What is a normal WISMO rate?

17 Apr 2023

6 min read

Woman tapping her card at the till
Woman tapping her card at the till
Woman tapping her card at the till

WISMO, or Where is my Order?, queries are some of the common questions that a retailer has to deal with – but they are also some of the most frustrating.

WISMO queries are frustrating because often the retailer is not responsible for a package being delayed or going missing. Instead that is often down to a fulfilment partner or delivery company, but the retailer is often left having to field the queries from customers.

Another reason they are frustrating is because, for an agent, the process for dealing with a WISMO request is pretty simple and repetitive. It’s usually something like this:

  • Find the tracking link

  • Check the status of the package

  • If it’s in transit, inform the customer and share the link

  • If it’s delayed, raise an issue with the carrier

  • If it says it’s been delivered, confirm with the customer

  • If the customer cannot find the package, raise an issue with the carrier, and process a replacement or refund for the customer

This is a time-consuming process for an agent to go through, and it is essentially an information gathering process (find shipping status, checking and confirming with the customer), which does not leave a lot of room to add value to the customer. WISMO queries are boring for the agent, time-consuming, can clog up your ticketing system or CRM, and leave little opportunity to improve the customer experience. 

Therefore it is in a retailer’s interest to have as few WISMO queries as possible. It’s inevitable that anyone shipping anything will have delays and packages going missing, so it’s impossible to get down to 0 WISMO queries. But what does normal look like?

To find out we took a look at our customer data. Our AI automatically detects the intent in a customer query, so we are able to detect when a question is a WISMO query (e.g. “I can’t find my package”), and then our customers can create a Flow to deal with these questions.

What this means is that we can see how many WISMO queries our customers get, and can get a sense of what normal is. From now on we are going to call this the WISMO rate, i.e. the % of a customer’s total queries that can be categorised as WISMO. 

What is an average WISMO rate in a typical month?

We started by looking at the calendar month just gone, March 2023. Across DigitalGenius we saw that the number of WISMO queries from customers was 21% on average. 

If you see that figure and think about the enquiries you and your team receive, does it make sense that around 1 in 5 conversations you have with customers is about where their package is?

If it doesn’t make sense, then that might be because as ever an average hides some of the data underneath, and in this case it hides the range of figures that we saw. 

Here is a graph that shows the range of WISMO rates across our customers grouped into ranges.

WISMO rates across retailers, March ’23

As you can see, most of our customers see a proportion of WISMO enquiries that is significantly less than 21%, but there are some businesses who see far more, which brings up the average. In fact we observed that 2.7% of our customers saw WISMO proportion of between 45-50% in March. 

Obviously averages across all retailers is interesting, but what’s more insightful is to dig a little deeper and see what differences we can spot when we break things into retail verticals. Here is the average WISMO rate for March across our customers:

Apparel: 21.8%

Beauty: 17.8%

Consumer Goods: 35.1%

Food & Beverage: 8.4%

Home & DIY: 19.8%

Luxury: 14.7%

Sport: 21.9%

We can see a clustering around the 15-20% mark for these figures, with two main exceptions. Food & Beverage, where freshness is key, has a particularly low WISMO rate, while Consumer Goods is bringing up the average.

But what about peak months?

The most recent peak period was beset with problems from postal strikes and delivery issues among other providers. 

With the volume of orders going up, and these problems in tow, naturally the average WISMO rate went up. In fact across the same cohort, the average WISMO rate was 36% across December and January, the height of the peak period. This is 72% higher than March.

This increase is one of the reasons why when we surveyed 200 Heads of Customer Service, two-thirds (67%) of them hired temporary staff for the peak period. Being able to reduce WISMO cases or deflecting them away from agents will make customer service far more efficient for retailers. 

But once again, the proportion of WISMO queries varies a lot across different retailers. In fact it varies far more during peak than it does outside of peak months. Here is the breakdown for December and January:

WISMO rates across retailers, December ’22 – January ’23

This time there are a couple of outliers where WISMO is the vast majority of what they are seeing coming through their system. Remember that WISMO isn’t just about tracking an order, but can be about delays, missing orders, orders that were supposed to be delivered but haven’t. But it can also be about orders that haven’t shipped yet because of a manufacturing problem. It can also be because a particular delivery partner is underperforming, and drilling into this data can be invaluable to find out what’s causing these WISMO queries.

Looking at verticals, we see a similar situation to before, but there are some interesting insights. Firstly, beauty brands had a particularly bad time during peak, rising from 17.8% to 61.3% of queries being WISMO. 

Secondly, Food & Beverage remained low. Supply chains are so essential to that vertical, so it’s positive to see that there was little change.

Finally, Luxury actually saw fewer WISMO queries as a percentage. This may be because luxury brands tend not to get dragged into the frenzy around Black Friday and discounting – or it could just be that their customers are a little more patient.

So… what is a normal WISMO rate?

During normal, non-peak months, most retailers should expect to see around 10-25% of their queries asking “Where is my order” or questions related to that. During peak, on average this can increase by a further 72%, but most would expect to be within 15-40% at this time.

What can you do if you’ve got a high WISMO rate?

If these numbers sound like a dream state to you, and you want to manage them better, here are some suggestions:

  • Use other channels: If you can email and send by another channel such as SMS you may be able to head these questions off at the pass.

  • Dig into your data to find out where your WISMO queries are coming from. E.g. is a particular carrier causing problems, or is a certain depot underperforming compared to its rivals?

  • Be proactive: observe when delays occur and automatically inform customers rather than letting them come complaining to you. 

  • Automate your response processes: we outlined a typical process an agent would follow. With integrations to your ticketing system, CRM, and carrier platforms there is no reason why you couldn’t find all the information you need. 

To find out how you can do all of these things through DigitalGenius, drop a message to our team today

What if I don’t know what my WISMO rate is?

You can look at your own data and categorise it, but what’s the point when you could do it automatically? If you sign up for our free Automation Analysis, our AI can automatically categorise all of your tickets for you, so you can see what your own WISMO rate is, as well as seeing what your other top categories are.