A recent New York Times article predicted that the supply chain problems are unlikely to be resolved before the end of the year because there are not enough ships, warehouses or truckers to alleviate many pain points.
High demand and labor shortages continue to tangle retail supply chains, with frustrated customers often finding empty shelves, meaning a significant and ongoing CX challenge.
Dissatisfied customers may want to go to a competitor, but there are three techniques you can use to build customer loyalty.
Connect technology to data
“It has to be your top priority right now,” said Brian Lannan, vice president of retail experience for Avtex. “Every digital touchpoint you have should accurately reflect your inventory position and real-time order fulfillment capability.”
Lannan relayed two recent examples of disconnected data and poor technology creating bad experiences:
He placed a “stock-up” order with a chain of grocery stores. The order involved different quantities of items, so he expected it to take a little while, but still thought the store would process the order at the scheduled pickup time. But five minutes after checking online, the store texted her asking her to postpone the order until the next day due to lack of staff. “I canceled the order, went to another store and shopped in person.”
With a second grocery chain, Lannan and the personal shopper spent more than 30 minutes texting each other about numerous substitutions. The store had run out of several items, but the app showed they were all available. On top of that, a bag was missing when Lannan picked up his order.
“In each of these cases, a simple technological solution would have made a huge difference in my experience,” Lannan said. “In the first instance, giving the store the ability to close new orders for the day would have saved me a lot of time. Instead, new orders kept coming in and they had to cancel them.
“In the second, the grocery store app was not meaningfully connected to its inventory system. If the app had reflected accurate inventory, I would have selected items that were actually available. The technology connected and proactive data management can go a long way in saving your customers time and relieving pressure on your employees.”
Related article: Online? At the store? Get ready for the era of phygital shopping
Communicate with your customers
“Most Americans understand at this point that supply chains are tight,” Lannan said. “What consumers want to know is what are you doing about it? do you settle if you don’t keep what you promised? »
Your loyal customers need the love the most during these times, Lannan added. If you make the most of your customer data, you know who they are, what they buy and when. If inventory is low for a customer’s favorite item, offer something different. Keep all customers informed with product information pages and on-shelf flagging of out-of-stock products, when they might be back, and what you recommend buying instead.
“Every interaction with your brand is an opportunity to reassure or cast doubt on your brand,” Lannan said. “If you manage expectations and connect your customers to a smoother future, you’ll find yourself apologizing a lot less.”
Related Article: How to Communicate Bad News to Customers
Create a proactive strategy
“Proactivity will make or break CX during supply chain issues,” said Daniel Rodriguez, Simplr CMO. “You can either let the customer know that there will likely be a shipping delay or let them know on their own through package tracking. What looks like the best CX? By being proactive, you control the message, convey transparency and honesty to build trust and show the customer that you are thinking of them at all times.
Proactive problem avoidance is going to be a hallmark tenant of strong CX programs going forward, Rodriguez added. “Data and communication channels are now available to CX teams to identify customer issues and propose solutions, all before the customer is aware of the problem. Current supply chain issues present a great opportunity for brands to put the right processes in place now, before customers expect proactive problem avoidance at any time. »
To solve a bad customer experience like product shortages, lean into where you can deliver great CX, Rodriguez recommended. “We recently found that in the food and restaurant industry, 90% of consumers who had a poor ordering experience (e.g. being served the wrong item) further increased their likelihood of repurchasing from the business after a good interaction with customer service.
“Imagine this: increased customer loyalty even after a bad experience…all thanks to great customer service. Essentially, whether it’s shipping issues or buying the wrong burger at your local burgers, customer service can save the day, even when all else fails.”
Most businesses, regardless of industry, have been hit by shortages over the past year. While it’s hard to predict when these shortages will end, you don’t have to lose customers in the meantime.
A thoughtful CX strategy that focuses on solving problems before they arise can keep your customers happy, even if you don’t have exactly what they’re looking for. By ensuring data-powered applications are up-to-date and keeping the lines of communication open, you can ride out the shortage storm and come out the other side with happy, loyal customers.