The Saga of WISMO: Late Peak Season Shipments Plague Customer Care

Cyber Weekend Prep

On the week before Thanksgiving, Carrie, the Head of Customer Care at Sally’s Shoe Superstore, climbs up onto a chair and starts clapping to call the attention of her team. When a crowd of about sixty — her full team of customer care representatives — forms around her, she asks, “Who here has experienced a Cyber Weekend at Sally’s Shoes?”

Ten hands fly up.

Carrie continues, “Imagine the joy a customer feels when buying a pair of shoes. Perhaps she’s planning her outfits for her holiday parties. Or maybe she’s imagining a loved one unwrapping a Sally’s Shoes box on Christmas morning.  

You know this already, but this team can show our customers that they are our priority — your ability to listen to their concerns or questions, to respond in a thoughtful way, and to be helpful has a huge impact on how our customers view our brand. We want to make sure that our customers — our supporters — have the best experience possible.”

Over the next week, each of your managers will deliver a list of responses to frequently asked questions like, “Where is my order?” and offer you an hour-long crash course. We’re also bringing in twenty temporary workers on Cyber Monday to help keep your call and social media queues low throughout the holidays!”

Carrie steps down from the chair, showing confidence in her preparation for the week, but feeling internally stressed for the big day. She spent the past month finding additional support for her team and making sure that they would have scripts for as many customer questions as possible.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a green creature hanging from one of the ceiling pipes. She brushes it off, writes down a reminder to call the building exterminator later, and her thoughts flicker to her next stress — roasting a turkey with her in-laws.

The Mad Rush of Black Friday

Black Friday comes and goes along with the biggest series of sales that Sally’s Shoe Superstore has ever seen. On 5 AM on Friday morning, Carrie’s alarm clock goes off, and she rushes out the door. Phones ring off the hook all day with questions about sale items and doorbusters, and her scripts prove to be effective… so far, at least.

When Carrie walks into her office on Monday, she sees a mass of green WISMOs jumping up and down, cackling, and shredding her extra scripts. She runs over to stop the shredder and stomps on as many WISMOs as she can. In the next few minutes, one of her employees runs into her office and says, “Carrie, we keep getting calls that the site is crashing! People are tweeting about it, too — @GreenMonster says,  ”@SallysSuperShoes First ur site crashes and then u say u can’t get my order in until after Xmas? Did my package fall out of the truck or something? Never ordering again! ”

 

Carrie looks at WISMO to blame it, but it only hisses back at her. As Carrie coordinates with the Director of eCommerce on the scale of the outage and creates new scripts for her team, half of her day goes by. When she’s finished communicating proper responses for her team, she checks the queues for each employee — call wait times per care representative were fifty minutes due to the spike in calls from earlier in the day and long phone calls with carriers.

As she looks up to the ceiling of her room, she watches as twenty WISMOs use the rafters as monkey bars.

Christmas is Ruined!

Throughout the week, Carrie continues to make the rounds with her employees, asking them to note down common reasons for calling in the Google Doc, along with how long they spend on each customer call. It took her hours to set it up, and she’s excited dive through most of the information in one place this year. She starts going through the document when she receives an email from her CEO.


To: Diana@sallysshoes.com, larry@sallysshoes.com, carrie@sallysshoes.com

From: Sally.Henderson@sallysshoes.com

Subject Line: ?

My neighbor ordered from the site on Black Friday. Her Estimated Delivery Date has changed 3 times, and now it says that she’s supposed to get it on Dec. 27!

Didn’t we say the promise date was going to be Dec. 4th in our campaign? This is a present for her daughter!

She’s a close friend and a Super Platinum VIP! Fix this.


“Great!” she says, “Now my entire day is derailed.” Determined to find out what is going on with the VIP shopper’s package, she calls the Director of eCommerce again. After getting the shopper’s information, Carrie calls the VIP shopper personally, and she spends the rest of her day combing through her Google Document to see if any other customers have similar issues.

“If Sally’s Shoes misses the estimated delivery date, Christmas will be ruined! You better do something, or I won’t be shopping with you again.”

In the two days that it takes Carrie to comb through her spreadsheet, her office and the Customer Care room are both now filled to the brim with WISMOs. Many WISMOs heckle the representatives as they do their jobs, making them feel even more nervous. Carrie swears she sees WISMOs jumping out of the phones every time a phone hook is picked up. During the last and worst call of the night, a customer is pleading with Carrie’s newest employee to just get her delivery on time. “If Sally’s Shoes misses the estimated delivery date, Christmas will be ruined! You better do something, or I won’t be shopping with you again.” At this point, the WISMOs crowd around Carrie and her employee, chasing them out of the room.

