How to Respond to Customers After a Late Delivery5 min read

Nearly half of consumers (45%) say they are unlikely to continue ordering from a company if it delivers a package late.

On-time deliveries, though, aren’t always within a business’s control. 

Avoiding customer concerns and complaints about late deliveries only makes matters worse, but understanding how to respond to late deliveries can help you keep their business even after a poor delivery experience.

In this article, we share 3 tips for how you can communicate with customers in ways that help you to keep their long-term business, despite their disappointment over late package deliveries.

1. Be Honest About Your Capabilities

Don’t put your company in a situation where late deliveries are common because you’re stretching your shipping resources too thin.

Provide customers with realistic shipping times, even if that means your competitors can deliver quicker. 

Quick shipping is an attractive benefit to consumers, but knowing when to expect their deliveries is far more important.

Be honest with your customers about how quickly you can deliver an item. You risk damaging your relationship with them if you can’t fulfill your deliveries on time.

You risk damaging your relationship with your customers if you can’t fulfill your deliveries on time.

2. Be Transparent About Delays

If you find out a delivery is behind schedule, whether it’s due to weather, product shortage, or other unforeseen events, contact your customer immediately.

Customers are more forgiving when you’re transparent about the reasons for the delay and the adjusted shipping dates. 

For example, Boxycharm women’s subscription box sends out its products in the early part of each month. Its subscribers look forward to receiving their boxes and complain loudly on social media when boxes don’t arrive on time.

When Boxycharm learned there would be a 2-week shipping delay due to product shortages, it notified customers of the delay immediately and told them exactly when to expect their shipments.

Boxycharm proactively informing customers

While nobody’s happy about receiving a late delivery, consumers do understand that weather emergencies and product shortages can cause delays. When you let them know about a late delivery in advance, they’re less disappointed and more likely to forgive the problem.

3. Be Generous With Your Time and Compensation

According to an online shopping study, 90% of consumers complain publicly or privately, online and offline, after a bad delivery or returns experience.

Negative comments on social media aren’t always bad for your brand, though. 

People view brands more positively when they respond to negative comments. This gives you the chance to win back your original customers and visitors who are reading through your comments and reviews.

Thank complaining customers for their input, and let them know that you value your business and are making every effort to ensure late deliveries don’t happen again in the future.

Many businesses ask unhappy customers to message them privately, and frequently this means they’ll offer some compensation for their inconvenience.

Offering a credit, shipping refund, or free gift to customers whose deliveries are late shows that you value their business. These types of small gestures can help you retain customers who otherwise may not return.

For example, when Grove Collaborative experienced a significant shipping delay with its products, it emailed customers with an explanation, sincere apology, and free gift offer.

Groove apology and offer

By offering a free gift with the next order, Grove increased its chances of customers returning to place an order in the future.

Communication Can Help Retain Customers Who Experience Late Deliveries

Approaching your shipping operations from a customer-centric perspective helps retain customers in the case of late deliveries or shipping malfunctions. 

Your company risks losing customers when shipments are behind schedule. 

By communicating in a way that’s honest, transparent, and generous, you can significantly increase the chances of keeping your customers despite a poor delivery experience.

This Artilcle is a contribtion by Riley Panko

Riley Panko Headshot

Riley Panko is a Marketing Communications Manager for Clutch, a B2B research, ratings, and reviews platform. Clutch helps business buyers make informed decisions about partnering with a business services or technology solutions partner.

Here's How Can Help’s Delivery Experience Management (DEM) platform offers you a ton of opportunities to ensure that your customers receive their orders on-time and how they expect.

It also involves taking proactive action as required to correct issues in the last mile and constantly engaging customers to validate brand promises and optimize your last mile to the fullest.

Here are some of our DEM’s high impact offerings, which helps you resolve issues such as delivery delays proactively:

  •  Dedicated customer support dashboard – With the ability to track all your parcels across carriers, geographic locations and predict delays in real time, LateShipment offers you a purpose-built, intuitive dashboard that predicts delays and lets your customer support team intervene and fix last-mile issues before customer impact.

When your customer’s order is facing weather-related exceptions, you can send customized notifications and proactive issue resolution to build trust and keep them engaged post-purchase.

  •  Automated email notifications – The average online shopper tracks their parcel around 8 times post-checkout on the tracking page of shipping carriers like FedEx & UPS. This fact is more than enough to prove that customers are always anxious about their parcel’s whereabouts.

Keep your customers informed of important updates on packages by sending automated and timely email notifications about their orders for last-mile events such as “Shipped”, “Attempted”, and “Delivered”, so that their anxiety is eased.

  •  Integrations – To make resolving customer issues even more straightforward, integrates with every major eCommerce and CRM platform, Helpdesk tool, and Order Management system.

Send notifications on order delivery lifecycle, proactively handle delivery issues, get predictive alerts and send delivery-related tickets via our integrations to strengthen customer relationships and build rewarding delivery experiences.

At, our focus has remained steadfastly on the last mile, typically the part of the logistics chain that is the most opaque.

The best part is, it takes less than 2 minutes to see in action.

COVID-19 Note: To help tide over the current crisis, we are giving all businesses full and free access to our Delivery Experience Management Platform till June 30, 2020.

The value we add to businesses is most evident when experienced first-hand.