How to delight your customers–

one shipping delay at a time
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If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you probably know how seriously I take “surprise and delight” in my business (and in my life!).

Not only is it so incredibly fun to leave a customer feeling utterly delighted by an upgrade to their order or to wow them with amazing customer service, it’s also delightfully fun for our whole team to see that same customer come back again and again, simply because they’ve had such a great experience.

These days the bar for customer interactions is set so low. For example, let’s talk about an email I’ve been seeing all over my inbox lately: the dreaded shipping delay notification.

↑ Cute hamper, right? 😉

In the days of increased demand, inventory shortages, and limited production schedules, if you’ve done even just a little bit of online shopping in the past year, I’m guessing you, too, have received emails like these.

The above notifications were from big box stores, which you can tell because they have 0.0% personality. It’s a missed opportunity, for sure, but basically what I’d expect from places that big.

However, I’m also seeing a lot of a similar messages from smaller shops, either directly on their websites or in my order notification emails. They read something like this (sliiiiiightly exaggerated for effect):

“Due to COVID-19 and shortages/issues, your order might be delayed up to XX weeks. Then, when we ship it, it’s going to be delayed even MORE because of USPS. Basically, we are totally overwhelmed, and the order you just placed made us even more so. Please, don’t send us any mean messages.”

This type of communication just breaks my customer-service-loving heart. Where is the surprise and delight?! Where is the warm-fuzzy feeling that this shop is excited to receive my order?

At best, I’m slightly annoyed. At worst, I wonder if this company is ok? Should I just cancel my order and put them out of their misery?

Just like with the email from the big box stores, this type of message is a missed opportunity– one that most small shops likely can’t afford to miss!

Even when times are tough–and even when things outside of your control impact your ability to fulfill orders, ship orders, do all the things you normally do when you would normally do them– I encourage you to not lose sight of the following truths:


Getting a lot of orders is freaking awesome. It’s the absolute BEST THING EVER! Your dreams are coming TRUE!


If you get as excited about the 974th order as the 1st order, you’ll always love your business


People LOVE being a part of the story of a brand that is on the rise

People love a story. They especially love a story with a happy ending. Everyone wants to be a part of supporting a company that is “getting big” or “going places.”
Just think of how fun it is to tell a friend: “see this company that is getting so famous? I have been supporting them since forever!!” We LOVE getting to say this about the up-and-coming companies we work with!

It’s why we secretly love the instagram-famous pan that’s been “sold out 6 times” and the sweatpants with “the eight week waitlist.” And it’s also why people love taking selfies while they wait in line in the rain at Georgetown Cupcake here in D.C., even though Baked & Wired’s cupcakes a few blocks down are even better. <- fact!

Here’s another example: When Warby Parker first launched, they were lucky enough to score some press in GQ, and overnight they had a waitlist of 20,000 customers for glasses that didn’t even exist yet. Guess what? They let those customers know about the wait and practically 0 people cancelled their order. I bet it only made people MORE excited to get those glasses.

Compared to the shipping delay notifications we looked at earlier, think of how different a message like this makes you feel:

“Thank you so much for your order! Due to an incredible outpouring of support from you all, our amazing customers, orders are XX delayed as our amazing team packs all of your orders with love and care. We’re so incredibly grateful for your order, and we’ve included a free sample scent/sweet/treat in your gift as a big thank you for your patience and support! Feel free to reach out to our team….”

Not only is the above message going to inspire fewer annoyed replies, it makes me feel happy, not sad. “Yes, YOU GO GIRL!” is what I think when I get the above message. Bonus points for including a real-life-in-production team photo!

Yes, it’s important to communicate clearly with customers. And yes, some customers will be grumpy no matter what. That’s ok, you’ll NEVER eliminate them completely.

Worry about everyone else– think about how you can surprise and delight them, even if (when!) you have to communicate “bad” news like a shipping delay. Show your customers your awesome personality. Convey to them how excited you are for their order. And let them peek behind the curtain and grow excited about being a part of your brand’s successes and growth!


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