**Warning: The following story is based on a true event. All people and companies have been anonymized for their own protection.
Shipment Exception: Unable to Deliver
Lisa* was ecstatic when “HomeStore” indicated she would receive her new exterior lights on Thursday — just in time for her dinner party that weekend. That was until Thursday came and went. She checked the carrier’s website multiple times a day. Every time it read: “In Transit.” Days passed with no update until she opened the expanded details and saw the last entry read “Shipment Exception: Unable to Deliver.”
When Bad Things Happen to Good Packages
Concerned, Lisa called to find out what went wrong. Over an hour was spent on the phone to find out that they didn’t even know where her shipment was. Days later she found out the lights had been destroyed in a fire and that she would need to call “HomeStore” to request a replacement. Lisa waited over three weeks to receive a product she had hoped would be at her home and installed within five days.
When asked about her package, Lisa said: “I remember being so frustrated. If they had just notified me then I could have gotten a replacement so much sooner. We weren’t even able to take any photos outside because it was too dark!”
Prevent Bad Deliveries:
It’s important that retailers have a process for escalating serious exceptions like these to be resolved by a customer service representative. If “HomeStore” had the ability to reach out to Lisa proactively to let her know what was going on, her frustration would have been minimized and “HomeStore” would have had the opportunity to ‘wow’ by resolving the issue quickly before Lisa had to do the leg work herself.
“I remember being so frustrated. If they had just notified me then I could have gotten a replacement so much sooner.”
Customers are generally understanding than many retailers realize — as long as the retailer proactively can show that it cares about the package being sent. According to our last consumer research report:
- 93% of customers want to know if an exception happens to their package — and that number increases to 96% if the package is damaged, like Lisa’s.
- 4 out of 10 customers would like a notification immediately if anything goes wrong.
- 50% of customers want a delivery notification through email when there is an exception.
Going from Delivery Disaster to Competitive Advantage
To be competitive in today’s world, retailers must focus on the experience throughout the entire order lifecycle while maintaining cost. However, this level of personalization should not increase cost-to-serve for each customer. In fact, since 70% of customers will not return after a poor delivery experience, reaching out in this moment can even save Lisa’s retailer from spending additional acquisition costs to make up for customer loss.
In this case, Lisa’s situation was likely applicable to many other customers whose packages also burned to a crisp in the warehouse fire. With the right visibility, retailers should be able to see what’s happening with each delivery in real time and simultaneously diagnose and escalate any cases with carriers. They should then notify all impacted customers, and take proactive steps to re-ship all affected packages.
To transform delivery into a competitive advantage will require finding a balance between simply reducing costs and metrics that impact the customer’s experience. The key will be to focus on real-time performance data to drive fulfillment decisions that are tied to each unique customer and order but still aligned to business goals.