Most online sellers, distributors, manufactures, retailers work extremely hard to create the best shopping experience in order to develop a loyal customer base. Friendly sales team, great selection, competitive prices, and on-time delivery all help with the point of sale, but a big piece in continuing the customer experience is shipping.
Look more closely at customer interactions with your business and you might notice that your shipping team does more to engage, support, interact with, and assist customers than almost anywhere else in the company. Shipping personnel actually put products in packages that customers will see/touch next, can affect or make the decisions about which carriers to use/cost/timing, physically send packages on through carriers, send tracking emails, provide paperwork/labels that customers see, respond to inquiries. Rinse and repeat, for hundreds of shipments, for all of your customers, every day. That’s a lot of activity, a lot of customer experiencing, so how do we leverage it to support our vision for excellence and keep improving our relationships?
Read on for more ideas on better customer service from shipping …
With the continued explosive growth of ecommerce sales, leaner inventories, and more customer-driven deadlines, shipping costs and choices are often front and center in most online and phone sales processes. Shipping cost is one of the largest order abandon rate reasons year-after-year but once a buyer moves past that objection, the order is captured, and it moves on into fulfillment — what next to keep the experience positive while getting the job done? We’d suggest focusing on five goals.
Make is easy to do business with you.
This sounds like a very old mantra but it holds as strongly today as ever that hustle outpaces other techniques you might use to build loyalty. Simply moving quickly and effectively, providing clear and accurate information, and following through with commitments can make all the difference. Some key items to check in your operations include:
- Are you quickly providing shipping options with cost, timing, service choices?
- Is there consistency and choice for phone and online quoting of shipping options and cost?
- Can customer service easily upgrade shipping services and communicate the cost?
- Does customer service know when and how to change freight terms so you’ll pay for shipping?
- Can customers easily charge shipping costs to their carrier accounts to save money?
- Can you easily record shipping services like notification, lift gate, residential service?
- Can special instructions be easily attached to orders and made visible in paperwork?
Use tools to make decisions that increase customer value.
Sometimes rate shopping is not about saving you money but it’s about finding a better value for customers to reduce their total costs for your product. If you can save customers $1 on shipping then that's another $1 they can spend on your products. A few things to check in your operations:
- Are you offering enough carrier choices to help customers reduce their costs?
- Are you or can you rate-shop various carrier options to find the best value for customers?
- Accurately quoting shipping costs upfront so there are no surprises in actual costs?
- Automatically correcting customer addresses, detecting residential so quotes are accurate?
- Are you in compliance with customer requests on paperwork, labels, carrier reference fields?
Help customers help themselves.
Nobody likes to wait in a phone queue, online in a chat room, or otherwise spend their time waiting for information, answers or help. Thank the consumer-driven, online experience for driving home the value of automated, self-service, at-your-call information resources, but that’s where we are at today. Some things you can check to “score” your own self-service capabilities:
- Do customers get a branded email from you for each shipment with full contents and tracking detail?
- Are your customer service web site links, phone, email and other details clearly visible?
- Can customers easily search and track shipments online by order#, po#, date, other detail?
- Do you provide return label options to make it easier for customers if something goes wrong?
- Do you provide enough detail on packing lists and labels for customers to see and track easily?
Communicate the ways you help customers through shipping.
Communications from shipping most often means an email confirmation of an order or a shipment but it really should also encompass communication across your company. Everyone needs to be on the same page and empowered to understand (and communicate) shipping-related information and details. Some things you can check in your operations:
- Do your branded email confirmations include notifications of service changes, offers or other helpful details?
- Do you copy email communications to customer service teams so they know of shipments?
- Are there special tracking situations where you proactively check with customers of receipt?
- Do customers know how to refuse a damaged shipments so carriers return it and you re-ship?
- Do you communicate shipping policies, services, and options on a regular basis to all?
Look for ways to add special services or support.
Adding special services or support might mean additional costs, whether they can or cannot be passed on to customers. Sometimes the cost is not worth the trade-off but other times the loyalty you enlist can help secure the next order. Some examples to consider:
- Do you offer extended delivery days or services such as Saturday delivery ?
- Can you help track high-value or expensive deliveries to help confirm customer receipt ?
- Would your customers like automatically emailed documents like a bill of lading ?
- Would an end of month shipping summary report for customers be of value to them ?
- Would customers consider expedited, regional carriers to lower their delivery costs ?
Are you a shipper looking for ways to improve the customer experience?
We're here to help. Contact Pacejet at 877-722-3538 or send us an email.