Last week, for my birthday, my lovely wife decided to order me a jumper from one of my favourite brands. Nothing too extraordinary there. Except that this jumper then appeared to disappear off the face of the earth. Despite frequent calls and questions to the customer service team over what ‘pending’ meant on the order status, she was left without answers. And I was left without my jumper.
Okay, mistakes happen. It’s completely unreasonable to expect a 100% customer satisfaction rate in any line of work. Ordering systems can jam. Customer sizing and colour requests can be lost in communication. Your delivery service could be hijacked by wool bandits (we all know how often things can “fall off the back of a lorry” right?). That is just something you deal with as service providers. But why, oh why, don’t you work out a clear process for working out what has gone wrong when passing that information onto the consumer?
There are few things more frustrating than a copy and paste response – “We are sorry you are dissatisfied with your order” – to a genuine question. Where is my product? Will I receive it? Is it still in stock? Has it been sent? You should have the channels in place for this to be communicated swiftly with the customer. You should be able to get on the phone to your suppliers or your distributors and find out. An impersonal response, however polite, will never be the right one. Why? Because you are asking someone to pay their hard-earned money for your goods or services. Because, from relying on you to deliver a birthday gift to someone they care about to preparing their coffee order how they want it, the customer experience is about as personal as it gets.
Ensure that your communications team has a direct link to all aspects of your shipping and warehouse channels. That shouldn’t be an afterthought. If they can, human to human, establish what the hold-up is in warehouse 1092 or order X9281FS, then you can deliver that information to your customer and give them some timeframe or solution in the same phone call. Apologies won’t carry any weight unless you’re prepared to offer a solution or way forward.
If you’ve really, really screwed up – let’s say, for example, delivering an incorrectly spelt birthday cake – recognise that “sorry for any inconvenience caused” isn’t going to be anywhere near enough of an apology. At the very least you should be offering an explanation. Find out what has gone wrong and how quickly you can correct the order as soon as you can. Never wait to be told what to do by the customer: that’s not their job, it’s yours. My wife wasn’t offered any explanation by the brand in question nor any incentive to order an alternative product.
Your customer, at the end of it all, pays your bills. Treat them well and ensure that the case of the disappearing jumper doesn’t result in lost revenue.