The last mile of home delivery is the final frontier for customer experience. When shopping online, the customer’s interaction with a retailer doesn’t end with the push of the purchase button. It ends when the product is either delivered to their door or successfully exchanged or returned.
With COVID-19 accelerating e-commerce sales, customers have come to expect more when shopping online. A positive experience can boost customer loyalty and growth, as shoppers reward great experiences with repeat purchases and referrals. A negative experience can threaten future sales and cause serious damage to brand reputation.
The evidence is there for anyone to see. We analysed 3,000 one-star Trustpilot reviews across 150 major UK retailers in our latest research. More than half (55%) of customer complaints were attributed to issues with the post-purchase experience. Nearly 40% of one-star reviews mentioned issues with delivery, while a further 15% referred to the returns process as a contributing factor.
Orders not arriving was the most commonly cited problem with deliveries, accounting for nearly half (48%) of all reviews that mentioned delivery. Late delivery (17%) was the second most common complaint. Post-purchase problems were most common amongst retailers in the fashion (68%), sports & leisure (51%), and specialist (49%) categories. Fashion (28%) and sports & leisure (17%) also had the most mentions of returns in their reviews.
Of course, in an ideal world, every delivery would arrive in mint condition, to the right location and at the precise time expected. But logistics is an extremely complex business and sometimes things will go wrong.
So customer communication has a crucial role to play in managing customers’ expectations and leaving them with a good impression of your brand when there are issues to resolve. But we found that in more than one in every four reviews, the customer wasn’t satisfied with the time taken for customer services to respond.
As retailers continue to rely on online sales with lockdown restrictions likely to continue through the January sales period and beyond, we believe these insights ultimately highlight a huge opportunity to turn the post-purchase experience into a source of commercial and competitive advantage.
We know from our work with our customers that effective, proactive communication through the digital channels they use most (like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) has a crucial role to play in last-mile delivery. Here are three steps all retailers should be taking to put effective post-purchase communication in place for 2021:
- Don’t just leave it to your logistics partners. Your customer should continue to receive updates from you directly after they receive their order confirmation rather than rely on the SMS or web portal of the carrier. This is even more important in the current circumstances, with many people receiving multiple orders on the same day.
- Be proactive. A delivery time is a promise – customers will be more forgiving if you alert them to any changes to their order or arrival time so there are no unwelcome surprises and allow them to rearrange timings to make their lives easier.
- Use automation to support post-purchase problem solving. Many common issues, particularly around WISMOs (where is my order?), can be resolved without the need for customer service centers and manual input. Automating more customer conversations frees up customer service teams to focus on the most complex and sensitive tickets.
Customers aren’t just ordering more of their shopping online, they are better informed and have more questions than ever. Whatever happens this year, investing in a post-purchase experience that delights customers has never been more valuable – not just to brand reputation but to a retailer’s bottom line.
Ed Hodges is CEO of HelloDone
You can read HelloDone’s ‘Delivering the brand’ report in full at: https://www.hellodone.ai/trustpilot-report