The Holiday Delivery Debacle: How Do You Recover Customers’ Trust When Your Entire Ecosystem Has Just Failed Them?


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Gift delivery issues plagued last-minute online shoppers this holiday season (and some not-so-last-minute shoppers). As Ronni Marshak explains, the 2013 holiday season created a perfect storm of anomalies that blew apart even the best designed fulfillment and delivery systems.

Design for Screw-Ups. I never cease to be amazed when our business processes and well-designed systems can’t adapt to “sh*t happens.” In my experience as both a customer experience designer and a business and consumer customer, stuff ALWAYS happens. Things ALWAYS go wrong. So, the first lesson to be learned from debacles, like hundreds of thousands of Christmas gifts not arriving in time for Christmas, is this: Why don’t we design for exceptions?? Since exceptions ARE the norm, why do we keep trying to design smooth-flowing processes that rely on everything working within spec? Why don’t we design systems that are based on uncertainty? Why can’t we make our processes more adaptive and empower our people to be more creative and resilient? While it’s true that every company puts in place belt and suspender back-up plans and systems for high-volume periods, it’s also true that we’re still relying largely on straight through processing with exception handling. What if we changed our paradigm and decided that everything is a potential exception? Would we design different systems and processes? I’m sure they would be more loosely-coupled and more resilient than the ones we’re using today.

Design Within and Across Ecosystems. I’m sure that logistics experts design holistically. They take everything into account: weather, seasonality, advertising and promotions, supply chain logjams, and irrational customer expectations. But how many designers are thinking in terms of customer scenario-based ecosystems and the cumulative impact when Amazon’s ecosystem + Target’s ecosystem + Wal-Mart’s ecosystem + lots of little mom and pop shops selling online are all combined to deliver a single customer scenario: getting the right gifts to the right people on time? If Santa can do it, why can’t we?

Recover Gracefully. Customers are actually quite forgiving, particularly when weather and logistics—things beyond your control—are involved. But you need to make amends proactively, with elegance and grace in order to assuage angry customers. Ronni Marshak offers some good tips in her article—things you can do throughout the year, whenever the unexpected happens. (And it happens a lot!)

Recovering from the Crisis of Missed Holiday Deliveries
How Well Are Etailers and Shippers Dealing with Customers’ Anger?
By Ronni T. Marshak, EVP and Senior Consultant, January 10, 2014

(Read the short sample and download the full article in PDF.)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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