Category: business

Managing customer expectations when things go wrong

Posted 23 November 2013 in business, service design | No comments yet

Every couple of months I order a large delivery from the supermarket. I don’t own a car so I find it convenient to get bulky tins, dry foods, cleaning supplies and other bits and bobs delivered in one go. Last Wednesday, for the first time, I received a text message from Woolworths¬†about my upcoming delivery:

The time-slot I’d picked for delivery was 7-10pm and this message left me puzzling about just how long I might be waiting to receive my groceries.

After my delivery had arrived, I sent Woolworths an email about a missing item from my order and I wrote:

Also, thanks for the text message alerting me the delivery might be 120 minutes delayed. The language in the text message was a little confusing (“Hello, this is a courtesy message to advise that your Woolworths delivery driver will be delayed. Your delivery will be running up to 120 mins late”) because my delivery window was from 7pm-10pm which made me wonder if I might be waiting up til midnight to receive the delivery but happily it arrived at 10.01pm :)

Their response came back:

We also apologise for the late delivery and confusion in our notification. As you may now be aware, the lateness is calculated from your estimated delivery time, so in this instance you fortunately must have been scheduled for an 8pm delivery initially.

It was helpful to hear this, however Woolworths don’t communicate an “estimated delivery time” for an order to their customers.

My suggestions to Woolworths for communicating delivery delays via text message:

  • If the delivery will still fall within the chosen time-slot, don’t worry about notifying customers.
  • If the delivery will fall outside of the chosen time-slot, specify the latest time the delivery will arrive rather than the duration of the delay.
  • Or if Woolworths like their current process, specify what had been the estimated delivery time and what will now be the latest time. In my instance:¬†Your delivery was estimated for 8pm but will now be 10pm.

Overall, a text message about a delay helps to manage a customer’s expectations, however the message must be clear and specific about the worst-case scenario in order to readjust those expectations based on the current circumstances.

Judging a service from a single interaction

Posted 18 October 2012 in business, research | 1 comment

The other week I received a phone call from a mobile service provider asking me to take part in a survey to rate a conversation I’d had with their call centre a few days earlier. I agreed and the lady began by asking me whether the person I spoke to, let’s call him X but she used his name which I had taken down during the phone call, had helped me with my enquiry. He had, and I said so.

The lady asked me several rating questions on a scale of 0-10 about how helpful X had been before asking “How likely are you to recommend [mobile carrier] based on your conversation with X?”. Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.


Can cycleways encourage local consumer spending?

Posted 5 September 2012 in business, urban design | No comments yet

I bought a bicycle 4 or 5 months ago despite only cycling once (in the very bike-friendly town of Lund, Sweden) since my early teenage years. Having never owned a car, I mainly relied on my feet and public transport to get me where I need to go, but my bike has opened up Sydney in a new way.


Structuring surveys to avoid confusion

Posted 2 September 2012 in business, research | No comments yet

Tonight I went to look at the web site for Australian TV show, The Project, to find information about an upcoming story (which I failed to find.. hmf!) and a little overlay appeared asking me to take part in a survey so of course I accepted. It turned out the survey was being conducted by the same people as the SMH survey I wrote about the other week.

The survey started innocently enough asking demographic information. It asked the same “Where do you access the internet from?” question I’d had in the SMH survey, and happily in this version they provided checkboxes so that I could select multiple options. Then unfortunately the survey began to go downhill.