Last mile logistics aren’t notorious for being easy. As eCommerce sales rise and the last mile becomes more complex, there are a lot of variables that can get in the way of a happy customer in the post-purchase experience.
According to our data, 11% of shipments are impacted by exceptions such as late delivery, incorrect addresses, and damaged packages. Across the board, shoppers are asking for more communication on their terms: Zendesk data shows that 64% of customers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use.
At present, the lack of communication that causes customers to reach out after an order is placed includes things like missing tracking information, lack of updates around order fulfilment, unclear delivery windows, and more. This lacking post-purchase communication ends up impacting the overall customer experience, drives up expensive customer support queues, and impacts long-term customer loyalty.
But it doesn’t have to work this way. You can get in front of these issues by pre-empting WISMO calls.
What Does WISMO Stand For?
WISMO stands for: “Where Is My Order?” These calls occur when a customer feels out of the loop on a delivery exception. WISMO calls account for up to 50% of inbound calls to customer care centers. And they cost an average of roughly $5 to resolve–each.
The key to understanding WISMO calls is to realize they’re not the problem. They’re the result of post-purchase miscommunication. Over 33% of customers would prefer to clean toilets than speak with customer representatives. If they’re calling you, there’s already a problem.
Relying on customers to reach out to you is no way to inspire brand loyalty and long-term value in each customer.
The Stakes of a Poor Last Mile Experience
When you’ve already received a customer order, it’s tempting to feel that you’ve done your job as a retailer. But when it comes to long-term customer value, an order is just the beginning. There’s a lot at stake at the last mile:
The Stakes Of A Poor Post-Purchase Experience For Consumers:
Consumers care a lot about their entire shipping experience, but the last mile is becoming a priority. In Last Mile Delivery Wars, we noted that 24% more customers believed delivery was important to their overall shopping experience in 2019 than in 2018.
The last mile is even more critical during “crunch time.” In particular: the holidays, when many retailers amp up their post-purchase expectations. Shoppers raise their expectations, too: 32% of shoppers are more likely to blame the retailer for a failed delivery during the holidays.
Bottom line: What you do in the last mile will shape the customer’s entire perception of your brand.
The Stakes Of Last Mile Delivery For Retailers:
Costs: Keep in mind that if a shipping exception occurs, you may have to issue refunds to keep the customer happy. 57% of consumers said they would be impressed if their retailer either refunded shipping costs or expedited shipping.
Remember that the post-purchase experience reflects your investment in the lifetime value of each customer. We’ve addressed lifetime value before, but are the cliff’s notes on why this metric should matter to every retailer:
- Leveraging CRM data to identify “power” customers: We found that 52% of power shoppers” care most about delivery efficiency and ease of service when deciding which brands to follow.
- Avoiding customer churn: Customers would prefer not to call you, so it’s no surprise that research shows that poor post-purchase experiences are a major source of customer churn. And according to Last Mile Delivery Wars, 98% of shoppers stake their entire brand loyalty on the delivery experience.
When you deal with WISMO calls, you spend more time and energy on a per-customer basis. Pre-empting post-purchase WISMO calls helps you reduce churn and inspire brand loyalty.
Why Communication is So Vital During the Post-Purchase Experience
It’s a simple formula: customers reach out when they don’t know what’s going on. If you have track and trace enabled on your deliveries, customers will be in the loop. They’re not going to place WISMO calls when they can identify the package’s location at any time.
But failing that, your second-best bet is to reach out to customers first. This is especially true if you can reach out on their terms.
How To Communicate with Customers The Way They Prefer
Your customers want to know what’s happening with their orders. 41% of consumers who received a notification after a shipment movement were more likely to return to the brand, even if they had a negative experience.
That’s a start, but being proactive isn’t enough. You have to have systems in place to reach out to customers when something does go wrong. Here are our recommendations:
- Package tracking: Take the example of Uncommon Goods. When a customer makes an order, they’ll receive an email with a “track package” link. That link leads to a custom landing page that lets them sign up to texts and emails for tracking alerts. Although losing out on timely delivery is frustrating, the ability to track and trace helps reduce WISMO calls by inviting the customer to choose their communication settings. [Learn what ‘must-haves’ you need on your tracking page.]
- Reaching out on your customers’ terms: It’s not just proactive communication that matters. What matters is that you reach out to a customer that’s listening. In Last Mile Delivery Wars, we found that customers preferred email (56%), followed by SMS (33%) and the tracking page itself (10%) when receiving updates on shipping. And customers prefer more communication during times of uncertainty, such as peak season or COVID-19. In times of stress and uncertainty, 68.5% of shoppers said they preferred more communication around the item availability and delivery status, according to our recent COVID-19 survey. [Learn how to communicate with your customers during and after COVID-19.]
