Customers may enjoy an element of surprise when it comes to the contents of their subscription box – but they don’t want to be kept in the dark about the details of their orders. Successful subscription-based companies make it a priority to educate their customers about the fulfillment process and manage expectations.
A traditional batch subscription program requires a consistent cadence, whether it’s monthly, quarterly or according to another schedule. It is important that subscribers understand what to expect at each step along the way. This helps to improve the customer experience, preempt a flood of questions to your customer care center, and ensure that fulfillment operations keep running smoothly.
It can be beneficial to anticipate the following 5 customer questions:
When Will I Be Billed?
For many programs, billing is the first touchpoint after customers sign up for a subscription. Let them know how your billing cycle works. Will they be billed immediately or on a schedule such as the first of the month? If they will not be billed right away, assure them that their order has been received and is being processed to alleviate potential concerns.
When Will My Subscription Order Ship?
Provide a clear timeline for each subscription box cycle, so subscribers know when to expect their orders. To account for fluctuations in transit time, many companies provide a delivery window for when orders will arrive. It is recommended to hold tracking numbers until the shipment is in transit to minimize the perceived wait time and reduce customer questions around why their tracking number might not have movement in the first few shipping days.
When Can I Cancel, Pause or Change My Order?
Establishing deadlines for changes upfront not only manages customer expectations; it also gives your fulfillment center operations a realistic view of what lies ahead. Best practices vary by company, depending on when they run their optimizations, process their payments, etc. Those who have a solid understanding of their business can give customers more time to make changes. Those who are less advanced may want to establish an earlier cutoff, so they have sufficient time to adjust operations if needed.
What If There’s a Problem with My Order?
When possible, communicate to subscribers promptly if a subscription box shipment is late or damaged, and let them know how you prefer to be contacted for more information. You’ve worked hard to build their trust. Open, honest communication will help you keep it.
When Can I Provide Feedback?
If you plan to ask subscribers to share feedback to help you enhance their next experience, give them a heads up. For example, some subscription box companies send an “It’s time” e-blast that coincides with the arrival of shipments to invite subscribers to respond to a survey, rate their shipping experience, etc.
Of course, expectation setting is only effective when you’re able to deliver. Be sure to make commitments that you’re confident you can support on an ongoing basis, and measure your performance every month to ensure consistency. If you utilize a third-party fulfillment provider, confirm that they have a clear understanding of subscribers’ expectations so they can help to satisfy them. Keep carrier partners in the loop as well.
With effective expectation management, your subscribers will be pleasantly surprised by the level of service you provide and eager to open their next shipment.
Nicole Lee is director of fulfillment at Saddle Creek Logistics Services