How to Communicate Shipment Delays to Customers During COVID-19

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While many people worldwide are working remotely, e-commerce and shipping companies are still actively working to deliver orders to their customers. Given operational changes and safety implementations within the supply chain, many product shipments have been slower than usual.

That, paired with increased order volume across many digital channels, places added stress on warehouse and delivery companies responsible for bringing your product into the lives of your customers. 

With these new obstacles posed by COVID-19, it’s essential to maintain your customer’s support and trust. While delivery delays would traditionally drive people away from a service, companies can avoid losing business by crafting reliable, relevant messaging to their audience. 

This article will detail how companies can communicate shipping delays to consumers without sacrificing loyal customers during COVID-19.   

Communicate Delays on Your Website

The best way to prepare your customers for possible delays to their shipments is to warn them about it. 

This warning should come early in the buyer’s journey on your site. Your customers will appreciate seeing this information upfront before they’ve made their purchases.

Sephora has excelled in showcasing transparency in its messaging on its marketing emails and website. While the UX has not changed much from what users expect, the company has added a note indicating shipping delays.

Source: Sephora 

This message is both direct and easy for customers to find before adding items to their carts. It’s placed at the top of the page, so visitors don’t even need to scroll to interact with the message.

While the text is short and to the point, there is also the opportunity for users to click “learn more” for more detailed information on how COVID-19 is affecting their shipping operations.

When customers encounter a clear, transparent warning message that prepares them for likely delays, they will be more willing to accept them if they occur. 

This messaging will also play a role in establishing a trusting relationship between your brand and audience. Your customers will value your honesty and willingness to alert them to information that will affect their purchases, even when the news isn’t positive.   

Transparency with your customers is essential to communicating effectively with them about possible delays in shipments. 

Empathize with Consumer Lifestyle Changes

Your customers are likely operating within very different routines from the ones they’re used to. Showing empathy for them as they navigate the global pandemic’s uncertainty will remind them that your business is there to support them through these challenges.

First off, showing empathy while communicating a potential delay in shipment requires you to acknowledge the issue clearly and express thanks for the consumer’s understanding. From there, you can include additional messaging to get them excited about the product, despite the possible delay.  

Within their order confirmation emails, oVertone Haircare has mastered a clear and concise show of empathy.

Source: oVertone Haircare

In this short email, the company draws attention to potential delivery delays and thanks the buyer for being patient with the wait. Written in green, this messaging stands out and gets right to the point.

Simply thanking customers for their patience indicates that you understand that extra waiting time for deliveries isn’t ideal. The remainder of the email states that they’re still actively preparing the order, so there’s no need for consumers to worry about unfulfilled orders. 

Showing empathy for your customers in the delivery process doesn’t always have to be directly related to shipping. Consider other messaging consumers receive from your business and tailor it to fit the current situation.

Like many companies, Fitbit sends a weekly newsletter to its users. They’re centering their newest content on how people can enjoy their products at home. 

Source: Fitbit

In this email, the company focuses its attention on its mission to support its users, assuring them that Fitbit will continue to provide helpful resources to help customers maintain good health. 

These messages build confidence in your brand’s ability to work through the situation while still offering helpful solutions to customers. They also indicate genuine care for the health and well-being of those your business serves. 

Messaging that shows empathy and puts customers’ needs first while communicating the possibility for delivery delays will help businesses retain customers. 

Update Customers Consistently on Delivery Statuses

Even if you communicate the potential for late deliveries upfront and exhibit empathy for your customers, there’s still a chance that they become impatient while waiting for their products. 

Given the remote situation and the quick fulfillment times that consumers have come to expect, many will be eagerly awaiting their package at home and could benefit from additional updates on their order.

While many carriers offer frequent updates on individual orders’ progress, your company could play a role in further engaging them as they wait.

As their order is processed and moves through the supply chain, leverage your empathy and email marketing skills to touch with consumers. 

For instance, after oVertone sends the order confirmation email shown above, they continue their messaging with occasional updates on the order. 

Their updates included an email notification that indicated that the order had been processed and shipped as well as an informational message about their products after the first order. 

This continued engagement puts a customer’s mind at ease. The company is thoroughly tracking their goods’ progress, dispelling any worries about lost products or technical malfunctions.

These updates will also encourage people to engage with your organization further. While waiting for their product to arrive, they’ll have time to explore your other product offerings. Their desire for updates about their current order’s status will catalyze this additional engagement.

Customers want updates on their shipments because they want to ensure the safe, prompt delivery of their orders. You can give them this assurance through a few email updates throughout the delivery process.

Communicating Shipping Delays Eases Consumer Anxiety About Delivery Challenges

For both consumers and businesses, delays are not ideal. However, they’re unavoidable given the current world pandemic. 

Customers are willing to understand and accept delays if you communicate them the right way. This means focusing on empathy, transparency, and frequency in your messaging, adapting to the changing market. 

Sydney Wess

Sydney Wess is an editorial associate supporting supply chain content and research for Clutch.

How to Communicate Shipment Delays to Customers During COVID-19

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