“WISMO?” the question weighing on e-tailer customer service departments

WISMO is an acronym for “Where IS My Order?” This is the question most frequently asked of e-commerce website customer service departments. How can you avoid your customers asking it?

Ordering online has never been so easy. All e-commerce websites, even the small ones, have made considerable efforts to streamline the online purchasing process, and make it secure On the other hand, what happens after the order has been placed is far from delivering the same customer satisfaction. In the absence of clear and reliable information on delivery timescales and procedures, customers become concerned or lose patience, and contact customer service departments with this question: “Where is my order?” – or a variant thereof:

  • When am I going to receive my order?
  • Why have I not received my order? 
  • Can you tell me where my order is?
  • Why has my parcel not yet been delivered?
  • Etc.

The real cost of WISMO requests

Whether by email or telephone, these “WISMO” questions represent on average a third of all requests handled by e-commerce website customer service departments, with peaks of 70% or even 80% during peak periods such as the festive season or when the sales are on. These requests are problematic for two reasons:

  • Dealing with them has a high direct cost because – at a minimum – it ties down one third of customer service resources at the very moment when most e-tailers are trying to transition their customer service department from being a “cost center” to a “profit center”.
  • Their indirect cost is equally high. The very fact that customers are prompted to ask this question – and therefore to ask it of the customer service department – is perceived as a decline in the customer experience, causing a sense of dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction is inevitably compounded by the customer service agents’ difficulty or inability to respond quickly and accurately to this category of question.

Consequently, disappointed consumers are even more inclined to turn to recognized e-tailers as being the most effective in managing the post order placement process, first and foremost Amazon. Otherwise expressed, if you are an e-tailer, the way in which you manage WISMO queries has a significant impact on your turnover and profitability.

How do you reduce the number of WISMO queries?

The most reliable way of limiting the number of WISMO queries is to ensure your customers do not need to ask this question. You will object that this is easier said than done – incorrectly, because there are various eminently accessible solutions, some of which are simply common sense.

1 – Be honest with your customers – everyone knows that the stated delivery timescale is a very important factor in the e-consumer’s purchase decision. Despite the “ever faster” rule seemingly becoming all pervasive throughout the e-commerce arena, there is nothing to be gained in publicizing timescales on your website that you know you cannot honor. The only outcome of this misleading practice is to inflate the number of WISMO queries and to expose your call center operatives to justifiably exasperated customers.

On the contrary, be transparent about the availability of the products you are offering and about your true delivery timescales.

  • By clearly displaying this information in your product descriptions, you are enabling customers to make informed decisions when placing their orders. 
  • All e-commerce website management systems enable the automatic sending of a confirmation email. By systematically repeating the scheduled delivery date in these emails, you are letting your customers know that it is pointless contacting you before this date to enquire about their order status.

>> Should you go as far as including an order cancellation link in your confirmation emails? Opinions differ on this point but enabling a customer to change his mind up until the last minute, namely before the order fulfilment process has been initiated, may be wiser and less expensive for your company than preparing and delivering orders that will ultimately be declined or returned.

2 – Prioritize proactive information – The post order process is not merely sending a confirmation email. You will avoid numerous WISMO calls if you keep your customers regularly informed, typically by sending them an email or SMS at each significant stage of their order’s preparation and dispatch process. These messages are all opportunities to provide increasingly accurate information about the delivery date and time and, as the case may be, to request the customer for additional information with the aim of safeguarding the delivery (building access code, floor, telephone number of the person who will be taking delivery of the order…).

Here again, it is a simple matter to automate these messages by interfacing the various software products on which your downstream logistics is based: stock management system, dispatch management system and, of course, route planning and real-time delivery tracking software.

>> Should you imitate the leaders? The e-commerce giants not only enable their customers to select their parcels’ delivery date and time, but to amend these choices as well, including on the delivery date itself.  Why do they do this? Simply because eliminating certain stages of a route, even at the last minute, is less expensive than delivering to addresses where the delivery person will not find anyone in. Whether you use freight service providers or have your own delivery fleet, this option merits serious consideration by weighing up the cost of wasted journeys, the cost of rescheduling delivery and benefits your company may derive from this flexibility in terms of customer satisfaction.

3 – Develop “self-care” tools – Consumers are now accustomed to finding out the information they need for themselves. You will spare them having to contact your customer service department to find out where their order is by giving them access to self-service tracking tools providing them with this information. All the major logistics players provide solutions that enable this type of service to be deployed on e-commerce websites. By inserting a link to these services in all your post-order email and SMS communications, you will encourage your customers to use them without requiring them to enter a complicated order number each time…

Provided they really are accessible on a one-click basis, are scaled to cope with peaks in login activity, and provide reliable information, these online services help dramatically reduce WISMO telephone and email queries. Moreover, they can help your customer service agents respond more quickly to customers who are not comfortable with digital tools or who prefer to deal with a human come what may.

We should add that real-time tracking of the last few miles of a delivery is now part and parcel of consumer expectations. Thanks to the real-time geo-location of your vehicles or those of your service providers, you too can enable your customers to view a map showing the approach of the vehicle carrying their delivery and communicate to them a continuously updated arrival time.

No matter what the size of your e-commerce website, you can match the post order management champions by implementing the strategy which sustainably frees both your customers AND your customer service from the burden of WISMO queries.

Our experts are on hand to advise you on your strategy and on our software solutions to help you achieve your projects.

>> book an appointment now!


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