Agile retailers are moving fast as they accelerate ecommerce to make up for low in-store sales. But speed comes with its own growing pains. New processes and fulfillment teams are causing late shipments, cancelled orders, fulfillment mistakes, and difficulties handling customer service requests. In other words, a perfect storm for losing customers to Amazon.
Consumers, however, can be very forgiving of these types of hiccups (especially with a pandemic going on) as long as they receive good communications about their orders.
Here are three suggestions for improving communication with your customers:
- Set expectations early: For example, if you’re launching a drop ship or BOPIS program, let your customers know that it’s a pilot and there may be some bumps as you streamline your processes. Amazon did a great job of setting expectations at the beginning of COVID-19 when it told its customers they would be receiving non-essential orders much later than usual.
- Keep your customers updated: Communicate with your customers at each stage of their orders’ fulfillment and shipping process. Let them know immediately when problems or cancellations occur, and make sure they know what you’re doing to resolve any issues. A good rule of thumb is, if you think you’re over-communicating, you’re probably still not communicating enough.
- Easy access to customer service: Offer as many channels as possible for your customers to reach your representatives, including phone, email, and chat, and clearly share your contact info in every communication.
Setting expectations, providing continual updates on orders, and making sure your representatives are easily accessible, will help smooth over order processing issues. As long as you let customers know you’re doing everything possible to get them their orders, they’ll be much more forgiving of the occasional hiccup.
You’ll be amazed at how far a little communication can go!
PS: In order to provide accurate and timely communications to customers you need real-time inventory, order, and shipment data. Make sure your tech stack uses the most modern data processing technology available including API connections, cloud based processing, and machine learning. Sending inaccurate information to your customers is almost as bad as not communicating at all.