I’m sure you’ve noticed supply chain issues and slow deliveries in almost every aspect of your life over the past couple of years. The technology world has been affected just like every other industry. Product is back-ordered anywhere from 10-30 days.
In a rather uncharacteristic move this weekend, Apple issued a short press release update validating that Covid-19 restrictions have indeed temporarily impacted Foxconn’s Zhengzhou China production facility, significantly reducing output. As a result, the consumer electronics icon indicated that despite strong demand for iPhones, customers will likely have to wait longer to receive their new smartphones because lower shipments are now anticipated.
Well, how do we handle this as we live in a “Right now” society? We try to follow the steps below and it seems to lessen the impact on our clients.
- Manage delivery expectations. We all know that we may not have control over shipping delays, so it’s critically important to know what you can and should tell your customers. If it looks like the promised delivery date won’t be met, you can take action to ease customer frustration. The best time to do this? Before you close the sale with your customer. Setting early and clear expectations allows customers to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy from you.
- Provide ongoing shipping updates. … Customers do not think that “no news is good news” in fact, hearing nothing from you after placing an order is one of the most common causes of delivery anxiety. You can build an ongoing relationship and repeat customer loyalty by offering more communication after the sale than your competitors.
- Shipment tracking updates offer reasons to connect and build brand trust. Don’t let a delay be the first time a customer hears from you after the sale.
- In addition to the order confirmation email, follow up emails through each stage of the fulfillment process are a good plan. A shipping confirmation and/or a delivery confirmation so customers can plan for its arrival is another touchpoint.
- Following up with a satisfaction survey after delivery can also give you great insight and the ability to turn a bad review into a good one before it happens.
- Communicate sooner, not later. … As soon as a possible shipping delay is identified send your customer an email that includes the following:
- Heartfelt apology for any inconvenience
- Explain what you know about the delay
- Explain what you are doing to handle the situation
I’m so sorry to inform you that we have been notified of a delay in the delivery of your products/services. We have discovered there is a delay due to an issue with the shipping carrier, and we expect it to arrive within 2 weeks. We will continue to be in contact with the shipping carrier and have asked for daily updates which we will share with you so you’ll know when your products will arrive.
I cannot stress this enough – DO NOT MAKE ANY FALSE PROMISES. Doing so will make a bad situation worse. Finally, tell customers when to expect updates from you, and then be sure to follow up and do them. Patchy communications after an issue is identified will frustrate the heck out of your customers!
- Offer a solution. … When delays occur, most customers just want to know how you’re going to solve the problem. You may have heard the saying, “everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you correct them that matters.” Perhaps an offer of a discount on their next order or gift card or product as an apology. Whenever you don’t meet customer expectations, you should also be prepared to offer a refund if the customer wants it. Putting options on the table for them to choose puts your customer in the driver’s seat and restores their faith in your brand.
- Offer shipment tracking to alleviate delivery anxiety by providing a continuous flow of updates that customers can check as often as they’d like. It’s also a valuable post-purchase branding opportunity by directing your customer to a tracking page on your website.
To make a long story short, none of us want to hear that our Christmas gift or needed device is going to be delayed. I think by being completely open and explaining why, most times the client will understand.
Here’s hoping all your deliveries are on time and without delay.
Todd and Laura Fritz
Intelligent Wireless Management