8 tips for outstanding customer experience during a crisis

Whilst some industries are seeing a dent in overall sales due to closure of non-essential high street stores, we’re seeing an overall increase in purchases made online, particularly from age groups who traditionally purchased from store. Indeed, IMRG reported this week that multichannel retailers have seen a 68% year-on-year sales increase and total market sales have increased 38% year-on-year.

One particular sector that has seen a reduction in sales is clothing, which did recover somewhat last week following a 40% year-on-year sales reduction at the end of March (Source: IMRG), increasing to around -8% year-on-year last week. These retailers are seeing customers returning to their online stores, boosted for many by a shift to selling work from home attire, loungewear and sportswear.

So whether sales are increasing by 150% like the gifting industry or decreasing by 8% like fashion (Source: IMRG), what should retailers be focusing on right now? Customer experience of course! A happy customer is likely to return to your store and purchase from you again – a much cheaper way to generate revenue than targeting new business. In addition, a happy customer is also more likely to speak to their friends about your business and ‘refer’ you. Indeed, Mention Me found that in the last three weeks customer referral share and purchase rates have increased steadily.

Seamless shipping communication can set you apart

The retailers that will come out of this crisis most successful are those who take a moment to review their customer journey and ensure it is seamless and enjoyable. It is these retailers that will be rewarded with turning new customers into loyal ones.

For most online stores, delivery times are longer than usual due to warehouse social distancing reducing fulfilment rates. In addition, carriers are having to take longer to deliver as their sorting hubs must also respect sanctions to keep staff safe. Luckily, customers are aware of this and understanding of current challenges. However, it is absolutely essential that retailers still keep their customers fully informed about the shipping status.

This is especially true if you are delivering essential goods. Customers will be extra concerned about when their parcel will arrive and are therefore more likely to contact you about delays if they’re not communicated.

It is therefore extremely important that retailers are providing updates to their customers about the status of their order during shipping. A brief message in the shipping messages can help keep customers in the know and will reduce WISMO (where is my order?) enquiries.

Retailers should include information about potential delays in their shipping messages to avoid an influx of customer service enquiries.

8 tips for outstanding customer service during a crisis

So how can you ensure your customers receive a good experience during the Coronavirus crisis? Follow our 8 tips below:

  1. Inform your customers before shipping if their order is missing any items.
  2. For items out of stock, offer alternatives at checkout so the customer can still receive their desired goods.
  3. Pre-empt any delays and proactively inform the customer about them to avoid frustration and an influx of WISMO customer enquiries.
  4. Reassure your customers: provide details about how you are protecting your staff and customers from the virus so they feel safe receiving goods.
  5. If the package is delayed en route, inform the customer proactively about this and provide regular updates on its whereabouts.
  6. Contactless delivery is now a requirement. Customers can no longer sign for their parcels and many opt for the carrier to leave it in a safe place now. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to communicate successful delivery via email or SMS.
  7. Make your customers feel inspired. If they order skin products for example, send them a tutorial on how to use them.
  8. Offer a mix of informative and entertaining content. Include social content in shipping communication and encourage social sharing to create a community with your customers.

Anton Eder, Founder & COO of parcelLab , is confident that in the crisis, agile and digital-focused retailers will be rewarded:

If you follow these simple rules, you will not only ensure your customers having a relaxing shopping experience with you, but also you will benefit in the short and long-term from more sales, fewer WISMO calls and happier customers.

Do you want to create outstanding customer experiences during the crisis and afterwards? Get in touch to find out how parcelLab can help your business succeed.

About the Author: Katharine
Katharine is Head of Marketing Communications - EMEA. An avid shopper, Katharine is passionate about helping retailers understand the importance of efficient post-purchase communications. When she isn’t looking for the latest trends for our blog, Katharine loves discovering new restaurants in London.