Every act of communication influences an organisation in some way or other. It is a thread that holds the various interdependent parts of an organisation together. When it stops, organisation activity ceases to exist. An idea, however great it is, is useless until it is transmitted and understood by others. These are important business lessons in regards to communication. The same holds true when you order online and expect your package by a certain date. Situations arise that are out everyone’s control that may delay a package including weather, traffic accidents, technology issues, etc.
And despite the best efforts of retailers, these situations that may throw a wrench in shipping plans and there is little that can be done to control the last mile of the online shopping experience.
Here are some tips for customer service teams that need to communicate a delay in shipping to customers.
Emails are easier; phone calls are higher touch. With ecommerce purchases, customers expect most communications from the retailer to be done in the same medium. Depending on the severity of the delay — number of customers affected, dollar value of the order, etc. — always consider calling customers about delivery issues in addition to an email. Consider the speed with which an issue can be resolved for your customer when discussing solutions in real-time.
Be apologetic. This might seem obvious, but a sincere apology will go a long way when accompanied by reasonable explanations for snafus.
Be transparent. Customers can often tell when they’re being given a vague reason for a problem, or worse, when they’re being lied to — delivering explanations in real-world terms helps them relate to what went wrong, and why.
Deliver solutions with options. In some cases, consider giving your customer those choices on a platter and let them make the call on how to bring an unsatisfactory issue to a close. “Would you like to wait until your item becomes available again and we’ll overnight them to you? Or, would you prefer to cancel the order and receive a 10% credit on your next order?” Choices such as this can quickly change the customer’s mindset from being the victim to being in control.
Under-promise, over-deliver. Make sure you keep any expectations for a quick resolution within reason. You’ve already disappointed the customer once, so don’t do it again by making promises you cannot keep. On the flip side, a loyal customer knows that your estimated 20-day delivery is probably padded, so don’t go crazy with the under-promise, over-deliver strategy.
Over-communicate. Keep your customer abreast of progress as you work toward resolving their issue. If goods have finally changed hands from a third-party vendor to your warehouse, tell them.