By Debra Wilson Ellis
More customers order in the holiday season's 11th hour; be ready to fulfill.
Customers take a leap of faith when they place last-minute holiday orders. Different reasons drive them to place orders at the 11th hour. And however they come, their orders are more than a transaction; they're symbols of their relationships with your company, and they're depending on you to deliver.
Successfully fulfilling last-minute orders solidifies your relationship with customers. It says, loud and clear, that they can trust you to deliver at their most vulnerable time. Consequently, failing to deliver during this time jeopardizes your long-term relationship. Last holiday season, Foresee Results tracked online shopper customer satisfaction weekly. It found that as the season progressed, customer satisfaction declined. The week before Christmas, the aggregate satisfaction score fell 0.5 percent to 77.4 percent.
Service Affects Business
Customers dissatisfied with any shopping experience are less likely to purchase again or recommend the company to others. Customers who've had an unpleasant holiday shopping experience may even aggressively lobby against the company. There are few second chances granted when failure to deliver occurs during the holiday season. While everyone knows this intuitively, the effects rarely are quantified.
Gauge Past Behavior
To see how service affects your business, take a sampling of customers who placed last-minute orders a few years ago. Divide them into two groups by whether they received their order before or after the holiday. Calculate the lifetime value for each group and compare the two. To compare holiday buyers to others, conduct the same analysis on customers who placed orders during the off season. Divide them into two groups by whether their orders shipped immediately or not. The results will provide you with a good reason to gear up for the holidays.
Customers increasingly are challenging the clock with last-minute purchases. Sometimes your marketing efforts drive last-minute purchases, but the trend is occurring even in companies that don't encourage it.