e Fulfilment – 6 simple steps to resolve complaints

An e Fulfilment providers perspective – 6 simple steps to resolve complaints or stop them happening in the first place!

No matter what your ecommerce operations, whether you’re sending hundreds of parcels a day or just a few per month it can be extremely hard to satisfy all your clients all of the time, especially if some of your operations are out of your control regardless of whether you use an e Fulfilment provider or not.

Ultimately, there will always be a small number of complaints no matter how good you are. Although in business we all hope to receive no complaints; and try to continuously improve ourselves, there is always the chance that things might go wrong. For example, your carrier might lose your parcel or your system may have a blip where it states you have stock when you don’t.

However, not just in e Fulfilment but in any business, it’s not necessarily the action that leads to the complaint that means you lose a customer or receive bad feedback but it’s how you deal with the problem itself, the customer may end up fully satisfied and may even still recommend you to others. If you deal with the complaint correctly and if the source of the problem can be corrected it can save customers from being dissatisfied in the future.

Apart from the obvious reasons here are some statistics as to why complaints should be taken extremely seriously (even if you only receive a very, very small number of complaints):

According to a recent study (Lee Resource) for every complaint there are 26 other customers who have remained silent!

96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back1Financial Training services

A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience“Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

Whatever the complaint, no matter how big or small there are 6 simple steps to follow to ensure customer satisfaction is retained and of course it goes without saying, always remain professional never shout, swear or even lose your temper with a customer!:

1. Acknowledge the complaint

If the complaint is made in writing (by email or letter) always acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 24 hours of receiving it. If the complaint is made by phone then acknowledge that a complaint has been made immediately. Wherever possible always try to ensure that there are no phone waiting times or a separate line for existing customers. As for a customer there is nothing worse than having to wait on hold and reflect on their own complaint.

2. Make a full investigation into the complaint

no matter what the complaint and even if you think you know what led to the complaint a full investigation should be held and in a prompt manor. There may be something that you were unaware about which led to one of the factors of the complaint. By confirming to the customer that a full investigation is being made it will reassure them that you are taking them seriously and value them as a customer. As an e fulfilment provider it is imperative that you have traceability in your working processes in order to get to the root cause of the problem. For example if the wrong item was picked, if this the pickers fault, did the item have the incorrect barcode on, is the item incorrectly located etc.

3. Explain to the customer honestly how it happened

Once the investigation has been completed explain to the customer why what happened to them happened and how this differed to the norm. Never ever, ever lie to a client about a factor of their complaint, even if several mistakes have been made by you. People accept that mistakes happen and if this is the case, being honest about it often reassures the customer that you are a reputable company.

4. Confirm steps introduced to stop it happening in the future 

Although this will not affect their current experience if you confirm to the customer the steps you have introduced to stop it happening again then they are more likely to buy from you again with the reassurance that they will not have the same ordering experience.

5. Confirm what compensation will be offered

Compensation is always a difficult factor, sometimes it’s obvious but most of the time it is not. You don’t want to leave a customer thinking that they have been short changed, but then don’t want to give too much away. However it is always better to err on the side of caution especially if you have made a mistake. At the very least a customer should be compensated for costs and inconvenience caused.

6. Learn from the complaint

You should learn from every complaint and make changes where relevant. Even if you think the customer is wrong, maybe wording on your web site is not clear enough. Without this you are more likely to receive similar complaints in the future which may give you a bad reputation in certain areas. For example if you are an eBay seller and you have sent the wrong item several times to different customers this will be recorded in your feedback and although you may have corrected the situation several times customer’s tolerance for a company making the same mistake over and over again is generally low.

By partnering with an e fulfilment provider it is easier to use their expertise and current experienced systems to increase customer satisfaction. For example, bar-coding will ensure a reduction in incorrect items being sent out. Full tracking of orders being sent will reassure the client that the parcel is being sent and giving them an hour delivery slot will not only reduce missed deliveries but also increase customer satisfaction and reduce complaint.

To find out how working with an e fulfilment provider could give you freedom to fulfil your business potential please contact us.