When a customer makes a purchase, the baton is passed to the delivery service to complete the final leg and go through with the last-mile delivery. In reality, the CX team’s race has just begun.

The post-purchase experience is the most critical stage of the entire customer journey, yet many brands are still grappling with how to get it right. In the meantime, their reputations are suffering for it. If customer teams are serious about improving the user experience, they need to embrace new tools to take ownership of delivery and returns.

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

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 it’s the act of receiving an order, rather than the product itself, that tanks brand image – and the retailer takes the blame.

The danger of overlooking the last-mile delivery

Rather than taking ownership of the last-mile delivery, brands continue to place their reputation in the hands of their chosen delivery provider. Too many rely on sporadic SMS messages about an order 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, brands need to start taking 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.

  • Is the package due to arrive later than originally scheduled? Don’t make them type in their tracking number to find out.
  • A change of plans meaning no one will be home? Help them easily rearrange delivery.
  • The product is not quite right and needs to be exchanged? 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 stand out. 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.

Maintain engaging interactions with customers through AI technology

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. A proper solution will allow your customer service teams to focus on the most complex and sensitive tasks.

It’s not just about how a brand communicates with the customers – it’s where that interaction takes place. The CX teams that will win big at the post-purchase stage are the ones that make it easiest for consumers to get in touch.

That means you should reach your 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 talk to their friends.

In an ideal world, every delivery would arrive at the right time, in the right place, and in pristine condition. This isn’t an ideal world. But that doesn’t mean delivery frustration is part and parcel of the customer experience. Brands have the ability to take ownership of the last-mile delivery, but only if they start exploring new tools and wake up to the post-purchase opportunity. First impressions matter – and so do final ones when it comes to great CX and high retention metrics.

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