The next day, Carrie comes in with drooping eyelids — angry WISMO nightmares caused her to have a night of restless sleep. Still, Carrie is determined to power through the day. According to her spreadsheet, at least thirty customers had called because their tracking pages said their packages are in Chicago — their estimated delivery dates keep changing, similar to the VIP shopper. She looks up in victory — was this mystery finally solved?

Carrie rushes to the office of Larry, the Logistics Manager, and eager to show him her proof, she almost takes down the door. She says, “My team just dealt with three hundred calls with customers saying their packages are stuck in Chicago. What’s going on? I’m being blamed for ruining Christmas.”

What’s going on? I’m being blamed for ruining Christmas.

Oddly, Larry agrees with her. “You’re telling me!” he says. “I just spent another three hours on the phone with our carrier facility in Chicago, and we still don’t know what happened. Christmas will be ruined if no one gets their presents on time! We need to find the answers — now.”

Larry and Carrie form a plan: For the next week, Larry and Carrie would gather all of the data they could about the affected shipments in Chicago. They are determined to make the shipments move before Green Monday.

Customer Care’s Best Opportunity for a Positive Touchpoint

Carrie does her best to get her team ready for Black Friday. She gets scripts ready for her team and even hires extra holiday workers to help her team get through the busiest time of the year. Her emphasis on the call as an important consumer touchpoint is important, especially when customers ask about their deliveries. Nearly 84% of shoppers will not shop with a brand after just one poor delivery experience.

It means we need people who have the same passion for their customer, and passion for the brand.

Companies such as Bonobos say that one out of every five customers reach out about an order, and it’s a moment to provide a positive touchpoint and bring the customer front and center. According to CEO, Mickey Onvural, “It means we need people who have the same passion for their customer, and passion for the brand and bring that level of joy and energy to the workplace every single day and courage.”

Lack of Visibility Hinders Customer Care’s Ability to Solve Shipping Issues

Still, when issues begin to pile up during the busy holiday season, Carrie feels vastly underprepared. Instead of relying on her scripts, she is forced to essentially become a first responder for major delivery issues that come up, making her feel like she’s jumping from fire to fire. In this scenario, Carrie and her team rely on a spreadsheet to track customer complaints. She spends hours developing a spreadsheet to track customer complaints, and then takes days to dive through the data when an major shipping issue comes up.  

Customer care is forced to essentially become a first responder for major delivery issues that come up, making her feel like she’s jumping from fire to fire.

Inefficient support tools cause representatives to spend extra time looking up each customer’s order on a spreadsheet, and in the case of a mystery estimated delivery date change, they also may spend hours on the phone with carriers, attempting to escalate and resolve each issue one-by-one. Meanwhile, call queue times pile up for customers, who increasingly become more impatient with every added minute of hold time. 

Lack of Visibility Hinders Customer Care's Ability to Solve Shipping Issues

Instead, with the right tools and processes in place, everyone in customer care, including Carrie, should have the ability to quickly look up orders and delivery issues within seconds, and then have an easy path to working with a carrier. Customer service reps should no longer have to sit through phone trees or sit on hold for twenty minutes just so they can answer a WISMO call or track a shipment.

With so many different final mile variables, getting shipments back on track quickly is key so that it doesn’t increase customer care queues  — or worse, impact customers’ experiences. Collaborating with carriers and customer service teams to create workflow priorities on actionable exceptions and cases — within the same CRM — can help all teams resolve issues quickly and reduce customer call times. 

Stomp Out WISMO for Good: Own Up to Delivery Mishaps

Customers expect brands to take responsibility of their products from cart to door, but also tend to be understanding — and even forgiving — when a brand shows they own up to issues. 88% of shoppers expect a response from the brand in the case of a missed estimated delivery date.

If for some reason, retailers are unable to meet their commitments, consumers expect the retailer to seek a resolution—or at a very minimum, communicate the mishap if for no other reason than to show a dedication to retaining the customer’s business. Companies such as Grove Collaborative are even able to increase customer satisfaction by identifying damaged shipments before they reach the customer, sending the customer an alert, and sending them a new shipment.

Retailers and brands that want to thrive in this era cannot leave the critical last mile — the delivery experience — to chance. As we see in Carrie’s experience, investments in people, processes and tools to positively impact customer deliveries should be top of mind for any leader who wants to put customers front and center.

Christina Singh Portrait
About the Author

Christina Singh

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Christina promptly packed her bags and moved far west to the Lone Star State. In Austin, she built and managed reputations for small business owners through social media, and found a passion for media, targeting, and content strategy. As a Content Marketing Manager, Christina helps to drive demand generation for Convey through content, developing content strategy and creating outbound marketing materials for its potential customers. Christina Singh on LinkedIn