When you order an item online, you put your faith in both the company you are ordering from and the mail services companies that they use. Sadly, most of us have experienced the situation where you shop online at a trusted website and find an item that you love. You make the purchase and wait eagerly. But the item arrives damaged, or worse still, it doesn't arrive at all.
In this day and age, the problem for businesses comes not only with losing the customer, but also the larger impact that this can have thanks to social media. People no longer complain to the company alone, a complaint that appears on Facebook or Twitter can go viral and lose you hundreds of customers. Take Yodel for example, a delivery company that were not performing well. Not only did their customers take to social media, the problems got so well-known that they were investigated and publicly shamed by the BBC's Watchdog programme.
The first step is to find and stick to a delivery company that you trust. There are certain things that you'll need to offer customers in order to make absolutely sure that all orders arrive on time and with the right person.
All fulfilment companies should tell you how long their estimated delivery time is, so that you can pass this information onto your customer at the checkout and manage their expectations in terms of when their order will arrive.
A good, reliable tracking system should be in place to allow both you and the customer to find out where the order is at any point in time.
It is good practice to allow customers to leave a note for the delivery company with any special requirements. The doorbell maybe out of the line of sight, they could be away for a week and ask you to leave things with a neighbour, or they could have a secret hiding place for when they are out at work.
Both your company and the delivery company you choose to use must offer excellent customer service both for direct enquiries and for matters raised online. Complaints dealt with quickly and politely are highly unlikely ever to escalate and damage your reputation.