Whether it is undertaking a service experience or receiving goods, factors such as the time, effort, cost and stress involved in taking delivery, taking away goods or sending a product will impact the customer experience.
Even when taking items from a store, those that are bulky, heavy, slippery, and fragile or have strange shapes that make them difficult to carry are going to cause problems. The vendor that makes the task easy by providing the correct carry bag, trolley or assistance is going to score well.
If, however, I have to struggle from the store, worrying about damaging my item, I am not going to be too pleased. Some stores offer gift wrapping, others arrange for the item to be sent to a pick up area while some, usually in the DIY or furniture sector, offer a short-term trailer or van rental.
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If I am buying online, I want a seamless, easy to use process at a reasonable cost that provides good security for my delivery. It also needs to satisfy my requirements. I have had numerous frustrating experiences where I could not pick it up from the outlet or box office, send it to a friend or have it delivered to a different address from the one on my credit card.
My most annoying experience is when I have missed the courier and been left a note to say I have to go to the depot to pick up the item. This is especially annoying when you have asked it to be left if no one is home or if the item is relatively inexpensive and of little use to anyone else.
This task can often take a few hours as you track down the depot, make the trip and then return – maybe all for an item that only costs a few dollars. A simple online purchase turned into a huge task.
What we want more than anything else is information about what the delivery entails and a reasonable expectation of what will happen in order to plan for the activity. I don’t want something left on the street because I didn’t know I had to arrange for assistance to take it into my building. I need to know if I need a technician or tradesman to undertake the installation once it is delivered.
I want to know if the item needs to be put in the refrigerator when it arrives. If it takes three days for delivery but the next shipment is in a month’s time, I want to have that information. I want to know that, if I go ahead with a digital download, that I am about to download 300MB of data and it will tie up my internet connection for three hours. It would be even better if I could choose when the download should start.
Some items are especially difficult to dispose of when they are replaced. It is difficult to dispose of bulky items, such as refrigerators, mattresses and washing machines. Some items require special handling, such as old batteries.
If I end up buying a replacement item – while being delighted with my purchase – and I have a stressful time disposing of the replaced item, my overall satisfaction might be very low. The vendor that makes this process easy is likely to score highly on this part of the buying experience.
With many service purchases, the consumer is engaged in an activity with the vendor. This usually happens with professional services, personal services, live entertainment and hospitality. The service delivery is the same as the use.
The place where use takes place directly impacts the experience. Personal preferences for the type of sound, smells, visual impact and ambience can directly impact the consumer’s comfort, pleasure and satisfaction.
Since the delivery activity varies greatly, the key for the vendor is to ascertain the customer’s preferences and expectations and to ensure the experience is closely aligned to expectations.
At the same time, the vendor has the opportunity to set the expectations or reset the expectations during the buying process. What you need to achieve is a customer who is satisfied, or at least neutral, about this aspect of the customer experience.