[Updated post from March 2, 2021]
E-commerce is accessible and convenient – but it can also be stressful. Customers invest a lot of time and energy into the online shopping journey, but once they hit ‘purchase’ all consumers can do is wait.
Imagine you are a customer who has just placed an online order. You’ve got an order confirmation email and are eagerly anticipating a package arriving on your doorstep. But as the days go by, you receive no further updates from the brand with shipping or delivery dates. Feeling concerned, you decide to reach out to the brand for an update – along with hundreds of other customers.
This is how WISMO requests can very quickly overwhelm a brand’s customer support capabilities, resulting in slow response times and difficulty building customer loyalty. But by staying in constant communication with customers and providing them with tools to monitor their orders, e-commerce businesses can reduce WISMO activity and provide a better customer experience.
‘WISMO’ is an acronym for ‘Where Is My Order?’ and refers to the most common inquiry shoppers make after placing an online order. WISMO inquiries typically ask for the following information:
Today’s online shoppers demand regular and proactive updates about the shipping process. If customers don’t receive information about order status and delivery timeframes after placing an order, this causes inbound customer inquiries to skyrocket and place considerable pressure on customer service teams.
Unlike brick and mortar shopping, online shoppers don’t get the immediate gratification of buying a product and taking it home with them. They have to rely on the brand to fulfill the order, ship it, and deliver it successfully to their doorstep. This process often creates a sense of unease and anxiety, as customers have no visibility over what takes place after they hit ‘purchase’.
In e-commerce, customer satisfaction is dependent upon the shopping journey being as seamless as possible. But having to make WISMO requests adds a major source of friction to the customer experience, which is a problem for customer retention.
If customer service agents don’t make a deliberate effort to give notify customers of shipping status updates or delivery dates, this causes online customers to worry about whether they’re going to receive their purchase as promised – and can even drive them to cancel orders and seek alternatives elsewhere.
By becoming a better communicator, your brand to reduce the number of WISMO calls and requests it receives. In turn, this will improve customer satisfaction and the post-purchase experience – meaning higher levels of brand loyalty.
Customer satisfaction is closely linked to the quality of customer care. If shoppers feel supported and listened to throughout the shopping journey, this helps to build brand loyalty and trust as they move closer to receiving their purchase.
So, if e-commerce businesses abandon their customer service strategy once a sale has taken place, anxious customers are going to feel neglected – and are unlikely to shop with you again. When 55% of US consumers say that just one negative experience would stop them from shopping with a brand again, poor WISMO management means sacrificing a lot of future business.
While it can be tempting to close out customer interactions in favor of focusing on acquiring new customers, this approach can backfire if unhappy customers feel driven to leave negative reviews or testimonials about your business.
If your business is consistently handling a high volume of WISMO requests, this impacts the effectiveness of your customer service team. Answering an endless number of WISMO queries means there is less time for your team to dedicate to more complex support issues, such as defective products or incorrect orders.
If response times slow down due to requests piling up, this affects the quality of the customer support you provide and may lead to complaints from shoppers who are waiting for resolutions. Unless you can reduce WISMO requests and calls at the source, your business will have to keep hiring more personnel for their customer care centers, which is costly and inefficient.
The post-purchase stage is full of meaningful touchpoints with your customer that can be leveraged to build a relationship that leads to future purchases. From that initial order confirmation email to the point of delivery, regularly touching base about their order provides the perfect premise to share other valuable information. Product recommendations, help guides, and asking for customer feedback on the shopping experience all help to enhance the post-purchase experience.
Failing to address WISMO anxieties after purchases not only affects customer service performance but also robs your brand of opportunities to stay in communication with your customer. Failing to utilize touchpoints like shipping notifications or confirmed delivery dates means less opportunity to build a rapport with customers, creating a lackluster post-purchase experience.
While this may not work for every type of WISMO query, a comprehensive FAQ section that covers the most common questions surrounding shipping and delivery is one of the best ways to reduce repetitive WISMO requests.
If customers have a question, the FAQ section of an e-commerce website will likely be their first port of call before reaching out to a customer services team. The majority of consumers prefer to try and solve problems using self-service methods. According to the 2022 Digital First Customer Experience Report, 81% of consumers say they want more self-service options, yet only 15% of consumers are satisfied with the tools available to them.
By building out a robust post-purchase section on your FAQ page, you can resolve the majority of WISMO requests before they are escalated to customer support.
Offering your customers’ package tracking in real-time means they can reassure themselves that their delivery is on its way and measure its progress – without WISMO. This takes a huge amount of pressure off your customer care team, as customers no longer need to reach out to them for shipment status updates. All they need to do is click the link in their confirmation email to access the order status page to receive the most recent update.
