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How to fix one star reviews: the problem with despatch


28 September 2017

Customers don’t know what happens in a warehouse. When they place an order online, they have no idea whether they’re low staffed that day, if there’s been a system outage, or whether the staff have to sort through a particularly large number of orders.   

They don’t know because, really, they shouldn’t. They’ve ordered something online; they just want the thing that they ordered to show up in the right place at the right time. And for consumers expecting products like household goods, clothing and electronics, that ‘right time’ translates to ‘really soon’.

Which means that the pressure is piling up on everyone in the warehouse to perform better than ever. But mistakes happen. And when they do, irritated customers might well log onto Trustpilot, hit the 1 star and vent.

This is the first in a series of blog posts that’s going to look at how a lot of these 1 star reviews could have been avoided by having more efficient warehouses. Here’s one consumer who feels like he’s been let down by a breakdown in the warehousing process.

The problem

The consumer’s got a festival to go to and he’s made last minute preparations to look good. Probably knowing he’s cutting it a bit fine, he’s been tracking that order like a hawk.

But it might not make it in time. It’s just sat there in the warehouse, waiting for someone to come and collect it.

The solution

So why is his package just sat there? Here’s a brief rundown of what’s probably happened:

  • When his order was placed, it entered a workflow. When it was picked and all the shipping documents were printed, it entered the next stage of the workflow...

  • He was sent a tracking link. He could see that his order was ready to be sent out and probably relaxed knowing that his Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sunglasses were going to reach him in time for the festival....

  • But just because it was ready to be despatched, doesn’t mean that the package was going to be picked up any time soon. The retailer he’s shopped with may only have specific carrier pickup days, meaning that there wouldn’t have been any tracking updates until one of those days came around.

  • So the customer sat at home, expecting the last stage of the warehousing process to be quick and easy. He had no idea that the process is actually working as planned, he was just expected to wait. And he used that wait to write a 1 star review.

Clearly there’s a gap here between expectation and reality. The retailer, rightly trying to do the right thing by automating their processes while increasing transparency, has contributed to his anxiety. The tracking link reminds him exactly where his package is (sat in the warehouse), and where it isn’t (in his backpack ready for a good weekend) every time he checks it.

The best solution to this problem is to increase the number of carrier pickup days. This festival-goer won’t be the company’s only customer sat at home refreshing his browser to check for updates. If they only send out orders on certain days, it’s inevitable that a fair number of shoppers are going to have to wait. This isn’t the consumer’s fault; the burden of responsibility to beat consumer impatience lies at the door of the retailer.

Making the right decision

Introducing more carrier pickup days will involve an increased outlay, but it could prove to be a worthwhile investment. We’re working in an age where the customer experience is more valued and valuable than ever. Companies need to make sure they’re doing enough to champion it in order to bridge the thin line between 1 star and 5 star reviews.

This fix could do just that, but it’s important to strike the right balance. Any investment needs to make sense based on a company’s size, the needs of its consumers and the ROI. It’s difficult to be all things to all people all the time; but companies like the one in this example should work out if they could be doing more.