Authored by Mike Stewart, Business Development Director – Digital Automation at ArvatoConnect
‘Where’s my order?’ (WISMO) or ‘where’s my return’ (WISMR) are some of the most common questions that customers need brands’ help to answer.
Customers want retailers to tell them the status of an order or return immediately and on their channel of choice.
Managed well, it can help drive loyalty and repeat business. But managed poorly, it can strain relationships, tarnish experience and damage brand reputation – and even cause customers to abandon sales altogether.
Not every brand is equipped to deliver. How can retailers adapt to make sure they’re ahead of the pack?
Hey, Mr. Postman…
Most retailers will have established a WISMO or WISMR system as part of their customer service operations.
In its simplest form, these enable an agent or the customer to check where their package is in the logistics or payment processing pipeline.
But there can be shortcomings in how these are designed and operate.
For example, they may be limited to just one contact channel. Here, customers might need to directly call a brand and speak to an agent for assistance, rather than being able to self-serve through the website or webchat.
In an environment where shoppers are increasingly purchasing across different channels and platforms, this increases the distance between the point of sale and the point of service – adding inconvenience, as well as increasing the risk that they choose to abandon the purchase or interaction.
And, during times of high demand or supply chain disruption, such as the 2022 Christmas period, where late deliveries rose by a third (33%) year-on-year1, requiring customers to speak to an agent can increase the chance of bottlenecks and long wait times – only making problems worse.
Meanwhile, WISMO and WISMR systems may require manual operation from a CX team member.
When a customer asks for an update, an agent may need to take customer details and search for the order in the retailer’s own delivery system.
Where it’s not available or not recorded, they then request information from elsewhere in the business or from a delivery partner, and then follow-up manually once the information is received. This not only increases the amount of time it takes for the customer to get an answer, but ties-up valuable human resource with mundane work.
Thinking outside the box
One solution is to apply intelligent automation to the WISMO / WISMR process and extend it to operate seamlessly across all of a brand’s contact channels.
Intelligent automation easily integrates with a retailer’s fulfilment and payment processes, and even third-party partners, to automatically identify the status of customers’ parcels or refunds.
Where this is applied to a self-serve channel, such as webchat, customers can get a fast response to their queries entirely without any input from a human agent.
If the information isn’t available – for example, where the query needs to be escalated to a third-party partner – the technology can give the customer a timeframe for a response and automatically update them when the answer comes to hand.
It can augment human-led processes, too.
With the support of intelligent automation, a contact centre agent can ask the system to automatically investigate an order or refund request for them, while the customer is on the phone.
This frees-up their time to add value to the interaction. In the case of a return, this could provide the opportunity for an agent to offer other products that a customer may prefer instead – for example, where a customer is returning an item of clothing, another different size, cut or colour.
Ultimately, this helps keep the money inside the business, rather than losing it entirely through a refund.
And, when intelligent automation is used as part of a broader digital engagement platform, brands can go even further – shifting from a reactive to a proactive footing. Artificial intelligence can analyse a customer’s full order history and recommend other items they may want based on their specific tastes and preferences, creating new opportunities to upsell.
Overall, the benefits of an automation-powered WISMO / WISMR system can be significant.
Along with enhancing the quality of experience customers receive, businesses could see call times and the cost-to-serve cut by 50% – increasing to 70% when the technology is applied to channels such as webchat and email.
Putting your stamp on it
Brands are already facing a ‘returns tsunami’ – with online returns up 27% year-on-year as of November 2022. Delivery volumes are only set to grow as e-commerce continues to expand.
In this environment, it’s an imperative that retailers can effectively manage WISMO and WISMR requests in a way that strengthens customer relationships, and provides opportunity to retain, or grow, their spend.
At Arvato, we’ve been working with a leading global footwear brand to help it apply intelligent automation to its WISMO processes, and have a track record of helping major retailers develop and optimise their CX strategies and systems.
To learn more about how our experts can help you with your WISMO and WISMR requirements, contact us today by emailing: CRMSE@arvatoconnect.co.uk.