Confirmation Emails – The Forgotten Part Of The User Journey

I was recently buying a printer online from a well known UK retailer. I chose to have the printer delivered to a local store which stated it would be available by 5pm the following day.

Shortly after paying I received an email stating the following:

Your Pay & Collect order XXXX is on its way and will be delivered to our Leyton store.

What happens next?

Once your order has been delivered to our store, we will email you to let you know when you can come in and collect it.

I had some other errands to do the following day so I figured I would just wait until I received the email and go collect it. 5pm came and went, and by that stage it was too late to chase up or collect the order so I had to wait until the next day to call up and find what was happening.

After speaking to the lady on the phone she said “It has been delivered to the store, i’m sorry someone didn’t call you” to which I replied “I thought I was meant to get an email”. “Oh no, it’s a phone call”.

Call CentreThe fact that they hadn’t called wasn’t what annoyed me, it was that the communication was stated to come via one channel  but was in reality through another (I very rarely check my phone so I would never choose this option).

Now I’m not sure if the reason for this is an incorrect or old sentence in the email template, a particular stores way of doing things or something else but whatever the reason the information in the email and the actual journey didn’t marry up and this is always running the risk of creating a bad user experience.

Design for all parts of the journey

Confirmation emails such as order updates, account registrations and forgotten password reminders are all too often overlooked in the designing of user journeys and seen simply as a dev task.

Confirmation emails are a key way in which users:

  • Get positive reinforcement of their actions on a site
  • Interact with your website and brand whilst on the move
  • Receive first level support (for instance in forgotten password reminders)

In the same way you would design any webpage you must make sure your confirmation emails:

  • Contain the content the user is looking for at the time they need it – e.g. order updates and confirmations
  • Have clear calls to action where appropriate
  • Contain accurate and up to date information
  • Are designed suitably for the devices they are likely to be viewed on

If confirmation emails become a UX afterthought then they run the risk of creating a disjointed user experience which can erode trust in your brand.

Image copyright Media-Saturn-Holding GmbH, State Farm