at each other, causing a major distraction as they pretend to be love-struck. 

As it takes longer for them to get through each call, and each customer care representative becomes overwhelmed with WISMOs, their customer queues fill up with angry customers on the other end, who have been waiting on hold for what seems like hours.

For now, there appears to be no end in sight for these teams or their customers.

Especially During Holidays, Retailers Can’t Afford Shipping Disasters

During time-sensitive, gift-giving holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, on-time delivery can make or break customer experience. In all three customer scenarios, the customers’ plans, and their significant others’ experiences hinged on a perfect delivery. Instead, Sean is empty-handed on Valentine’s Day, Julian loses his opportunity to propose, and Ava doesn’t get to celebrate a special memory with her loved one.

Valentine’s Day may be warm and fuzzy, but in the dead of winter — and in this year’s Polar Vortex — delivery issues can stop packages from arriving cold. During the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, this was definitely the reality for retailers across the U.S. Convey detected that 33.5% of its exceptions were due to miss their EDD, and another 25.3% were due to weather delays.

For retailers, failed deliveries not only represent missed opportunities for brand connections, but they are likely to cause the companies to lose customers as well — and appeasements are not enough to solve the issue either. According to our last customer survey, 84% of customers will not return after a poor delivery experience — even if the delivery is out of their hands and their control. Over 94% of shoppers will still blame retailers for any carrier issues that occur.

Foster A Love Story Between Your Brand And Your Customers

Companies such as UncommonGoods are using Delivery Experience Management to make sure that they don’t break their customer promises during major holidays. During the lead-up to every major holiday, their team monitors all of their shipments in real-time and identifies any delivery exceptions such as delays or damages — anything that will cause the package to arrive late or in a poor state at their customers’ doorsteps. Then they take action: If an item is bound to miss its promise date or would miss customer expectations, UncommonGoods quickly works with the carrier to stop the item in transit, alerts the customer, and it expedites a new package out so that no holiday is ruined. As a result, the company has saved countless customer experiences, has extended their lifetime values (LTV), and has built a cult following.

Other companies, such as DTC up-and-comer Grove Collaborative, have even found that Delivery Experience Management impacts other key metrics such as NPS, revenue and AOV as well. Cross-collaboration in exception management and proactively managing deliveries helped them to increase their NPS scores by 9.4%, they found that they positively impacted customers who may have had otherwise terrible delivery experiences, and they increased scores for those customers by three points. 

By proactively identifying problem shipments such as damages and incorrect addresses, notifying customers, offering small delivery appeasements, and re-shipping packages, Grove saw an ROI of $65 per damaged shipment, and they were able to reduce their customer response time by 77%.

In this scenario, customers such Ava wouldn’t be calling in the first place — she wouldn’t have a damaged box of truffles or an empty watch box to deal with, and Julian wouldn’t have to wait on hold for long periods of time.