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Published on October 27th, 2011 | by Janine Popick

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Setting Expectations with Your Customers this Holiday Season

Like so manOnline shoppingy shoppers during the holiday season, I do about 90% of my shopping online. I’m one of those people that likes it, only because I don’t have time to go into stores that much. Recently I wanted a pair of boots to wear for a specific occasion and found that Dillard’s had them (or said they did!).

I placed my order, never got a shipment email, and a week later still hadn’t received the merchandise. I went online to find out what was happening with my order. I checked the confirmation email, but it simply said the boots were “On Order,” with no explanation of what that meant. I decided to call the retailer to make sense of all this. A woman told me that the boots were “on order” from the manufacturer and wouldn’t be shipped for a few weeks, after the date I wanted them for. To boot (no pun intended) I had ordered expedited shipping which they happily charged me for!

What could Dillard’s have done differently?

  • Informed me when I ordered the boots, that they would not be in stock for a few weeks
  • Sent me an email giving me the estimated shipping date
  • Not charged me for expedited shipping

It’s all about setting expectations, and thanks to quality shopping sites like Gilt, RueLaLa, Amazon and Zappos, we’re all conditioned to expect this type of service. In fact, just yesterday Kim wrote about how Virgin America excels at proactive communication.

So when your customers are ordering products from you this holiday season, set their expectations properly by:

  • Telling your customers if you are out of a product (and let them know when you’ll have more)
  • Tell them when they need to place their order by, to guarantee shipping for the holidays
  • Ensure that they’ll be able to track their orders with your shipping company
  • Make sure that if they pay extra for expedited shipping, it counts!

Just a few things to think about before the holidays bite us all. What are you doing to prepare for the holidays?

© 2011 – 2013, Janine Popick. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.



2 Responses to Setting Expectations with Your Customers this Holiday Season

  1. Molly says:

    So true! I have Amazon prime which is a service that is supposed to have 2 day shipment. Though not a holiday order, I ordered products on Amazon that was split into two packages. The first one arrived fine, but the other was stuck in a sorting facility for 2 weeks. Amazon did credit me for the product like I asked, right away, thankfully. Still, it is very frustrating when your stuff doesn’t come when it’s supposed to with no notice!

  2. I think we all enjoy the convenience of the internet but I feel it is very important for each of us to be regular customers of local retailers. I also think it is incumbent on local retailers to use social media or advertise to let people know the brands they carry.
    I find MANY customer service groups to be terrible. I recently had a horrible online experience with the Sony Store and, although I love the product, I would never recommend them… rude/not helpful and the list goes on. For computers in our city there is no longer a “store” to shop in and feel that the people helping you have any clue of what they are doing.
    I agree with your idea on the ultimate customer service program but those are certainly few and far between. Buy local when possible.

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