So, you have targeted your audience, you have bombarded them with the best campaign that your marketing team could conceive of and to your delight they have chosen you out of the 100s and 1000s of companies to buy from. That’s the hard part over and done with, right? Wrong.

Over the last 3 to 4 years we have seen a trend developing when it comes to retail, especially during peak periods. More and more time is being taken up by customer dissatisfaction towards shipping and receiving their products on time. Let us give you some advice on choosing a courier company, streamlining communication between departments, dealing with customer complaints and more.

The Impact of Delivery Times on Customer Satisfaction

Today’s consumers expect quick delivery times and failure to do so can result in the loss of that customer forever. A study carried out by tech company Voxware concluded that 69 percent of respondents are much less or less likely to shop with a retailer in the future if an item they purchased is not delivered within two days of the date promised. Now, Voxware is not a retail company with thousands of different competitors at the click of a button so just imagine this statistic if the company in question sold PC supplies or shoes! It would be even higher one would expect.

In a way, these high customer expectations are due to Amazon. They have set a precedent for fast and efficient delivery and in doing so have raised the bar for logistics in retail. For the last 3 to 4 years we have dealt with these customer expectations first hand. One of my company’s largest clients ships its products to the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and more. We liaise with their couriers to ensure that their customer supply chain runs smoother. Therefore we have a unique viewpoint of a multinational company supply chain.

Choosing a Courier Company

The first thing to consider is your business type and who you are selling to. If you are selling large quantities overseas, then you are looking at a national freight carrier like UPS or FedEx. If your business is local and you are focusing on a more personalized approach and next day delivery, then a local courier company will suffice. If you fall into the first bracket and will be opting for UPS or FedEx, then you need only try to get the best price possible. These companies are gigantic and have a proven record. Smaller businesses have to look at other variables when choosing a local courier company. Tracking is one such option. Does it really make sense to pay for tracking when you are delivering to an area 90 min away? Probably not. Courier companies with these services available tend to be the larger ones, and that brings us to our next area, price. You need to find a partnership that is beneficial to both parties involved. If you go to a company with an annual turnover of 100 million will they really give you their utmost attention if your budget is 10 thousand? It is something to think on.

One phrase that rings true is that it’s about the cost, not the price. Be wary of companies that are too cheap as they may be cutting corners somewhere. Anyone can argue the true cost down to the euro of a delivery, but it’s what happens when things go wrong that’s the most telling part we have noticed. What is their customer service policy in these situations? Here lies the true cost of logistics. You need to be able to reach a dedicated point of contact when things go array because as the title states delivery is becoming more and more of a focal point for customers today, so from the moment a customer calls the clock is ticking. In conclusion, by choosing to streamline your operations you relieve pressure on admin. Therefore you save time and money.

Streamlining Communication

Streamlining is only possible if channels of communication are open, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, you must handle customer complaints quickly. If there is an issue between the supplier and manufacturing you liaise immediately. Communication between distribution and the customer should be no different. I can see how having dedicated customer service agents and key account managers can have a profound effect on improving the customer experience. For example, my company’s major Christmas retail partner has decided to ramp up on customer service dramatically this year resulting in the hiring of 40 new staff members in our Cork base. We are handling a lot of the administrative work for our client and this is where we first noticed this trend of customer delivery queries.

For example, the administrative work we carry out includes editing delivery times. How do we convey to the shipping department that a customer needs their order delivered after the 12th of November because that’s when they will be back from their holidays? First of all, on the back end, we use software applications such as Salesforce and Volusion. These are CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and e-commerce shopping cart interfaces which allow us to log and make notes. For the example above we edit said notes to include the date from which the customer is available to receive their package. We save these notes so the shipping team can view them and ensure a smooth delivery. High volumes of deliveries require systems that can relay high volumes of information seamlessly between departments; Volusion and Salesforce are just some of the interfaces we work with that achieve this.

Customer Complaints

Outside of the nuts and bolts of couriers, warehouses and manufacturers lie your company image. This is the most important part of any business. To build a successful brand, brand affiliates and repeat custom you need to be there for your customers through thick and thin. According to BIA Kelsey, a repeat customer spends 67 percent more than a new customer. This is why customer retention is king in the massively competitive retail sector.

When an issue arises, you need to have a high-quality customer service team at your back. If a customers delivery has not arrived on time, some assurances need to be made. Firstly, they need to receive an apology for the inconvenience this has caused. Taking time off to wait for a package and it not arriving in the agreed upon time is no fun. Secondly, the customers’ details need to be taken in full: order numbers, names, emails, etc. Lastly, the customer needs to be assured that it is being dealt with now and that they will receive a follow-up. I know from experience that a customer left in the dark is likely to call back and this wastes everyone’s time. It relates back to communication.

From this point, admin needs to get to the root of the issue. If it is on your end you need to hold your hands up and admit it, being honest and offering free delivery at another time is much better than delaying the inevitable.

Shipping and deliveries will continue to be an area where customers vent their frustrations. If you streamline your logistics and customer supply chain, you will function better, and if you provide first-rate customer service, you will improve your brand image. When you employ these two policies in unison, it cements long-lasting customer relationships. Deliver great customer experiences!