I agree with that process, but notice that not all information provided leads to the desired self-service.

I’ve been an amateur windsurfer since the 1980’s when everyone had a windsurf board. I started out – very typically – during the summer holidays in the south of France but soon I started windsurfing in The Netherlands as well. This increased my ‘time on the water’ dramatically. It also led me to being used to changing my equipment regularly. On the one hand because my interests, windsurf spots or available time changed over the years, on the other hand because buying new gear is one of the next best things to windsurfing. Especially in periods of very little wind or a busy life.

At this moment I’m reinventing my equipment, which instigated the search for a very specific sail in a specific size. The sail brand is being developed in Hawaii and imported to The Netherlands so I reached out to this importer. He quickly responded that he had just placed an order and that the next order and shipment would arrive in seven months time. Not willing to wait that long I started searching and arrived at the website of the sail brand itself and as luck would have it they had a lightly used sail that fit my search exactly, but located on the other side of the world, in Hawaii…

I dropped the sail brand an email requesting shipment costs for that specific sail, hoping it would be reasonable. The response came swift and indicated a $100 shipping fee including tax and all other costs. Compared to a €25 shipping fee within The Netherlands it sounded reasonable to ship a sail across the world for that amount. The sail brand emailed me a link to the check out of their web shop allowing me to order very easily, which I did on Tuesday.

They delivered the sail – well packaged – to an internatonal shipping company and supplied me with the track & trace code and a delivery date of Friday before 12:00 am. The an internatonal shipping company has a beautiful tracking system in place for their customers. I was able to track my package being picked up in Hawaii, see it arrive in Memphis, USA, Paris France and finally Utrecht The Netherlands. It does show some statuses that could do with a customer facing label. Apparently as soon as a package arrives at a warehouse it gets labelled “in transit” before it leaves the warehouse to get ‘in transit’ again. As a customer I would prefer a label like “internal distribution” until it leaves the warehouse and only use “in transit” for travel between the different warehouses.

Nevertheless I was able to follow the package as mentioned until it arrived at Utrecht on Friday morning at 7:00, well on time to get it to my door before 12:00 am (which in itself is a 30 minute drive). Then I received an email stating that the package wouldn’t arrive until the following Monday, so after the weekend! I immediately checked their track & trace system and it mentioned Monday as well. Considering my package had just travelled halfway around the globe, it was virtually at my doorstep but for some reason the an internatonal shipping company was unable to deliver it that day!

Eager to get the package that day I called the call centre. The IVR message requested me to provide the track & trace code. After leaving the code the message was equal to the email and track & trace overview: delivery after the weekend. I entered the code to get an agent on the line to express my dissatisfaction. The agent already viewed all my details (excellent integration between IVR and CRM system) and informed me that the package would arrive that Friday instead of Monday. The change of delivery date was due to the package being scanned after a specific time that morning, resulting in an automated rescheduling of delivery date in the systems. Because that rescheduling is not communicated to the delivery person, my package was still on track for delivery on the date that had always been foreseen. If I had acted on the email and track & trace system and not stayed at home, the delivery person would have been at my door without being able to deliver and would have had to return a second time to deliver my package after the weekend. Fortunately for the an internatonal shipping company and for me I didn’t accept the delay and reached out to them  so that they could deliver that Friday making me a happy customer in the end.

So all in all, this proves that we are all global customers. We can easily order something from the other side of the ocean and have it delivered to our homes at acceptable cost and in acceptable time. Being able to track & trace a parcel provides a lot of security in such transactions. However, it is key NOT to be too transparent and expose customers to all your internal ERP system messages without additional and customer friendly rules and labels. Firstly because not all internal messages make sense to the customer. They may even be confusing. Secondly any well-known mistake by the system should be kept hidden for customers.

Quite contradictory to the underlying goals of increasing customer satisfaction and decrease costs by providing as much information on a package, ‘simply’ exposing all internal messages directly to your customers may actually harm your customer satisfaction and increase costs!