In The Beginning

It’s December of ‘97, and a portion of I-71 shuts down for hours due to a tractor trailer fire. While the driver miraculously jumps out in time, flames destroy the cab along with the rig behind it. In an interview, the driver exclaims that he was bound for Chicago from Columbus, Ohio with a load of wrapped gifts, which now lie destroyed on the shoulder.

Over a few weeks, calls pour in as angry holiday shoppers demand to know the whereabouts of their orders. One parent pleads, “You have all of my stocking stuffers for my son for Christmas. I need them!” A college student desperately tells her customer representative that she needs her book in time to finish her thesis and graduate.

Customer service representatives at a variety of brands spend hours trying to get ahold of the carrier, who in turn, cannot locate the truck. Phones slam on hooks throughout the day as frustrations mount. Customer service representatives are left assuring angry customers that their packages would surely be arriving soon.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Tensions grow over the missing packages for weeks, but no one traces them back to the truck. Calls stream into the center all asking “Where is my order? Where is my order? WHERE IS MY ORDER?!… WHERE…IS…MY…ORDER?!

With carriers off-line, with systems breaking down, antiquated processes straining, and papers flying trying to keep up with customers, a spiky creature manifests among the rubble of packages. WISMO is here!

WISMO immediately begins feeding off the tension, gorging on the negative energy that created it, and is hellbent on creating massive destruction.


And Continues to Multiply

As the years go on, WISMO turns into a living superstition as supply chain leaders across the country witness its antics. It creates chaos wherever it goes, and it only seems to multiply once it arrives. Rumors about WISMO sightings fly around Sally’s Shoe Superstore, but many write it off.

Once, Diana, a Digital Commerce Director thought she saw WISMO standing behind her when she was making sure her company’s website was ready for Black Friday. She glanced back again, and it was gone — must’ve been nothing. She was too busy helping her team develop a Black Friday sale for VIP customers to put more thought into it.

“Wonder what kind of fires I’m going to have to put out today.”

Carrie, the Head of Customer Care, was having the worst day of her life — her team had dealt with a major spike in customer calls, and she had to make sure that they were moving quickly through the queue. She swore that as each call came in, another WISMO would pop out of the phone, but she was determined to have her team tackle as many customer issues possible. During the last call of the night, while a customer was screaming at Carrie’s newest employee, she looked back and saw not one, but fifty angry WISMOs, ruffling papers up and hanging off of the pipes. Both ran out of the room, and there was no trace of the WISMOs the next day — just a giant mess.

Larry, a Logistics Manager, came in one Monday morning to find WISMO sitting in his chair, feverishly sneering from ear to ear. Swatting WISMO away, Larry took a sip of his coffee and turned on his screen, opening up his spreadsheets, and putting the data together from shipments over the weekend. He chuckled to himself, “Wonder what kind of fires I’m going to have to put out today.” After an hour of data analysis and many phone calls to warehouses, he scrambled up to find his boss, Steve, and finally huffed, “Our distribution center was flooded over the weekend. I need help.”

However, for leaders across retail, the nightmare had just begun.

The Saga of WISMO: Delivery Disasters Bring WISMO Calls to Life

WISMO… The Symptom of a Bigger Problem

With customer loyalty at stake, the delivery experience can be the “make or break” point for the consumer-brand relationship. “Where is My Order” (WISMO) calls regularly occur, and can very quickly turn into customer experience nightmares, foretelling a larger supply chain issue.

According to our most recent survey, shoppers want retailers to take ownership of events that may be out of their control, such as delays, incorrect addresses, or damages. In addition to receiving an alert when an exception happens, 89% expect the ability to contact a brand if a delivery goes awry, and even more — 98% — want the option to interact with the brand to fix the issue.

Shoppers want retailers to take ownership of events that may be out of their control, such as delays, incorrect addresses, or damages.

This means that customers expect retailers to take responsibility of their delivery from cart to door, and they expect more than just to know when their orders are arriving. When Carrie’s team of Customer Support Representatives (CSRs) is tackling customer support calls, customers expected CSRs to know where their packages are, why there is an issue, and how to get the deliveries back on track.

In reality, this likely meant that Carrie’s team had to look up each customer’s order on a spreadsheet and spend hours on the phone with different carriers, attempting to escalate and resolve each issue one-by-one. WISMO spikes might be the result of an issue such as a fiery truck catastrophe. They could also be slowly, insidiously cropping up due to poor delivery network decisions that yield slow delivery times, limited shipping service options, or even misfires in carrier-retailer communication.

Worse yet, some brands don’t have the benefit of a WISMO spike to alert them to customer pains. Their customers just don’t come back.

Evolve Your Last Mile Supply Chain to Foil WISMO

In The Saga of WISMO, WISMO manifests due to tension in the system — shippers and carriers are not able to trace the packages back to the truck explosion and quickly communicate which packages were onboard. As a result, shoppers grow impatient and call in, adding WISMO calls to CSR queues. As CSRs spend hours on the phone escalating and resolving each issue, WISMO calls multiply, triggering a vicious cycle.

However, as retailers evolve their last mile supply chain, they have to balance supply chain visibility with cost and customer experience, without compromising either factor. While a spike in WISMO calls may cause short term inefficiency with Customer Care, it also indicates that there are larger problems afoot.

As CSRs spend hours on the phone escalating and resolving each issue, WISMO calls multiply, triggering a vicious cycle.

With the right visibility and tools to collaborate, the brands affected could have surfaced the exceptions in real-time, worked with carriers to solve the case, and re-shipped new packages before the customer realized there was an issue. Solving pain at the source — designing responsive, customer-centric delivery networks and fixing delivery issues before they impact the customer —  can preempt WISMO calls, increase customer satisfaction, and support business growth.