Setting Customer Expectations with Service Delivery

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
My 15 year old son is a bit of a clothes hound. He's constantly searching websites for deals on shoes, shirts, pants, etc. He's pretty good at finding bargains online. A few weeks ago, he came across a special on Blink-182 shirts as he's a big fan of the band. The offer was two shirts for $20. The price didn't include shipping, which turned out to be the bane of my son's shopping experience.

My 15 year old son is a bit of a clothes hound. He's constantly searching websites for deals on shoes, shirts, pants, etc. He's pretty good at finding bargains online. A few weeks ago, he came across a special on Blink-182 shirts as he's a big fan of the band. The offer was two shirts for $20. The price didn't include shipping, which turned out to be the bane of my son's shopping experience. The website for the company selling the shirts offers just one shipping option: Priority Mail through the U.S. Postal Service for $12.98. This disappointed my son, who said he would have preferred at least two or three shipping options offering different delivery and price ranges. This marked the first letdown in my son's customer experience.

The website for the U.S. Postal Service lists its Priority Service options as 2-to-3 day delivery. As a customer, if you're paying nearly $13 for shipping and it's represented by the online retailer as a "Priority Service," you set your own expectations for what's meant by the term "Priority Service." At the very least, my son, anxious to receive his shirts after doling out money he'd earned doing yard work, expected the shirts to arrive within the 2-to-3 day window promised by the USPS. The retailer, however, offers no such description on its website as to how long the delivery might take.

After several days of hopefulness followed by disillusionment as we tracked the painstaking path of the delivery using the USPS package tracking number, the shirts finally arrived in our mailbox. A few minutes after tearing into the package and donning one of the shirts, my son was still miffed that it took so long for the order to arrive. Had the retailer included some wording on order page of its website that deliveries can take up to a week or something along those lines, that would've gone a long way toward setting my son's expectations.

Of course, he's not alone. We've all experienced different levels of frustration awaiting the delivery of a package seems lost in transit or left wondering whether a service technician will still show up hours after missing a scheduled appointment. Different customers have different service expectations. Some customers like my son expect that "Priority Service" will, in fact, be carried out as a priority. Others in this same situation may have lower expectations, figuring that it may take a full week for a package to arrive.

Companies that are candid with customers and level-set expectations on service can gain customer trust by being forthright with them. Companies that go above and beyond and exceed customer expectations on service position themselves to strengthen repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION