Communicating your Shipping & Returns Policies

There are LOTS of moving parts under the hood of a well-oiled ecommerce operation. Try as you might, unpredictable situations are bound to occur. To help customers with common questions, have your shipping and returns policies outlined on your website. In most cases, an FAQ-style page allows you to clearly state your policies in a format that customers will understand.
    
When developing this content, your customer service staff should be able to provide frequently asked questions that are specific to your business. At minimum, you’ll want to address the following general areas:

Shipment lead time

Most online customers assume that their orders ship out the same or next day. If your average lead times don't fall into that timeframe, you should explicitly state how long it takes an order to ship. Otherwise, you may see a higher number of calls from customers asking about their order status.  

Military addresses

Military destinations require customs forms for deliveries and restrict on the types of items they will accept. Plus, not all carriers deliver to military addresses. Clarify whether you ship to military addresses, which products are eligible for military delivery, the carrier used for military shipments, and any additional rules or restrictions.

Undeliverable orders

Packages can be returned as undeliverable if the address is wrong or incomplete, or if the recipient refuses to accept delivery. Make sure your customers understand that it takes time to process packages that are returned as undeliverable - which can impact how long it takes to re-ship or issue a refund.

Advantages of Customer Contact Centers

As the ecommerce industry continues to evolve, so too do approaches to customer service. For example, self-service support – where customers use FAQs, user forums, site content, or other means to solve a problem or answer a question without the assistance of customer service staff – is more popular than ever. While this approach to customer service certainly has benefits, it may be detrimental to make self-service content the sole focus of your customer service efforts.
    
Self-service content works best when it's supported by a customer contact center. The two work together – call centers provide personalized service and fill in the gaps commonly found in self-service resources. Meanwhile, self-service content lightens the load on your call center. Call centers can also provide some extra advantages over self-service content, such as:

  • Resolving order fulfillment, payment processing, and other problems not related to specific products
  • Assisting with social media engagement
  • Retaining customers who have a disappointing experience
  • Generating revenue through upsells, cross-sells, etc.
  • Providing customer feedback to management – resulting in new product and service ideas

Because of these advantages, choosing the right customer contact center is a major step in leveling up your overall customer service. To learn more about the call center services provided through Fulfillment Works, contact us today.

How to Find Opportunities for Operational Improvement

Improving the efficiency of your fulfillment operations is something you should always be striving for. Because the peaks in your annual sales cycle test the maximum capacity of your operations, these times are an excellent opportunity to identify challenges or inefficiencies. Unfortunately, this can be almost impossible to do while you're in the thick of things - even outside of peak season.

A 3PL provider is an invaluable solution to this common problem. Not only can they objectively analyze your current operations, but they can also leverage their experience to find solutions that work for your unique situation. In this blog post, we'll cover a few of the main areas your 3PL provider will investigate at the beginning of your partnership. The more data that you can provide, the better that they can help you. During your peak season when you are facing the most challenges, try to be cognizant of the following areas so your 3PL provider can learn where the best opportunities for improvement are.

Staffing

  • What are your current procedures for recruiting and training?
  • When hiring for peak season, which areas do you hire for?
  • What is the average number of staff used to accomplish different types of workloads?

Workflows

  • Are there recurring tasks that are overly complex or time-consuming?
  • When productivity drops occur, are there identifiable causes?

Warehouse layout and inventory storage

  • Are there ways to reorganize or upgrade pallet racks and storage systems to get more capacity?
  • Are there bottlenecks in your current layout that affect picking productivity?  
  • Would a new warehouse facility be a cost effective solution?