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Customers never forget the 'last mile'

27th Apr 2021
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Every year, billions of pounds are poured into the customer experience. But the most critical stage of the customer journey is routinely forgotten. Product delivery is able to make or break a brand’s reputation but most companies are still not connecting the dots. If businesses want to see their customer base expand, then they need to start investing in post purchase.

Your products can be perfect in every way but if deliveries are delayed, or something happens with the courier, then it impacts the entire customer experience.

If you’re a seller, it doesn’t matter that you’ve outsourced this part of the process to a different company. If a customer is buying your product then they’ll hold you responsible for every aspect of their interaction with it.

This isn’t just conjecture; the stats bear it out. According to our latest research, which analysed 3,000 one-star reviews on Trustpilot, more than half (55%) of customer complaints were attributed to frustrations with the post-purchase experience.

Whether it was an issue with delivery (40%) or a messy returns process (15%), these figures show that it’s the act of receiving an order, rather than the product itself, that tanks brand perception time and again…and it’s the retailer that takes the blame.

Rather than taking ownership of the ‘last mile’, brands continue to place their reputation in the hands of their chosen delivery provider. Too many rely on sporadic SMS messages or access to their carrier’s web portal to keep a customer happy.

The huge investment that retailers make in the customer journey up until the point of purchase is undermined if they simply abandon shoppers after they hit the buy button.

If companies want to end this self-sabotage and make a real difference to their customer retention and lifetime value measures, they need to take back control. Practically, this means opening up new channels of communication with customers to keep them informed and give them a real feeling of control throughout the delivery and returns process.

Package due to arrive later than originally scheduled? Don’t make them type in their tracking number to find out. A change of plans means no one will be home? Help them easily rearrange delivery. Product not quite right or an exchange is needed? Talk them through the return step by step and let them know when they’ll get a new item.

Proactively communicating with your customers is what will set your customer experience apart. But this level of communication isn’t achievable with legacy systems. Instead, CX teams need to look beyond their existing tools and embrace new technology that puts them in the pocket of their customers.

AI technology is one way of maintaining close, personal contact with your audience – at scale. New generation natural language processing tools enable you, at last, to have high quality, engaging interactions with customers and instantly solve their questions without involving vast teams and resources.

Many common issues, including WISMO (Where Is My Order?) queries, can be resolved through AI technology - providing it’s sophisticated and properly integrates with your own systems - leaving your customer service teams free to focus on the most complex, sensitive tasks.

It’s not just how a brand communicates with its customers, it’s where that communication takes place. The CX teams that will win big are the ones that make it easiest for consumers to get in touch.

That means reaching customers through the most convenient communication channels: their favourite messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Rather than wrestling with branded or carrier-specific apps and services, they can contact you in the place they do their friends.

If brands want to strengthen customer loyalty and retention figures, they need to stop forgetting the post-purchase experience. ‘Last mile’ impressions linger. And customers are judging brands on their ability to make the delivery process as seamless as the buying stage.

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