UncommonGoods: Radicalizing CX In A World of Nightmares

How one retailer is revolutionizing customer service by committing to one not-so-crazy strategy – keeping promises.

It seems inevitable. Every few weeks the headlines are dominated by the latest in an ongoing saga of customer service nightmares. When the news isn’t covering any particular viral incident, chances are someone in your social network is posting about a terrible experience they had with one company or another. Every industry has it’s own set of “frequent offenders,” among them airlines have overbooked flights, restaurants suffer cleanliness issues, and hotels have issues maintaining their facilities.

In the retail world, half of all ecommerce customers will experience at least one issue a year. Delays, damages and goods simply not arriving at all top the list of customer complaints. These issues are never more prevalent (and more frustrating) than around the holidays. This is not one of those stories.

uncommongoods logoLast week, Father’s Day gift givers frantically placed orders with hundreds of retailers around the country. If you were a customer of online retailer UncommonGoods, though, you didn’t have to worry about missing your deadline. In the weeks that led up to it, UncommonGoods made a pretty radical decision to go above and beyond for Father’s Day to make sure no gift destined for a Dad would miss its deadline.

So what did they do? As simple as it sounds, they kept their promise. MC Halfpenny, Director of Operations for UncommonGoods, said in a recent podcast, “We see the delivery date as a promise. You trusted us with your hard earned cash and we want to deliver that wonderful handmade item, damage free, to your favorite person, by that important date.”

Rather than simply preparing the customer service team to address any inbound calls related to late shipments, the UncommonGoods team used data from Convey to proactively identify shipments that would miss their Father’s Day promise date — days ahead of the actual delivery deadline. This gave the UncommonGoods team the time and information necessary to expedite new shipments guaranteed to meet their destination by Sunday. Meanwhile, existing in-transit shipments were intercepted by the carrier and returned to the warehouse.

Most retailers agree that meeting delivery promises is a top priority, but UncommonGoods is quickly becoming a hero in the minds of their customers. They are taking action to make sure they “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

According to the NRF, Father’s Day spending reached an all time high this year with total sales expected to reach $15.5 billion. While that’s nothing to balk at, it pales in comparison to the volume done during the winter holiday months. Over the 2016 holiday season, Convey tracked hundreds of thousands of packages and found that one out of five shoppers didn’t receive their package on time the week before Christmas.

With common carriers and retailers alike coming under fire for missing important holiday deadlines, what can others learn from UncommonGoods about how to “wow” through proactive support this year? Rob Taylor, CEO of Convey shared the following tips:

Don’t rely on carrier data alone.

Relying on carrier data alone is one of the most frequently overlooked issues when trying to improve the delivery experience. Even if you assume the data carriers provide on their performance is complete and accurate 100% of the time, it still only tells part of the story. For example, many issues can occur that are not the result of a carrier missing their SLA. Things like late tenders or missed pickups can result in delays that are make or break for a customer. For this reason, it’s important for retailers to know, communicate and work against the order promise date, not the estimated delivery date.

Offer opportunities to upgrade service levels post-purchase.

We’ve all been there, buying those last minute gifts as you head into a holiday weekend. Customers will sometimes opt for a free 2-6 day shipping option only to regret that decision as the event gets closer. Offering a post-purchase upgrade can help stave off this buyer’s remorse. If a big holiday is coming up, go the extra mile and send a post-purchase alert to let them know the option is available.

Pro tip: Post-purchase upgrades can be used for services other than speed. For large item deliveries, these include options to upgrade to white glove or room of choice service, while for parcel they might include redirecting a shipment to a new location or requesting the carrier hold it at the terminal.

Being proactive requires more than visibility into in-transit shipments – you must be prepared to act.

Knowing where experience issues occur during the delivery process is only half of the challenge. For any given scenario, you need to have a plan in place for what you are willing to do to correct it. For some issues and/or customers, you may be willing to take a margin hit to gain loyalty points, while for others you may simply want to communicate and reset expectations with the customer.

While doing whatever is necessary to keep their promise to customers may not seem revolutionary, UncommonGoods is rewriting the playbook for what it means to offer best-in-class support. To learn more about UncommonGoods’ strategies for proactive support check out MC’s podcast with Total Retail.

Learn more about how UncommonGoods goes the extra mile to help its customers.