Managing complex order tracking requests in retail

January 29, 2024

Share

PolyAI technical blog image

Despite the wide availability of online tracking, ‘Where is my order?’ (WISMO) requests still make up a significant portion of call volume for retail companies.

On the surface, automating WISMO requests over the phone is simple: your customer calls a number, types their tracking number into the phone’s keypad, and listens to a recorded tracking update.

But order tracking isn’t always as straightforward as it seems…

In this blog, we explore why existing automated solutions aren’t always effective, why WISMO requests can be complex, and the role AI-driven voice assistants play in managing these calls.

The hidden complexity of WISMO requests

1. Caller identification and outdated systems

Routine order tracking calls can be automated through simple caller ID and conversational IVR, where a caller speaks or types their order number.

However, caller identification isn’t always a linear process. When asked for an order number, a customer might say, “I don’t know.” What happens then? Without this information, most customers hit a dead end on the phone, or they wait on hold until an agent can help them.

Voice assistants can ID callers based on the order number, address, name, zip code, or any other piece of information you hold to connect the caller to the order. When the customer has questions or doesn’t know a piece of information, a voice assistant can guide them through the process as a live agent would.

2. Complex order tracking

Order tracking isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.

Where are my orders?

WISMO becomes more complex when customers have ordered multiple items that are dispatched separately.

“I ordered a coat and some new shoes. The coat arrived today. Your online tracker says the shoes will be delivered in two days, but I paid for next-day delivery. What’s going on?”

Suddenly, online tracking, FAQ pages, and legacy automated systems are of little help.

Delivery rescheduling

Callers asking to track orders will often want to take action based on the information they’re given.

For example, if a caller has ordered party decorations and they won’t arrive on time, there’s a good chance they’ll want to cancel the order.

Tracking returns, refunds, and repairs

In the same way callers want to track delivery status, they may want to chase a return to understand if it’s been received yet, when the refund will be paid, or, in the case of a repair, if it’s been fixed.

Voice assistants allow customers to hold conversations over many turns, for as long as it takes to solve the problem so that customers can speak however they like to get the information they need.

Whether a customer is canceling an order, negotiating a new delivery slot, or in need of detailed information on the status of their order, a voice assistant will resolve their query without the need for agent intervention.

The role of trust in automating WISMO calls

While deflecting calls to automated or digital support channels can reduce call volume, it has to be carried out effectively to avoid any damage to customer satisfaction.

Customers will often phone in a WISMO query because they hope to get a different answer from a human than they would from an automated or online tracking system.

To manage these calls effectively, a voice assistant must be capable of building trust and confidence in the customer that they are getting a genuinely helpful response. If they believe they will get a better answer from an agent, why wouldn’t they insist on speaking to one?

Conclusion

Despite the apparent simplicity of automating WISMO calls, existing methods of automation often fall short in handling the nuanced nature of these customer queries, especially as they become increasingly complex.

By allowing customers to engage in detailed, multi-turn conversations, voice assistants build trust and confidence, offering assistance that goes beyond the capabilities of traditional automated systems.

Embracing AI in WISMO management not only enhances customer satisfaction but also contributes to a streamlined and cost-effective approach for retailers.

Find out how to positively impact revenue by leveraging a new generation of conversational AI technology in our latest guide.

Ready to hear it for yourself?

Get a personalized demo to learn how PolyAI can help you
 drive measurable business value.

Request a demo