Customer experience is the summary of the interactions that occur between the customer and an organization during the entire course of their relationship. Among the most critical aspects of this journey is order fulfillment which is the final step in the sales cycle. By establishing a strategic fulfillment process, companies can help ensure a positive experience and reinforce customer loyalty.
It is not enough to advertise a product to the customer. Companies also need to provide adequate product information, encourage product reviews from existing customers and industry experts and anything else they can do to favorably influence purchasing decisions. The purchasing process itself should be convenient with intuitive websites that display flexible product filters and carousels. When the customer selects a product, they should be shown relevant information regarding the product, its actual price including shipping costs if applicable, tentative shipping and delivery dates, return policy, etc., along with an option to call or chat with customer service in case of questions.
Many companies offer multichannel shopping where customers can make purchases from their preferred channel, i.e., stores, websites, mobile apps. These multi-channel merchants need to be equipped to receive, track and fulfill orders from all sources in a consistent manner which will, in turn, ensure a uniform customer experience across channels. For example, as a leading retailer in this area, Walmart provides multiple options – from buying online for pick up at a local store, ship-to-home for a fee or ship free to a local store or a nearby Fed-Ex location.
Once customers have purchased a product, the company has the responsibility of ensuring they receive the product in the expected time and manner. Shorter shipping times are the order of the day with giants like Amazon setting the bar high with same-day delivery options. Companies that handle a large number of customer orders can choose to outsource fulfillment service to business process outsourcing (BPO) partner who can often provide real-time inventory management and more attractive shipping rates. Also, a centralized order fulfillment system that integrates all the retail channels can be very useful in tracking orders and providing holistic customer service.
It literally speaks volumes for your business when a customer shares a picture of an attractively packaged product with his or her online social network. Consider that 61% of customers say they are convinced to purchase a product after viewing an image in social media and 55% have become curious about a product after watching an “un-boxing” video shared by another customer. While it’s a given that packaging needs to be practical, its appearance should also be attractive enough to make customers feel excited about opening it. Adding personality to packaging – whether through printing techniques, stickers with messages, personalized notes to the customer or thank-you cards – can go a long way in delivering a unique experience.
Order fulfillment process is becoming more complicated than ever. A fine-tuned fulfillment process can go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction and building loyalty in new and returning customers.