Customers don’t care about your problems!

“The system is down. We cannot ship customer orders. We’re not sure when the system will be back up.” Oh no…customers don’t care about this stuff.

The coming of the holidays, the busiest time of the year, is the last thing I wanted to hear.

I thought about it and said, “The customer doesn’t care.

From that point forward, we have gathered the necessary resources and transparency to resolve the issue quickly. But the message was clear: The customer doesn’t care about our internal problems.

Customers

Ecommerce customers are very clear in their actions and reactions. They will go to your competitors as quick as a click if they have had a bad experience with your business. Not only will your customers leave you, but they will also tell others about their bad experiences. This is especially effective with the power of social media. And other customers will leave you AND potential customers won’t even give you a chance.

The customer experience spans the entire sales cycle. From the moment a customer visits your website, places an order, enters their personal information, receives shipping updates and notifications, takes their order, and (if necessary) completes your returns process, you need to ensure your processes and systems are robust enough to provide a positive customer experience.

So it’s always appropriate to remember that customers don’t care about your company’s internal problems. Whether your IT system is down, your equipment is down for maintenance, trucks are late or you have run out of product, your CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE.

Getting this message across is critical to creating a customer-centric culture. Whenever someone tells you about an issue affecting your customers without a plan to address it, you need to remember the mantra that “customers don’t care about your internal problems.”

With this in mind, it is reasonable to take the necessary steps to mitigate, if not eliminate, any factors that could affect your ability to meet your obligations to your customers. And this is stretched to the limit and beyond during the holiday season, the busiest time of the year.

Here are some of the areas to review to ensure customer readiness. Remember, customers don’t care about your internal problems.

Reception

If you cannot physically and systemically receive the product at your distribution center, chances are it will not show up as available for sale. Does your incoming goods process have enough capacity to handle the dramatically higher volumes leading up to the holiday season? You don’t want unreceived goods sitting in trailers outside your facility because you don’t have the capacity to receive them.

systems

Their systems must handle the dramatically increased volume of transactional activity that occurs during peak seasons. Additionally, you need to have backups and redundancy in place so you can quickly get your systems up and running again. A failure of your system for just a few minutes can result in the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of orders.

This includes all of your systems including your order management system, warehouse management system, transportation management system, enterprise resource planning system, and financial management system.

staffing

During the busiest time of the year, everyone is trying to recruit temp workers to support the higher seasonal volume. This is also the time of year when your employees need to be at their most productive.

Your HR team must have dedicated people and processes in place to quickly recruit, screen, and hire large numbers of employees. You also need to train these new employees quickly and efficiently. And finally, if you can’t keep all of those employees, you need to hire and train even more employees. Without this staffing, you likely won’t have the manpower to process all of your customer orders.

If you need to run multiple shifts a day or seven days a week, you’ll want to make sure you’re building the right infrastructure to support it. This means that the appropriate level of management, monitoring and support services are in place across all shifts and every day. Do you intend to fill a night shift entirely with temporary workers, all newly hired and recently trained? You will most likely have an extremely unproductive shift, wasting both time and money.

Processing

Your distribution center has many different operations. Those operations that involve equipment (e.g. sorting, labeling, transporting) must have the capacity to handle the peak volume. Do you offer gift wrapping or any form of packaging personalization? Do you have enough of this equipment to meet the higher demand? Also, you need to know that this device requires regular, if not more frequent, maintenance. Forgoing maintenance during the busiest time of year can be a recipe for increased downtime and lost capacity.

It’s also important to test the quality controls in your process, especially with the number of new employees filling customer orders. If a customer receives a damaged product or the wrong quantity of product, you’ve ruined an otherwise good customer experience.

transport

For your incoming goods, you must make arrangements to ensure that the goods continue to reach you. If you’re shipping goods by sea and your port of call is closed due to a dockers’ strike, you still need to get your goods. You can always ship by air, but this can be an extremely expensive proposition.

During the holiday season, all freight forwarders are extremely busy. They process an unprecedented number of packages each year that accompanies the e-commerce boom. You must ensure that you have cooperated with your carriers. Show them your forecasts and secure the capacity you need in advance. In addition, you must ensure that the cut-off times for collecting customer packages at your facility are strictly adhered to by your operations and your shipping partners.

You also need to consider what to do when there are delays caused by weather, which can be common in winter.

And you need to know your cut-off times for promises to customers. If you accept orders on December 22nd, can you ensure that your customers receive their packages before Christmas? If not, you need to make sure you set a realistic deadline. Christmas isn’t when you want to disappoint a customer because your package didn’t get under their Christmas tree on time.

product supply

One issue you need to address is making sure your system can’t take more orders than you have products. This can be especially difficult during Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday. Orders are coming in at an alarming rate. It is better to test this issue now. It’s a lot easier than having to call a customer to tell them you can’t fulfill the order you just took from them.

It’s also important to ensure your promotional plans are fully visible across the organization. In the excitement of the holiday season, your marketing team may be planning all sorts of last-minute deals. But if your distribution center and supply chain teams aren’t aware of these promotions, they’ll be caught flat-footed when it comes to fulfilling those orders quickly.

Customer service

The customer service team or call center is an essential part of the operation. They process all customer requests in real time. I admire people in these positions. You often have to deal with volatile and delicate situations. Yet they remain patient as they work to solve the customer’s problem.

During the holiday season, you need to make sure your customer service team is properly staffed and trained. Especially given the higher transaction activity. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than calling customer service only to find that the person on the other end doesn’t know how to help.

Customers don’t care

Overall, it’s always a good idea to stress test your system, processes, and people. Run a simulation of Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday ahead of those days. Flush out any problems and give yourself extra time to take preventative measures and contingencies.

If I hear someone tell me about an internal problem that will affect a customer, I tell that person to call the customer personally and tell them the problem. If they look at me and don’t know if I mean it, I’ll tell them what they’ll hear from the customer: Customers don’t care!

Originally published March 23, 2017.

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