Finding the customers and moving them down the sales funnel are only the first steps in customer service work. Even more important is retention and building a solid customer base that will continue to make purchases from you throughout the life of your business.
Fulfillment is a key strategy in creating this customer loyalty. Every interaction that the customer has with your staff will determine whether they have a satisfactory or poor experience. How your sales representatives take their order; how quickly the product is delivered; whether the quality matches the price; and how well you handle any unexpected issues are all factors that could encourage shoppers to become repeat buyers.
Building Strong Brand Fulfillment Processes
Before developing the good processes that you already have, check if there are any areas that are lacking. Are you dealing with unreliable suppliers? Are there problems receiving and storing merchandise? Is your pick-to-order ratio not meeting warehouse order fulfillment standards? Identifying and rectifying issues should help you build a stable supply chain. However, the specific solutions will vary depending on your operations, the particular process gaps you are experiencing, and budget.
For unreliable suppliers, you may have to renegotiate contracts or select new vendors who can deliver merchandise on time. If the loading dock and stocking are tying up order fulfillment, you may have to develop new strategies. For instance, you could reschedule deliveries and shipments so that loading areas are less crowded.
If there are problems with storing inventory, picking materials or product deliveries, you may have to evaluate the layout of the warehouse and pick zones to determine more reliable and faster approaches. To help with this, you could implement automated processes or hire a third-party logistic company to manage some operations.
Enhance Customer Service
Once the problems and gaps have been addressed, you can tweak and modify processes to provide a better interactive experience. One area that could create a substantial positive impact is the customer service department. From the moment a customer places an order to follow-up calls and returns, your staff should seek to offer a completely personalized experience.
In order to provide the best service, your employees require the most up-to-date information and warehouse data. Investing in software that connects your enterprise should allow your personnel to access data efficiently from accounting, warehouse departments, suppliers and dispatchers.
Additional customer service tasks that can provide better brand fulfillment include:
• A clear and concise return policy: Many consumers won’t buy unless they know the return policy. Keep your procedures clear and concise and be available to answer any questions.
• A proactive claims department: It’s a sign of a well-run company if you can keep customers updated regarding the status of their shipments or returns. If there is a problem, don’t wait for a customer to call you; contact the buyer first to inform him or her of the issue and how you are resolving it.
• Extra incentives: To turn shoppers into loyal patrons, you could offer free shipping, personalization options or the ability to ship products as gifts.
When it comes to creating customer loyalty, your order fulfillment processes must be at the forefront of your endeavors. Evaluate and audit processes, remediate problems and provide enhanced customer service so buyers will want to return to your company time and again.
Author bio: Beau Christian is Director of Marketing at WSI, a leading third-party logistics provider that specializes in fulfillment, chemical warehousing, transloading, transportation and more. Having the 17th-largest 3PL network in the United States, spanning more than 15 million square feet, WSI delivers tailored end-to-end supply chain solutions to customers who seek to increase efficiency, shorten lead times, deliver more reliable performance and minimize costs.
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