Many business owners are exploring third party fulfillment and off-site customer service options to streamline their operations. Relinquishing total control is nerve-wracking for small business owners who often worry their customer retention rates will drop. While some trepidation is understandable, there are companies worth examining that can put your mind at ease. Companies like Fifth Gear that provide order fulfillment have developed logistically sound “pick and pack” procedures that guarantee orders are shipped on schedule and arrive when expected.

Providing superior customer care revolves around a number of equally important factors. According to Kim Durant of Demand Media, understanding what drives customers to return is vital to providing what they need. He lists four things customers are seeking.

Convenience:

Consumers often return because they don’t want to expend the energy to look for another vendor. Automated shipping is perfectly designed to meet this type of customer need. Auto-ship programs offer a platform to build loyalty through rewards and discounts that encourage repeat business. Shipping dates are coordinated to ensure the end user never runs out of product before the next shipment arrives. Delivery signature and follow up calls confirm acceptance.

Loyalty:

Customer loyalty programs that incorporate discounts and free items as rewards bolster retention rates. Adding shared values or common interests strengthens customer relationships. Adding options to donate to a charity or non-profit during the checkout process (and corporate matching) assures clients the commitment is mutual.

Product Satisfaction:

Customers want a product that is constructed with high-quality materials and workmanship. They expect their purchases to arrive in excellent condition. Third party fulfillment houses that use appropriate shipping containers and packing material demonstrate a strong commitment to product integrity.

Customer Service:

Customer service providers face challenges of providing superior solutions to customer complaints, training consumers how to use products safely and properly, and maintaining brand integrity through customer contact.

Virtual call centers staff professional agents that assume the role as an extension of your business. These agents may facilitate relationship building through telephone contact or direct mail follow up to ensure satisfaction. Providing email, telephone and live chat options gives clients service on their terms—when they need it most. Dan Coen, VP of call centers for CallSource, says you should avoid centers that are narrowly focused because they can’t scale when the time comes.

Understanding what customers want gives business owners a clearer picture of what to expect from a third party provider. Peace of mind comes from collaborating with a service provider that takes the time to get to know your brand and your products, and then provides efficacious tools and solutions for your customers.

Outsourcing for Success:

There are many reasons to consider outsourcing some of your operational duties. Order fulfillment can lead to a higher level of customer satisfaction. More efficient ordering and delivery systems build customer loyalty and drive repeat sales. Streamlined operations reduce operating costs. Comprehensive reporting provides tool for modifying marketing strategies.

Look for a company that offers solutions designed to allay your fears about outsourcing. Consider the following necessities for fulfillment merchants.

  • Your online catalog should be complete with professional quality product photographs and descriptions.
  • Customer care agents should be thoroughly trained to provide information and solutions “off-script” when necessary to respond to customer inquiries and comments.
  • Real-time reporting features should allow you to “oversee” the operations from your office.
  • Services should provide cost saving features that reduce expenses and streamline order processing and delivery.
  • Systems must be flexible to add or remove inventory as your business expands.

Experiencing some concerns about turning your order and fulfillment over to another company is natural. Finding a company that offers logistically sound solutions for your clients should put your mind at ease. Working with a company that strives to match your enthusiasm and commitment to customers is vital to forming a successful outsourcing relationship