A tale of Goods Delivery Speed Perception

For any retailer to be successful online and offline, positive customer perception is essential. This helps build brand loyalty, customer retention, and your company’s reputation. Perceptions of customer service will impact whether a consumer uses your services in the first instance and also if they return.

There are many qualities that can shape a customer service perception. Increasing demand from consumers, especially for faster deliveries and other services, plays an important part and can’t be ignored by e-commerce and online retailers.

The Importance of Customer Perception

A company’s own perception and how customers perceive them can vary greatly. This can make customer perception difficult to measure unless a thorough survey is undertaken of both new and existing customers. Being aware of your customer perception is vital as it can make or break a brand in many cases. If you have a positive customer perception then maintaining this will be the aim, whereas should it be mostly negative then turning this round will be the goal.

Customer perception isn’t just about getting great value though, so simply cutting your prices or offering free delivery is unlikely to change much. There are all sorts of little things that can affect and improve customer service perception, such as a demonstrative caring attitude, making special exceptions or simply meeting your promises.

Delivery Speed expectation as a decision factor

Last year, I purchased an airconditioner device for my bedroom and like many, if not all of us, I did it online. Aside obvious price evaluation, there are certain things that I pay attention before pressing the button and finally make the purchase. Things like, website online reputation, other customer’s feebacks about the product, youtube reviews, comparison with previous versions of the product and more. At the very end of my decision process, I, more often than not, evaluate how long the store is promising to have the thing delivered. It had happened, in one occasion or two, a situation where I gave up the buy, regardless of the price difference, because the good would take too long to arrive at my house.

While I was reflecting about the subject, I stumbled across this article – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41270-022-00168-5 that depicts the impact of delivery performance on online review ratings and the role of temporal distance in ratings.

In simple terms the study suggests that there is little difference to ones positive perception when the delivery is done early than promised or on time. However, there is a big impact on end user perception translated into negative reviews (almost double) if the item is delivered late. The study also says that the temporal distance, or in other words, the likelihood of a user to make a review is significantly changed (this time to a higher proportion) if the delivery is late.

89% of the users who ever concluded a purchase online were more inclined to do so by reading the reviews on the product page. So, we can conclude that failing at delivery can hurt your business very badly (duh!) Delayed deliveries are experienced with greater psychological force than early deliveries of similar magnitude, affecting review ratings and therefore, sales.

Considering that a given user will be less inclined to review a product when he receives it on time than when he receives it after the promissed date, what would happen if, after reviewing my numbers, I add some days to the promised delivery date proportional to the failure rate of my business? I already know I would not by any means make the positives reviews grow but apprently I can reduce the negatives ones.

Playing with user delivery perception

The company where I purchased the air conditioner, deliberately sent me messages about the status of my product and its delivery with a delay in relation to where it actually was. When the good was finally at my house, they sent a final message saying that transportation was much faster than it was antecipated. Done! Just like that they changed the perception of an “on time” delivery to an “early” one. Using the same logic, they could have transformed a “delayed” delivery into a “on time” one.

Obviously, the two key factors that contributes to that mentality change is 1) a well calculated delivery date that sets the user expectation considering the likelihood of failure and 2) a very well synced messaging system that will induce the user to think that the transportation of his product is ahead of the schedule.

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