Raising the customer experience bar by mapping unexpected journeys

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Package Delivery 2
Source: Morguefile.com

The opportunities for companies to provide amazing customer experiences are plentiful; the unfortunate fact is they are often overlooked. In this story, that’s not the case.

I faced a dilemma recently. I had ordered something that would be delivered while I was out of town. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue; someone would eventually be home to retrieve the package from the porch. The problem was this was a valuable item and the package might sit for hours. With the holidays approaching making porch pirates a larger threat, I thought I’d see if any options might exist to address my concerns.

Like most customers, I started my quest online to see if I could find a solution to my problem. I tried the vendor first, but they didn’t offer any options once the item had left the warehouse. Then I tried the shipper.

This particular shipper is one of the “big two” in the United States. While I have used them to ship the occasional package, I was not familiar with all the services they offered. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had a few options for my situation: delay delivery to another day of my choice for a nominal fee, hold at one of their local facilities for pickup, or have it delivered to a lockbox I could access twenty-four hours a day. I opted for the third option, figuring I could pick it up on my way home from the airport.

This ended up being a very effortless process. I arrived home from the trip package in-hand and a very satisfied customer–a happy ending! This would not have been the result had the shipper not done four things.

Identify exceptions

A delivery company’s primary job–their contribution to the customer journey–is to get packages from point A to B. Granted, this is by no means an easy task when all the nuances of moving boxes around the world are considered. Still, it’s just one part of the purchase process for the buyer in the overall journey they are on.

At some point, this shipping company had recognized their role wasn’t always a straight line. Events occur in people’s lives that can disrupt this process. A real concern is the security of a package when someone won’t be available to receive it. They had identified this and determined they could address it.

Give options

Realizing that the customer journey isn’t always direct and simple is a positive first step. From there, they could have chosen to offer one alternative to address the situation, effectively force-fitting an option that might not work for every customer. Even if slightly inconvenient, that one option would be preferable to a lost package, after all.

The shipping company instead offered three alternatives. Perhaps the customer wasn’t sure when they would be home for a delivery. Perhaps they didn’t want to incur additional charges. All possible concerns that might arise for a customer in this situation were addressed.

Automate and inform

My first inclination was to go online for a solution. Not only did I find the answer I was looking for, but each of the options could be initiated directly from the website––no need to call, email, or chat with customer service. In addition to redirecting the package, I was also able to not only subscribe to regular text message updates as to the success or failure of the redirect but also a confirmation message once the package was available for pickup in the lockbox.

Customers go online for customer service because it’s available anytime and anywhere and they can address problems at a time convenient to them. It’s no wonder why customers prefer self-service. If a customer needs to make changes to an order or a delivery due to unexpected circumstances, this shipper was keeping their experience positive by making actions as simple as a few clicks or taps and providing them with proactive updates to ensure they stay informed.

Trustworthy

I had never tried using an option to delay and redirect a package delivery. Though we live in the twenty-first century, one part of me thought it was somewhat risky to attempt to redirect a package already en-route. While the package had a tracking number and was insured, still if it were lost in transit, that would be just as inconvenient as it being stolen.

What overcame these concerns was the shipper’s excellent reputation. They are a brand respected worldwide for their package delivery and logistics solutions. More than half of the items I order online are delivered by them and over many years they have earned my respect and trust. Despite my concerns, their reputation took away the reluctance I had in taking this alternate path. I would probably have tried to arrange for someone to be at my house the originally planned day of delivery if this were not the case.

Going beyond what’s expected

In e-commerce transactions, the shipper is really just a middleman, one of the steps in the overall customer journey. For this particular shipping company, what makes its contribution unique are the steps it took to ensure customer delight and a favorable outcome despite disruptions to the standard delivery process.

I had already had many prior positive experiences with this shipper. This event further cemented them in my mind as the first choice when either having a package shipped to me or when shipping something myself. Companies like this that consider the exceptions that occur in their customers’ journey and have easily accessible remedies available are the companies customers will appreciate and reward with loyalty and positive referrals.

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