In 2014 we made a big improvement to our shipping offerings by guaranteeing 3 day or less delivery to the 48 states at Ground rates. After launching USPS we learned pretty quickly that while Priority and First Class Package Service often arrive in 3 days or less, they often also don’t, and estimated delivery dates are not guaranteed by the USPS. We therefore decided to only guarantee FedEx services (and by guarantee, we mean we’ll refund the cost of shipping if the package doesn’t arrive on time).
Up until last Friday, the checkout page looked like this, with that little arrow icon designating our guaranteed shipping:
This year we started doing customer service “audits” where we pick a topic and dive deep into improving it. Our employee who manages customer service will read through recent conversations around a topic and then present to us a list of improvements to our text expansions, FAQs, contact form flow, copy on other pages of the site, and UI/UX improvements based upon what he’s seeing.
Out of one of those meetings around shipping complaints came the idea to improve how we designate our guaranteed delivery time. We noticed a pattern of people picking USPS options and then complaining that the package arrived a day or two late, despite the lack of guarantee and the word “estimate” on that page and in our order confirmation emails. They’d often also suggest that they would have been willing to pay more for a guaranteed option if they knew that the option they selected (or more likely, were defaulted to) was not guaranteed.
We set out to more clearly show which options are guaranteed and which aren’t in hopes that at least some portion of the customers who need a package by a certain date will adjust their shipping method accordingly. It won’t entirely solve the problem, but it will help.
After some back and forth and studying what other companies do, we shortened the date and added a “Guaranteed” badge next to the guaranteed options:
Previously, someone would have had to notice the arrow icon, look down below to read what that arrow icon meant, and then possibly click off the page for more information. The word “Guaranteed” is so clear that we were able to eliminate that line of text and also any linking off of the checkout page (something that isn’t a good idea even if it opens in an overlay or a new tab/window).
It also reinforces that concept that we learned when we did our Responsive Mobile UI Split-Test: Icons or Text: it might not always look better, but text is always more clear than icons, even popular ones, and during a checkout process clarity trumps everything else.