During the highest volume sales period of the year, there are bound to be hiccups.  Having stock to fulfill orders, filling them correctly, shipping on time, and providing appropriate support are all things our customers expect. But as volume goes up for us as well as all of the other vendors we rely on both before and after the point of sale, the more frequently we may run into challenges. How should we address them?

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Customer headaches can be avoided with proactive service.

Customer headaches can be avoided with proactive service.

The worst surprise is a bad one. Nothing angers a customer more than idly discovering that there is a problem with a reasonable expectation they had. We’ve all had cases with an irate customer calling in the moment they’ve discovered their item is backordered or that delivery is being delayed. But we can lessen the impact of these events with the simple investment of our time.

Proactively alerting our customers to problems their orders are experiencing is key to mitigating the disappointment or anger they may otherwise experience. If an order is backordered, reaching out with an exact fulfillment date or an option of an alternative item at a slight discount softens the blow. If we discover a shipping mix-up, alerting the customer that the correct item is on its way in an expedited manner can save the day. If an order has been delayed before hitting the shipping bay and it may jeopardize our delivery commitment for the holidays, it’s time to do a complimentary shipping upgrade and let the customer know that the delivery is being rushed to maintain our promise to them. And if we discover a technical difficulty with one of our products, sending out an alert with information for a fix or workaround is the best solution.

By taking the time to acknowledge our challenges and immediately offering solutions to our customers, we not only present our companies as caring about our customers’ experiences and soften the frustration they might feel, but we also save both ourselves and our customers the time that would otherwise need to be spent on each one of those individual cases contacting us to demand solutions.

Make an assessment of the areas that crop up more frequently that cause customer headaches. What have you been doing to address those things or what can you implement going forward to lighten the burden for everyone involved?