In the ideal world, every shipment would arrive as planned, and there would be no issues to deal with. But, since we don’t live in a perfect world, shipping delays are relatively commonplace. While companies try to reduce delays as much as possible, it is essential to come to terms with the fact that they will happen. So, to help you tackle this surprisingly common issue, we will explain a couple of ways to deal with delays from the customer support point of view.
The issue of delays in shipping & supply chain
If you only follow what UPS and FedEx have to say, you may believe that delays are a thing of the past. In the modern era of smart shipping technology, logistics AI and supply chain automation, it may seem that chances of delays are slim to none. But, if you spend any time dealing with shipping, you’ll realize that delays are still quite prevalent.
There isn’t a shipping company in the world that doesn’t have to deal with delays.
Some modes of transport are less prone to unforeseen delays. For example, air cargo shipping is hardly ever late. However, while air shipping works in some situations, this mode of transportation is too expensive for widespread commercial use. Therefore, even top-notch shipping companies run into issues due to human error or outside circumstances. What separates those companies from the rest is that they know how to tackle the onset delays head-on and ensure overall customer satisfaction. Keep in mind that customers, especially experienced ones, are well aware that delays can happen. And, while some will use the delay as an excuse to blow off some steam on your customer support, most will be pretty understanding and even thankful. But, it is crucial to know how to handle the delay with due care and do your best to reduce it as much as possible.
Different ways to deal with delays
When a delay happens, there are two tasks you need to handle. First, you need to notify your customer and see that they understand the issue at hand. And second, you need to find the cause of the delay and ensure that it is addressed. Handling both tasks effectively is the only way to reduce your delays and their effects to a minimum and maintain your customer base.
Talk with your customer
It is never pleasant to notify your customer about a delay. No matter what the item was, your customer was probably looking forward to it and expecting it to arrive within the set time. So, while it may seem the best to send your customer a generic email notifying them about the delay, try to avoid doing so. Instead, contact your customer on a more personal level and explain to them what happened. They might be angry at you or even furious. But, at the end of the day, they will value the fact that you took the time to personally apologize and explain the situation. This fact alone goes a long way in customer retention.
Always try to contact your customers directly to explain what is going on.
Use real-time tracking
Using real-time shipping tracking has many benefits. Not only can you ensure maximum efficiency and update your customers as they require, but you will also have a live feed on when delays happen and how long they are estimated to last. By knowing this, you will have a much easier time keeping your customers satisfied and updated. With some experience, you can even predict delays and take measures to lessen their effect on your customers. All in all, using a real-time tracking system is a must for any reliable shipping company.
Take ownership of the delay
Why is shipping taking so long? Some delays will be your companies fault. Human error, shipping issues, data entry mistakes, etc. All of these can happen. But, there will be other delays that are not your fault – poor weather, customs issues, problems with shipping carriers, etc. None of these are under your control.
Nevertheless, if a delay does happen, you need to take ownership of it. Make sure that you fully understand what happened and explain the situation to your customer. Ideally, you will try to learn something from the delay and help improve your fleet efficiency. This can mean changing your shipping carrier, sending smaller shipments, or investing in new tracking technology.
Only by taking ownership of the situation will you be able to reduce client’s friction.
Give your customer a possibility for action
When you contact your customer to notify them, it is always a good idea to provide them with some kind of power. The worst feeling that the customer will experience is the helplessness to change their situation. So, by offering them a possibility to choose or decide something, you will help them avoid this feeling. For this to be possible, you need to have different ways to help mitigate the impact of the delay. Discounts, free shipping, or extra shipping options all can help manage a stressed-out customer. The trick is to present them with different options and have them choose what suits them best. This seemingly small detail gives your customers the feeling of power, which goes a long way with customer satisfaction.
Don’t promise what you can’t fulfill
The last piece of advice we have for you is to keep your promises grounded when talking with your customers. In order to deal with shipping delays, you might feel the need to cheer your customers up with whatever means necessary. This sometimes includes offering solutions that are not possible, even with the best intentions. So, before you call your customer, make sure that you know your capabilities and what exactly you can do to help them out.
How did COVID accentuated the need of a comprehensive customer support.
Customers may become furious if their orders are delayed. Nevertheless, they will be more patient if you inform them that the delay is due to a genuine desire to keep both employees and customers safe respecting covid-19 security measures. This leaves a positive impression on your clients. You will win extra points if you inform your clients of possible delays on a pro-active way, meaning at the time they are processing their order. As we know it’s not always possible to have this level of predictability that’s why, here are some sample letters about safety during the coronavirus pandemic that you can modify to suit your business needs:
Option One: Please accept our deepest apologies for any delays or trouble this has caused. We are facing processing and delay issues as a result of new procedures and safety standards implemented as a result of Covid 19. These new standards are in place to protect both our warehouse employees and you. All of our shipping partners have likewise introduced new, more stringent safety protocols. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work diligently to protect your and our employees’ safety.
Option Two: We’ve implemented required changes to our receiving processes and inventory operations in light of COVID-19 and for the safety of our customers and employees, which has resulted in cargo delays. We’re doing everything we can to avoid any shortages, and regret for any inconvenience this has caused. We will put all our effort to ensure your order will arrive as soon as possible and we appreciate your patience and understanding.
Latest News: a shipping crisis is getting worse in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Tens of thousands of shipping containers are stuck off the coast.
Shipping delays are getting worse in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports due to increased demand for Christmas merchandise. Thousands of containers are stacked at the Californian coast.
The cargo backup is part of a crisis that has been building since 2013 — as shipping companies acquired more vessels to meet booming demand from retailers such as Amazon.com Inc., but haven’t increased the number of working berths or added labor to unload them.
According to recent reports, 62 cargo ships are waiting to dock and unload at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, compared to a typical of one to zero ships prior to the pandemic. According to Port LA, ships at the port can now wait up to three weeks while merchandise sit idle.
To help relieve the backlog, the Florida Ports Council is asking shipping companies to come to the Sunshine State instead but it is unclear when that might happen.