Customer Care Best Practices: What To Do When a Delivery Goes Wrong
The ability of a customer to track package issues is important. And when something goes wrong, reaching out is a great start. But what should you say and do when you reach out? What can you do to leave the best possible impression on customers and reduce WISMO calls?
- Take ownership of the issue: Consumers don’t feel responsible for what happens during shipping; 96% of them expect you to take the lead if a product has been damaged, for example. Stay accountable and take ownership of the issue if you want to earn customers’ respect.
- Update your customers, even with bad news: 95% of customers expect to receive a notification of a change in shipment date. These expectations will impact your WISMO calls if you don’t address them — instead, you can keep customer confidence high by letting them know that you understand what’s happening with their deliveries, and you have a plan to make things better when they go wrong.
Provided the rest of the last mile experience is smooth, one shipping notification can be enough to keep a customer in the loop. But inspiring brand loyalty and preventing WISMO calls can require you to make a decision: Are you going to take ownership of this issue and go the “extra mile”?
In “Commitment, Communication, and Control,” we identified customers’ favorite ways for companies to exceed their expectations:
- Automatically refunding shipping costs if a delivery is late (58%)
- Expedited shipping for free on late deliveries (57%)
- Letting customers choose a specific delivery date (38%)
- Allowing the shopper to reroute the package (19%)
- Allowing the shopper to request package holding at the terminal (11%)
The common thread: customers like it when they have options. Especially if those options help them with the delivery experience and get a product in their hands. If they never have to call you and ask “WISMO” all the better.
WISMO Calls are a Sign That A Larger Issue Is Afoot
Too many retailers respond to delivery issues reactively. The result: customer service teams have to wade through long customer queues.
However, when you respond proactively to a negative event, customers become more satisfied with your brand, which has long-term effects on everything from churn to bottom-line sales.
We’ve found that many of Convey’s customers do best by communicating first. This reduces WISMO and increases NPS (Net Promoter Score). Here are a few examples of proactive communication in action:
- Bodybuilding.com: Greg Dahlstrom, the VP of Logistics for BodyBuilding.com, notes that Convey makes it possible to pre-empt WISMO calls with shipping exceptions, such as ‘damaged in transit’ alerts. Dahlstrom noticed a reduction in WISMO calls by 27% when the company took action first, and an increase in Net Promoter Scores by 6.3%.
- YDesign Group: YDesign Group integrated Convey Engage to create a dashboard of real-time shipping updates with all carriers. This included the ability to resolve delivery exceptions as soon as they popped up. The improvements were immediate: NPS improved by 20% and positive delivery feedback increased by 18%.
- Grove Collaborative: Grove Collaborative had an issue: a relatively small team had to handle a lot of potential delivery exceptions. Grove Collaborative compensated by using Convey Engage to handle issues in real-time. Within six months of implementation, NPS had improved 9.4% and $65 in per-delivery savings when there were damage claims.
Avoid Using Multiple Systems To Understand Delivery Issues
WISMO calls are to be expected, as are delivery exceptions. But if you find yourself overwhelmed with WISMO calls, remember this: they’re not the cause of your headaches.
They’re symptoms that your supply chain issues and customer outreach strategies aren’t where they need to be. By taking a proactive approach like the companies above, you can reduce WISMO calls, save time and money in dealing with delivery exceptions, and keep more happy customers (boosting retail customer retention and reducing your customer acquisition cost — CAC — later on down the road).
Convey’s CRM integration allows eCommerce brands to adopt a proactive approach to solving post-purchase problems without having to swivel chair between systems. This is achieved by automating ticket resolution. Using AI and pattern recognition, your DEM platform can identify and solve delivery issues before they snowball into bigger problems.
Convey pulls data from your carrier and delivery ecosystem, using information like order details, shipment status, and proof of delivery images to quickly identify and resolve last-mile issues. You can integrate it into top customer service and CRM platforms, including:
Seamless integrations enable your customer service team to turn Convey into an all-in-one solution for solving post-purchase challenges and providing track and trace capabilities.
Suppose you’ve delivered an item to a customer, but the shipment was damaged while it was in transit. Convey will alert you as soon as the carrier registers the shipment as damaged. You can even create an automated workflow that messages customers to let them know about shipping irregularities, followed by package tracking messages to keep them in the loop every step of the way.
Get Proactive With Your Last Mile Deliveries
You don’t have to cross your fingers and hope to avoid WISMO calls. With the right software in place, you can observe delivery exceptions in real-time and contact your customer before they’re even aware there’s been an issue. If you implement these changes and reach out to your customers with their preferred method of contact, you’ll not only reduce WISMO calls, but you might reduce costs overall and improve your customer care team’s sanity.
Don’t let the customer call and ask: “Where is my order?” Give them the answer before they ask. The results might surprise you.
Want more resources on customer service best practices and tips? Check out our series, ‘The Saga Of WISMO” to learn how WISMO can wreak havoc on customer sentiment, and how to solve for it.