Businesses that grow, often find themselves in the position of making the transition between in-house warehousing, to delegating that portion of their business to a fulfillment company. They will partner with a fulfillment company that will handle staffing; warehousing and order fulfillment at their facility, dealing with the customer to make sure, the product arrives on time and in excellent condition.
What If Something Goes Wrong?
Products that are shipped directly to the customer are expected to arrive on time and in good condition. What happens if there is a problem? I recently purchased an outdoor living set from a retailer. After laying out all the pieces, we noticed that one of the chairs legs and arms did not align properly. It was obvious that they were of another set. We tried to figure out how to make it work, but it was just not possible. We called the store, to see if they had another one so we could just switch the chairs rather than take the whole set back. They were sold out. They told us to call the number on the paper work and tell them the problem. We did call, and were given an email address to send the information. Doing as we were told, we submitted the information, but they replied that we should talk to the store we purchased it from. So back to the store once again, which said contact the main company again. Long story short, we never got anyone to address the problem, or even acknowledge that a problem even existed. Will we ever buy that product again? Absolutely not because they failed to address our problem.
Who Is Responsible?
Ultimately, it all comes down the owner of the store. Bad service, whether it stems from the store or the fulfillment company working for the store, if a customer is unhappy, it is reflected back on the store with lost revenue and a potential for future revenue. Businesses can work closely with the fulfillment company to develop a system of handling complaints, and handling them in a timely manner. Customers understand that mistakes will occasionally happen, but dealing with the issues quickly and resolving the issues, will make the error into a positive experience. There should be a clear and defined process to handle problems. Both the business and the fulfillment company need to agree how each situation will be handled. A customer should not be responsible for working back and forth between the two.
Good Experiences Make Good Customers
When customers are treated well, they become repeat customers. Happy customers love to tell others about their happy endings. Miss the boat, and those same customers will blast you all over the media with negative reviews. And if you are a fulfillment company, when your customer talks to other businesses, they will remember the service you gave or didn’t give to their customer and will review you accordingly.
Avoiding errors in the first place is the best plan, but when they happen, deal with the problem as if your cash flow depended on it. It just might.
Guest blog written by Sam Souvall, President of Anchor 3PL, a full scale third party logistics company based in Utah.