5 Ways to Navigate Shipping Delays with Proactive Customer Service

REPOSTED Dec, 4th, 2023: As the holiday season approaches and shipping delays become more prevalent, revisiting this post on ‘5 Ways to Navigate Shipping Delays with Proactive Customer Service,’ originally posted 3/5/2021, is especially relevant. We aim to provide insights to help you manage and enhance customer experiences during this demanding time. Even though the content is from a few years ago, the tips are still important!

Five Ways to Navigate Shipping Delays with Proactive Customer Service

As I write this I am thinking, “Do as I say, not as I have been doing!” We as a company are far from perfect, but we are always looking to be better. Shipping delays and extended delivery times are never acceptable. Unfortunately they are becoming the norm.

This week (referring to the week of March 5th, 2021) in particular has been challenging at Nunn Design. I wish we could make everyone happy. We have not. This latest customer comment breaks my heart:

“I think your customer service is unacceptable and has helped me to make a difficult decision easier. This will be my final Nunn Design order. I will be clearing out my existing stock and not reordering.”

With that let us start a conversation on how we can all navigate these challenges and ultimately run successful businesses through proactive customer service.

Here are five suggestions to help navigate shipping delays while keeping your customers happy.

Listen to Audio

Click below to listen to Audio of Becky Nunn on Five Ways to Navigate Shipping Delays with Proactive Customer Service.

1. Be upfront and honest.

We could have been proactive, emailing all our customers when we first started seeing pokey service from various shipping carriers. We had been upfront and honest regarding holiday delays, but the continuing extreme weather across the country caught us off guard.

Be upfront and honest. Contact your customers. Let them know that Covid-19 and weather continue to make things nuts-o!

2. Address the issue before it is an issue.

Nunn Design customer Hope of Sugar Sidewalk states: “If a customer has to contact me first, they are likely to be more upset from the word go”.

It will be a whole lot easier to keep your customers happy if you open up a dialogue before they are cranky.

3. Involve the customer in the process.

Tracking delivery for your customers is the gold standard. Not everybody can provide this service. The next best technique is to involve them in the process:

  • Provide a link to their tracking information
  • Suggest that they sign-up to receive text and/or email notification
  • Let them know not to panic! If things just don’t arrive you will be willing to collaborate with them to find a solution.

4. Truly listen to customers concerns. Make it an opportunity to improve.

Here is how I responded to the customer that was in the process of firing us.

“I am very sorry to read about your frustration with our unacceptable customer service. I respect your difficult decision, but if you are open to it, I’d love to hear more from you on this subject.”

“Have you had customer service that is acceptable when it comes to issues with USPS and missing packages? I’d love to have the opportunity to improve our policy.”

“I would really appreciate you taking the time to educate me more. But if you are done, I respect your decision.”

5. Be gentle on yourself. Don’t take it personally.

As soon as I received the, “your customer service is unacceptable” email, I knew not to take it personally. It was a system error that needed my attention and some hard work to resolve. We aren’t perfect, but we are always striving to be a just that little bit better!

The good news is packages are arriving, just not always when we would like them to. I would like to think that shipping carriers will solve their problems sooner rather than later, but I believe the delays will continue through this year. The best strategy is to plan far in advance and build larger lead times when making commitments for delivery dates.

Did the customer fire us? I hope not. I did learn some valuable lessons that I have shared with you today so I thank her for that. Over the coming year may we all strive to be just a little bit better with each customer.

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