“Where is my order?” (WISMO) poses not just a simple query but a critical opportunity for businesses to leverage technology for superior customer experiences. In a market where customer satisfaction is paramount, addressing WISMO through innovative solutions can significantly reduce friction and elevate brand loyalty.

In a competitive market, where customer satisfaction directly influences brand loyalty and revenue, the importance of a streamlined response to these enquiries cannot be overstated. Consumers now expect quick and transparent communication on their deliveries, meaning the impact of how retailers manage WISMO has a direct effect on a business’s bottom line. This environment leaves little room for error, making the handling of these enquiries not just a logistical necessity but a strategic imperative.

Although these queries may arise at contact centres, WISMO isn’t the virus, but rather a symptom of broader issues within the supply chain. Too often, retailers overlook the root causes of WISMO and instead focus on managing its aftermath. But recognising that a WISMO enquiry often indicates a misstep in the order or delivery process invites a shift in perspective for retailers. It suggests that the key to reducing these enquiries lies in enhancing the efficiency and transparency of the supply chain, rather than merely bolstering contact centre resources.

This approach requires businesses to delve into their delivery processes, identifying and rectifying inefficiencies that may contribute to delayed or miscommunicated orders. What retailers really need is greater visibility to ensure they have control over logistics, but also, more importantly, to ensure that they can effectively communicate with consumers when problems do arise.

The financial and reputational costs of WISMO

The direct impact of WISMO contacts building up is that incoming calls flood customer contact centres, draining resources and hitting a retailer’s balance sheet. Our experience in the industry has found that, on average, the cost for each WISMO contact rests between £4 and £6 – sometimes even more – meaning it can really add up.

It’s often the case that the first time retailers know there’s an issue with a shipment is when the customer contacts them. This puts added stress on the customer service (CS) teams to solve the problem as a result of failed delivery promises, including handing out refunds and doing laborious and avoidable admin tasks. If customers are having to reach out and can’t access delivery tracking, it’s not only your CS resources and bank balance that will suffer but your brand reputation too. This is the unseen WISMO cost that’s harder to pin down.

According to Statista, in 2021 89% of UK consumers said “the ability to track the delivery is a crucial factor when receiving parcels”. And this number may have increased since then. As soon as a customer has completed their purchase, they want to know where their parcel is and the expected timeframe for delivery. It’s equally revealing that 87% of consumers would trust a brand more if they had communicated the status of the delivery more effectively. Crucially, this all affects how likely a customer will make repeat purchases.

The root causes of WISMO, and why it’s a communication problem

There are many reasons why deliveries are delayed, go astray or, in more extreme cases, go missing: Carrier communication falters, parcels get forgotten (or even poached) and logistical complications trigger delays. Warehouse floors, for example, can get especially busy when online sales and deals such as Prime Day are taking place, and these jam-packed floors can lead to internal picking and packing snags, having the subsequent effect of carriers missing their departure times.

Mishaps are part and parcel of the job; no matter how good a process is, with so many moving parts, they can happen. But the key point is that issues with WISMO don’t begin at contact centres. By this point, the damage has been done – the customer has already had to reach out and inform the brand there’s a problem with their delivery before they even know about it. The retailer can do everything it can to alleviate the situation, but it will still leave a slightly bad taste in the mouths of their customers (not to mention the added costs and time spent resolving the enquiry).

So, rather than see WISMO as a CS resource problem, brands should approach it from a delivery communication standpoint. If CS teams are blindfolded to delivery performance insights, they have no means to manage any issues proactively, and keep customers in the loop of any delays or issues. However, with proactive communication, they can avoid WISMO contacts and ease the overall burden on contact centres.

How tech can ease the burden

Consumer expectations have rapidly changed in the last few years. Now, not receiving timely delivery updates is more of an exception than the norm, even when deliveries go perfectly to plan. A seamless delivery experience means seamless communication, with customers able to track their delivery from ‘dispatched’ to ‘delivered’. But when delivery mishaps do happen, proactive comms are crucial. But how can brands efficiently and proactively spot issues and communicate them to their customers?

In short, by using post-purchase tracking software. By integrating an interactive delivery management dashboard into your operations, agents can access a range of real-time multi-parcel tracking insights from one location. This includes the shipment status of deliveries, i.e., ‘damaged’ or ‘delayed’, and any supporting information, such as geographical or weather events affecting deliveries. This enables CS agents to proactively resolve escalations and reach out to customers, taking control of the situation to apologise and explain how they will rectify the situation. The dashboard creates overall transparency in the delivery journey and efficiency for contact centres in dealing with requests, and customers in accessing tracking information.

It also directly supports carrier ops teams. They can use this dashboard to monitor carrier trends, analyse performance, such as how many deliveries are arriving on time, and take steps to reduce failures and improve delivery success rates. This is made possible through having a single source of insight for all delivery statuses.

Boosting the bottom line

Customers expect delivery tracking, and brands who fail to proactively communicate delivery issues will end up feeling the seen and unseen costs of WISMO. Technology has the power to give retailers total transparency and efficiency over their delivery process. A delivery dashboard helps brands spot and communicate delivery issues to customers before they become WISMO contacts.

We’ve seen a major organisation, through the use of post-purchase technology, reduce its WISMO contacts by a massive 63%. And not only can such a reduction lead to improved customer satisfaction metrics, it also improves CS agent satisfaction, efficiency and boosts the bottom line.

If brands can address the root causes of WISMO rather than its aftermath, they can fight the virus head-on instead of relieving its symptoms.