Supply Chain Issues: How to Talk to Customers
5 minute read
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Behind every article about the global supply chain crisis lies a crowd of disappointed and frustrated customers. Pandemic-related disruptions coupled with unpredicted delays at ports and labor shortages have meant that most consumers are probably spending more time reaching out to customer service than they’d like. In the last year, the U.S. experienced the “longest sustained period of deterioration in customer satisfaction in 25 years.”
And here’s the harsh truth: The supply chain crisis is only the tip of the iceberg. Every “Where’s my order?” and “Did you raise your prices?” message contributes to a growing pile of support tickets in overworked customer support agents’ queues, which, over time, can hurt a brand’s bottom line and image, reputation, and morale.
Most businesses can’t solve global supply chain issues themselves. Brands who communicate with customers about issues related to the supply chain, and customer service teams that are empowered to handle customer needs and demands will deliver enjoyment, delight, and satisfaction.
Here’s how to prepare your own customer service team to navigate supply chain issues that impact your customers.
Communication Is Key
Consumers have learned to expect two-day shipping and convenient click-and-collect options in the last few years. Unsurprisingly, this 180-degree pivot to inflated prices, inventory shortages, and delayed deliveries has shocked most.
To turn customers’ frowns upside down, it’s crucial that across your customer support, marketing, and sales teams, everyone is working on setting customer expectations early. Proactively convey supply or fulfillment challenges across every communication channel, including item availability and delivery times. This information should be easily accessible across your social media, mobile app, and websites, such as your homepage, product pages, and global header.
Communicating the impacts of the supply chain crisis earlier doesn’t just save the support team from bearing the brunt of annoyed customers. It also lets you proactively remind customers that your brand remains committed to meeting their needs. Try to:
- Provide customers with enough information to feel like they understand the issues but are not overwhelmed since the supply chain crisis is a complicated web of interconnected economic, social, and geopolitical forces.
- Highlight what solutions you’re offering, such as a small discount on their next order to thank them for their patience.
- Keep all your communication simple, helpful, and friendly.
Prioritize the Human Connection
Today’s consumers seek convenience, empathy, and understanding more than ever. To meet these expectations, brands must transcend beyond a call center script, offering customers more personalized messaging.
A robust customer service platform can help agents solve customers’ issues quickly and readily accept potential delays. To design people-centric customer experiences, consider leveraging a customer service platform to:
- Minimize the need for repetition of details. Ideally, customer service agents should be able to access a customer’s lifelong conversation across channels.
- Route incoming queries to the best agent equipped to handle them. Treat people like people, not tickets!
- Design in-app chats that offer personalized help and reduce call volume.
Don’t Forget About Customer Aftercare
When tackling supply chain issues, strive to exceed, rather than meet, customer expectations. So, once you’ve helped out a customer, don’t forget to follow up.
To do this, ensure your customer service platform is well integrated with your inventory and fulfillment management tools. You can reach out when a delayed package has finally reached the customer’s front door. Shoot them a quick message to see whether their issue was resolved while showing them that you care about their satisfaction.
Build Customer Loyalty Early
Finally, we recommend building loyalty with customers early on and nurturing it with the right tactics, such as training customer service reps to have relationship-building conversations with customers, launching a loyalty program, or investing in community marketing. Having this trust and connection in place will go a long way in reducing customers’ annoyances or frustrations when they do inevitably arise.
While every customer may have a different concern about how supply chain issues will impact their purchase, use these tips to preempt problems and alleviate frustrations when they arise. Customers all hope for the same thing: fast, friendly, and genuinely helpful customer service.
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