Customer Experience

What to Do When a Customer Shipment Is Late

It’s the holidays, and every day counts in keeping customers happy. Here’s how to respond when a package won’t arrive in time.

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The holidays are here. With them comes the frenzied rush to find the perfect gift—and receive it in time for giving. Hard earned dollars and a lot of trust go into every purchase, as a missing package can mean awkward interactions, crying kids, or disappointed partners. If you’re selling products this holiday season and packages have gone amiss, here are proactive steps you can take to help keep customers’ trust.

Use Automated Updates

Consider implementing automated tracking. With these solutions, customers are notified when a package is sent and they’re provided a tracking number for USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another service. That way, they have a way to track the package on a self-service basis and can elect for notifications when the package is out for delivery. If an unanticipated delay occurs, customers can receive immediate notification from the shipper and follow up directly to see if alternate solutions can be made.

Offer Another Option

If a package has gone missing or won’t make it in time, consider offering another solution. For example, when a package I was expecting from a big box retailer went missing last year, their customer service offered to hold another item free of charge that I could pick up at a nearby location. It was a bit of a drive, but this simple step saved the day. Not only did it eliminate my frustration, but it turned me into a loyal fan who trusts the brand to address issues that arise. Other solutions might be a refund or shipping out a replacement at cost to the customer.

Don’t Overlook Apologies and Incentives

Issues happen, and often what customers want is the ability to simply be heard and have the impact of their experience acknowledged. Ensure that your customer service team has a script to work with unhappy customers. Train them on active listening, and ensure that phrases like “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” and “We’re taking steps to rectify the situation” are included. Depending on the purchase and the details, options might include a refund, a credit, reimbursing shipping, or giving a discount on future deals. Other incentives or offsets may be appropriate depending on the context of the issue.

High stress times are an essential part of crafting strong relationships with customers. Don’t let a holiday mishap derail a promising relationship. Instead, proactively identify shipping risks, make things right when something goes awry, and have plans in place to make it up to customers when something is wrong.