Self-service tracking has become extremely popular as consumers seek more regular shipping updates. Looking to an OptimoRoute survey, 77% of shoppers report checking real-time tracking at least once while awaiting delivery, while nearly two-thirds say that real-time tracking helps to build brand loyalty.
A branded tracking page offers an additional layer of reassurance for customers by ensuring consistency across different touchpoints of the shopping experience. Directing customers off-site to an external real-time tracking page can cause security concerns, especially if it’s a third-party tracking solution they aren’t familiar with. Branded tracking pages also offer additional features that help to drive future purchases, such as product recommendations, current promotions, and links to important resources like return policies.
The saying ‘no news is good news’ definitely doesn’t apply when customers are waiting for online orders.
When an order is placed, consumers have little insight into what happens during the fulfillment process. If they don’t know that their order has been received or when it’s being shipped, this is a major source of anxiety that leads to WISMO requests.
Remember that your business is the sole source of information for your customers in the post-purchase experience. So, the only way they’re going to know their order status is if you make the effort to tell them.
To make the post-purchase experience as smooth as possible, you should offer updates at the following points:
You have the option to give your customers these updates via email or SMS. For businesses using the Whiplash platform, you can update your Shopify store customers automatically with regular status updates via our Shopify integration.
Live chat is a great tool to provide customers with immediate responses that echo having a conversation with a support person, but without the lengthy wait times that are common to email support tickets. According to Comm100, 81% of customers are satisfied with their live chat experience, compared to just 61% of email users and 44% of phone users.
This makes live chat a fantastic tool to have in your arsenal when it comes to reducing WISMO calls or emails. Chatbots can be trained to answer any common queries that your customer service team receives. Questions such as “How long will it take for my order to arrive?” or “How can I check my order status?” tend to have standard answers that customer service personnel are inputting over and over into email responses, which makes them very suitable for chatbots.
The foundation for WISMO queries is set up even before an online order is placed. If shipping timeframes are not transparently disclosed to customers, customer expectations for the delivery process may be at odds with reality.
If customers are expecting earlier delivery than the business can achieve, a brand is likely to experience a higher number of WISMO calls or requests asking why their order hasn’t arrived yet. Moreover, surprise delivery costs and timeframes are the biggest reason for cart abandonment, with 74% of consumers having done so according to a study by Barilliance.
Disclosing your shipping timeframes on product pages and your FAQ section helps consumers to make an informed purchasing decision based on realistic delivery dates, rather than having customer expectations dashed when their order arrives later than expected.
The so-called ‘last-mile’ of delivery is the most challenging stage of fulfillment for retailers and 3PLs. Transfers to local couriers, more idling, and less efficiency all add up to the last mile not only being expensive but also responsible for a large share of late or failed deliveries.
There’s nothing more likely to cause anxiety and frustration in e-commerce than late delivery. While circumstances can happen that are beyond your control, such as adverse weather events or carrier-related issues, many last-mile delivery efficiencies are caused by poor planning and management. Focusing on eliminating last-mile delivery issues, will go a long way to reducing WISMO queries.
Route optimization. Millions of miles are lost every year through trucks taking indirect delivery routes to customers’ homes, which can lengthen delivery times significantly. Technologies such as route planning and GPS enable drivers to optimize scheduling and shave time off delivery dates.
Multi-node fulfillment. Instead of fulfilling orders from a single warehouse, consider using a network of facilities that can allocate orders according to their proximity to the end customer. This cuts down last-mile transportation time significantly.
Returns might appear to have little to do with the delivery experience, but it’s deeply intertwined in the context of WISMO management. After asking when their order is going to arrive, a customer’s next question is likely to be “what happens if it isn’t right?”
Returns can be a major hassle, so reassurance about this process will go a long way toward easing customer anxiety. Best of all, this encourages them to make that initial purchase, with 49% of consumers saying that they actively check a retailer’s return policy before purchasing.
So, rather than waiting until a customer acquires about the returns process, you can be proactive by putting your return policy in the footer of your website and your FAQ section – thereby alleviating WISMO before it starts.
Delivery is one of the most important touchpoints in the e-commerce customer journey, and online retailers must get it right if they want to offer a positive customer experience. A lack of proactive updates or a lack of tools to monitor shipping and delivery cause anxiety for customers, resulting in WISMO requests overwhelming retailers’ customer service teams.
When customers feel informed and supported during the post-purchase experience, WISMO inquiry volumes become much more manageable and free up your customer service team to focus on more complex inquiries. Moreover, proactive WISMO management helps to increase customer satisfaction by demonstrating that your brand is invested in creating a positive delivery experience. This means a higher likelihood of repeat purchases and more support for your brand as it grows.