We all know just how damaging an angry customer can be in the formative stages of any new business.
When founding Shippit.com, Will On and I were acutely aware of the importance of customer service in the delivery services industry – it was frustration that drove us to start the business in the first place.
All it takes is a quick Google search on courier service ratings and reviews to reveal just how angry customers get when things go wrong with their deliveries.
In a services sector with so much potential for things to turn ugly, Shippit.com has maintained an average satisfaction rating of more than 98% since the service was launched almost 12 months ago.
That’s not to say it’s been smooth sailing, with thousands of parcels flying around Australia, things inevitably go wrong and our customers have unfortunately been exposed to breakages, missing parcels and general courier mishaps.
Whilst a large part of maintaining our high satisfaction rating has been the result of predicting what could go wrong and proactively intervening, handling complaints has been critical to our success.
Here are the top three lessons we’ve learned along the way that will hold true for any startup wanting to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction:
- 1. Communication and transparency is king
Startups should live by the principle that no-one should have more information than the customer – when customers receive frequent updates, they can clearly observe a sense of urgency and care has been placed around resolving their issue.
Think about the last time your flight was delayed and you were stuck on the tarmac – what keeps everyone calm and reasonable is when the pilot transparently advises passengers of the reason for the delay.
- 2. Set the right expectations straight away
Just like any startup, we did our fair share of overpromising to win new customers. This did nothing but put a target on our back whenever things went wrong. Operating in such a fast-moving space relying on courier companies, it was clear we couldn’t guarantee 100% successful delivery for every parcel that travels through our network.
To overcome this challenge, we place a great deal of importance in setting out the risks associated with using our service right from the outset. One example of this is during our onboarding process where we tell new customers to pack their fragile items for the worst so they can prepare for the best outcome. Once a customer is clear of the risks they are taking, they can make the necessary precaution to ensure there are no ugly surprises.
- 3. If all else fails, cupcakes can always help
Sometimes you just need to set logic aside and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Whilst our network completes a new delivery every two minutes, our recipients may only ever experience one delivery from our business – in some cases it could be the delivery that makes or breaks their day.
When things go wrong in these circumstances, it is important for us to reflect on what we would have been willing to endure if we were on the receiving end. So when we stuffed up, we have delivered something special – a dozen “we’re sorry” cupcakes for that customer to share with their office.
Whilst it was in no way a scalable solution, it was a decision we made to ensure our customers know just how important they are to us.
Rob Hango-Zada is co-founder and director of Shippit.