A guest post from our friends at EasyPost, whose Shipping API solves complex logistics problems for online merchants.
Customer service is at the forefront of many businesses’ plans of attack and for good reason. Curating an enjoyable experience for your customers can be the difference between a one-time purchase and a loyal, repeat customer.
Think of the last time you had a sub-par interaction with a company. Maybe the barista at the coffee shop accidentally gave you the wrong coffee order or the item you ordered online arrived in the wrong size. Mistakes happen to the best of any business but seamless customer service can smooth over the issue and leave you with a different appreciation for the company.
Some of the most powerful customer service strategies include skills such as empathy, patience, clear communication, and the proper customer service tools, to name a few. Good customer service entails always being one step ahead of the customer and proactively working to ensure their questions are answered and their needs are met.
Excellent customer service isn’t optional, it’s mandatory to survive in today’s market. And while you may think of shipping and logistics as a necessary evil when it comes to running your business, a successful, hassle-free shipping strategy can make a world of difference in your customer service strategy.
We’ve outlined only a few examples of how shipping and customer service are more intertwined than you may think.
Consistent communication with the customer
From the moment your customer clicks “submit purchase,” they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their package. In shipping and logistics, open communication with the customer at every point of the parcel’s journey can provide peace of mind. This is where a tracking API can prove beneficial as it provides real-time updates for your customers and eliminates the question “where is my package?”
Think of shipping as another touchpoint to interact with your customers and prove to them that you care about the successful delivery of their package as much as they do. Send alerts via email when the order is confirmed, ping them again when the package has shipped, and provide them with the tracking number so they can follow the journey of their package until it safely reaches them.
In the case that there are any delays or changes in the delivery timeline, ensure that your customer is in the know so they can adjust their expectations accordingly. There’s nothing worse than anticipating the arrival of a package only to realise there are significant delays, and that you weren’t alerted.
Accuracy and quality
The transactional aspect of your business is another opportunity to impress your customers. Although it may seem simple, selecting and packaging the right product when an order is placed is reflective of customer service. Customers will undoubtedly feel let down and frustrated if they open a package that contains the incorrect item.
The fulfillment process begins as soon as the order is placed. Typically, the fulfillment process includes aspects such as supply chain management, inventory management, order processing, and quality control. Many businesses also transition into the use of third-party logistics (3PLs) when the in-house fulfillment process becomes too overwhelming.
The right 3PL can handle your inventory management, warehousing, and fulfillment needs. Their technology allows them to package boxes quickly, accurately, and efficiently, all of which your customer will appreciate.
As your 3PL helps organise and send packages on the back-end, this gives you additional time and resources to focus on other areas of your business.
Speed and cost of service
How quickly you can cater to your customers’ needs is another important aspect of top-notch customer service. Choosing the right combination of shipping carriers can make the shipping process both affordable and fast for your customers. After all, most customers don’t want to pay a premium to receive their packages and expect deliveries to be made in a timely manner.
This is where a diverse carrier mix through a multi-carrier shipping API can directly benefit your business regardless of its size, as it can give you access to many carriers in a single integration. Rather than having your internal team of developers integrate with carriers individually, they’ll only need to integrate with a single API. This also means that your team won’t have to worry about building and maintaining a relationship with carriers, keeping up with ongoing and changing carrier compliance, or optimising shipping routes.
Regional carriers are becoming increasingly popular for their lower costs, faster delivery times, and customisable delivery options. If you haven’t already explored regional carriers and how they can speed up delivery times while reducing costs, consider doing so as we head into the thick of peak shipping season.
Post-delivery customer service
Customer service doesn’t end when the customer receives his or her package. Returns and exchanges should be as simple as possible; consider including a prepaid shipping label in the case that a return or exchange is necessary. You can also follow up with the customer to see how they are enjoying their new purchase or send them a special discount code as a “thank you.”
Establishing an effortless returns process in combination with a brief follow-up shows your customer that you genuinely care about their experience with your products and that you’re willing to make things right if necessary.
Customer service is more important than ever as we head into peak season
Q4 is quickly approaching and this means your customers will be on high alert for packages delivered on time. Peak shipping season has already begun and it’s imperative that you have a sound shipping strategy in place to meet (and surpass) your customers’ expectations. Without a reliable and cost-effective shipping strategy, customers won’t be able to experience your products or make repeat purchases.
Logistics customer support is an opportunity to wow your customers and keep them coming back for more purchases in the future. Don’t rush into partnering with just any shipping provider. Instead, be mindful of your decision and find a shipping partner that is reliable, flexible, and scalable to cater to your shipping needs.
Shipping is here to stay and it is one of the first and last opportunities to interact with your customers. Invest in the right shipping partner and experience the world of difference it can make across all areas of your business.
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