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The Top Customer Fulfillment Complaints & Ways to Resolve Them

Once upon a time, there was a company that had 100% customer satisfaction. Its customers didn’t just love its products, they loved its fulfillment – and they frequently posted positive things about it on everything from social media to Youtube’s unboxing channel.

Sound like a fairy tale? It should, because the truth is today’s customers are a tough and vocal crowd. And while some may indeed take the time to send a positive shout-out for an order that arrives on-time and with no issues, the vast majority of them are far more likely to go public about shipment snafus.

In fact most eTailers probably feel a lot like Ralphie in A Christmas Story who dreamed of getting A-plus-plus-plusses but wound up earning a dreaded C-minus instead.

So, what exactly is common for consumers to complain about?

The Top Four Customer Complaints During Holiday Peak Season

  1. Late shipments, are of course, a biggie, especially during peak season (something we’ve covered previously in this series). 
  2. So is improper product-box alignment. After all, who among us hasn’t seen a vitriolic Facebook post or Tweet from a friend who has received something like a ballpoint pin in a box that could easily have housed a small village, complete with photos? (We like to think of this particular practice as “Box Shaming.”)
  3. Shoppers aren’t bullish on high shipping prices either, although you’re more likely to see that complaint reflected in the rate of shopping cart abandonment on your company’s web site rather than social media rants.
  4. And don’t even get us started on how much they detest a cumbersome or costly returns process, which is something we’ll cover in tomorrow’s post.

Just like no one can say exactly how the Grinch became who he is, there’s probably no one reason why customers got so (ahem) particular. However, here at Verst, we can think of any number of ways you can do a better job of staying on their good side.

Four Tips to Address and Resolve Customer Complaints

  1. First and foremost, do everything in your power to make the customer shipping and receiving experience a positive one the first time around by taking advantage of many of the best practices we’ve mentioned earlier in this blog series. While it may cost you a little more to employ some of these practices (especially if it involves making investments in additional technology), it will save you considerable time and money in the long run, because you’ll retain more sales and spend less money fielding customer calls and handling returns.
  2. Second, be prepared to occasionally take a loss for the team. For example, if you’ve shipped the wrong product and your customer calls to let you know, consider letting that customer keep that mis-shipped product at no charge as a thanks for their inconvenience. Then ship them the product they actually purchased at no extra charge – via expedited means to ensure it still arrives on time if necessary.
  3. Third, take the time to address and come clean about potential shipping issues as soon as you know about them. Although a customer may not be happy to know a shipment is going delayed, they’ll be a lot happier to hear about it sooner rather than later – because the extra notice may enable them to make alternate plans.
  4. Finally master the art of the apology. In addition to making sure your customer service reps are trained in various gracious ways to say they’re sorry on behalf of your company, map out some additional way you can make each customer feel like you’re genuinely regretful for the negative experience they had. Depending on the size of a customer’s purchase, that could involve something as simple (but economical) as sending a follow-up apology letter or card or something as thoughtful as sending a $5 gift card to their favorite coffee shop or offering them a more-substantial-than-usual discount on their next purchase with your company. Such things will create additional expense to your company, to be sure. But in most cases that additional expense is far less than require to replace each customer.

Talk to Us to Help Resolve Your Customer Complaints

As always, there’s far more we could – and would love – to say about this timely topic. But rumor has it there are holiday cookies in the breakroom and that our pick line professionals will pick the selection clean if we don’t hurry up and get there, so we’ll sign off for now.

We’ll be holding good thoughts for you as you get through these last days of peak season 2019, and we’re looking

Ask the Experts


Read other blog posts from this 12-part series entitled "The 12 Days of Peak Season":

Day 1 of 12: Some Shoppers Who Wanted Shipping Free (The Problem Of Low-Cost Shipping)

Day 2 of 12: Two Urgent Moves (The Challenge Of Fast Holiday Shipping)

Day 3 of 12: Three Missed Bins (The Problem Of Inaccurately Filled Orders)

Day 4 of 12: Four Appalling Words (The Challenge Of Late Or Delayed Shipments)

Day 5 of 12: Five Broken Things (The Problem Of Damaged Shipments)

Day 6 of 12: Six Trucks Delaying (Shipping Delays & Dock Congestion)

Day 7 of 12: Seven Systems Slowing - (IT's Role in Inventory Management)

Day 8 of 12: Eight Costs A-Growing (Rising Fulfillment Fees)

Day 9 of 12: Nine Places Snowing (How to Avoid Holiday Shipping Delays)

Day 10 of 12: Ten Ads A-Hyping (A Guide to Handle Flash Sales)

Fulfillment, Peak Season

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