Shipment visibility can reduce, "where's my order?" calls. Visibility of shipment information allows the customer to check on the order without having to contact the call center. It also provides a proactive touch point to the customer "pushing" information to them. Knowing that the supplier or vendor knows where the item is supersedes a call to the center. This can be done in number of ways, but is most frequently seen in Web and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications where the customer enters a tracking or order number, or receives proactive emails with the status.
Unfortunately, there is no standard for the cost of, "where's my order?" calls. Each business within each industry is driven by their own unique cost of doing business, number of phone calls, and many other factors that impact how often people have to call and ask that question. In order to get the cost of these calls, you would first need to identify all costs directly and indirectly (labor, administration, communication and any allocated costs) that are associated with all calls. By taking the total cost and dividing it by the amount of total seconds of all calls you will end up with a cost per second that can be applied to the total number of seconds of "where's my order?" calls. This will allow you to determine, "what if I shorten my order status calls?" Or, simply take the total charges for order status calls and divide by the number of calls to reach your current cost per call.
It is difficult to gauge the range of time after the package has shipped when calls will come in. The amount of time varies greatly depending upon the circumstances. Re-contact by a customer depends greatly upon product, price, weather, time of year, geographic location, shipping method, processes and other factors. A customer may call immediately if a high-cost item, like an electronic component, has not arrived quickly, whereas they may be more tolerant for late arrival of other purchases. Setting and communicating realistic delivery expectations can help mitigate or lessen the amount of calls.
Determing the percentage of, "where's my order?" calls versus other types of calls has many factors and contributing elements. For example, a catalog company will receive a higher percentage of these calls during the holiday or buying season.
You might want to look at Prosci's Call Center Measurements Toolkit at the Call Center Learning Center for some suggested ways to calculate cost per call and other metrics.
This was first published in September 2006