4 Strategic Steps to Manage Supply Chain Shortages and Improve the Customer Experience
Supply chain shortages and disruptions can happen anywhere, anytime, no matter the source. Whether originating from the factory workforce, machinery failure, elevated demand, or breakdowns in transport logistics, the result is the same for producers and customers: an undesirable impact on product availability, cost or both.
It’s unlikely that the pre-holiday-season supply chain shortage will be ending soon. This is the sort of situation that creates a less than ideal and frustrating beginning to the holiday season, especially for retailers and consumers. What’s more, a temporary drop in earnings can quickly lead to financial stress. This negative feedback loop generated by supply chain shortages creates additional inquiries for staff to monitor, additional complaints to handle and ultimately, the loss of customers due to frustration and disappointment. Here are 4 tips to help you take control of your customer experience during the supply chain shortage of 2021.
1. Communicate Effectively
To avoid additional costs and create a climate of trust between your company and customers, the first priority is to keep customers up to date well in advance of a crippling shortage and to task appropriate teams with managing those conversations. We recommend the use of SMS because of its ability to reach almost 100% of customers.
SMS allows the brand to maintain control of data and budget and for customers, doesn’t restrict communication or add to voice contact volumes and guarantees a simple and straightforward means of contacting the company through a centralized and continuous conversational link. Conversational SMS avoids repeat calls, improves satisfaction scores by 30% to 50% and reduces processing time by 5% to 15% thanks to the built-in contextualization it provides.
2. Anticipate Perceptively
An out-of-stock product can prompt the full range of customer reactions, but it’s up to the brand to initiate communication and manage the resolution pathway. That could mean offering the customer the option to wait, cancel, switch to an alternative product or consolidate several deliveries together.
Coupling an agile self-service channel with conversational SMS enables your brand to position and prove itself as a proactive force intervening on behalf of its customers with practical and timely solutions, rather than a passive observer at the mercy of market conditions.
3. Equip Intelligently
Even when a brand directs its customers through clearly communicated resolution pathways, it must still anticipate an influx of inquiries, information requests and complaints.
Each additional demand on operational bandwidth requires prioritization, whether it be by type of customer, urgency, scenario, history, value, etc. Traditional tools are generally not well-equipped to process such a large amount of information and if they are, they often encounter visibility and slowdown issues. Neither are they designed to provide operations management with dashboards that enable better decision making through at-a-glance overviews of backlog, deadline adherence, processing time and so on. This kind of overview is key to determining priorities and putting energy and effort where they bring the greatest returns. Automate efficiently, automation is essential to maximizing cost control and processing time improvements.
4. Automate Efficiently
Automation is essential to maximizing cost control and processing time improvements. Options include adding chatbots to the conversational journey, better management of back-office workflows, integration of self-service journeys, intelligent task distribution methods and robotic process automation (RPA) deployments to handle repetitive or administrative actions.
It’s true that automation generally requires an initial investment. This is why it’s important to examine different solutions, balance deployment time against the permanence of issues solved and evaluate the cost in relation to possible and probable savings.
Putting these points into practice means adopting an agile and adaptable operational approach. With 40+ years of expertise in customer experience management, our team can support you in building a system that is perfectly adapted to your unique business needs, tools and customer requirements. Our solutions can help orchestrate your operation, offer intelligently automated workflow management and link those workflows to your customer conversations.
Don’t let your teams get overwhelmed by supply chain shortages and issues. Give them the means to deal with out-of-stock situations. Contact us to find out how our approach produces better returns for you and your customers.