By Brian Hodgson, Oz Development Inc.
It’s common knowledge that customer service can either make or break your operation. Customers who have a bad experience might never come back to purchase something. But if you can exceed a customer’s expectations, not only will they be loyal, but they will most likely tell their colleagues and friends about you. And there’s no question that word of mouth is the best way to grow your ecommerce business.
Everyone knows you need to get the fundamentals right: ship the products that were ordered, offer economical shipping service options and provide tracking information. These are expected. However, there are two techniques that you’ve probably overlooked that can both improve customer satisfaction and save you money: (1) address validation and (2) batch tracking.
Address validation is typically used to minimize the shipping costs associated with invalid shipping addresses, or to determine if the shipment is residential. But these aren’t the only benefits of address validation. I recently ordered a gift for my brother, but couldn’t remember his zip code. The web site automatically filled in the zip code based on the address I completed. It was subtle, and not traditional address validation, but it saved me time and left me with a more positive experience.
In a commercial environment, verifying the complete address, including the building number, suite, or ATTN line, can ensure the delivery gets to the correct destination in the timeliest fashion. Ideally, address validation should be implemented as early in the process as possible – on the ecommerce site or at order entry. If there are multiple sales channels, a batch process can be run on all new orders in the ERP system, flagging which ones are ambiguous and need attention.
Batch tracking allows you be pro-active as opposed to only responding when customers complain. Most warehouses are diligent when it comes to measuring their order cycles, providing the customer with a tracking number and “outsourcing” the monitoring of delivery to the customer. But what happens when there are delivery issues? Typically, it’s the customer who is the first to identify the problem. The warehouse employees are only reacting to the complication – not monitoring for it. Setting up a batch process that tracks undelivered shipments can provide the visibility needed to appease an unhappy customer. Think about how much more satisfied a customer would feel if you called them to tell them of a delay before they were even aware of it, or even better, sent a new expedited shipment to meet their needs. Alternatively, you could send a text message to confirm delivery. This notification system can be carried out based upon the priority of the order or level of customer, providing premium services to valued customers.
Investing in increased automation not only drives down the cost of the order management process, but also boosts your customer service through efficiency and greater visibility. It frees up your customer care personnel and enables them to focus on serving customers, rather than performing clerical tasks – and that’s a win-win for everyone.