If you have a business that ships packages on a daily basis, chances are you’re using the United States Postal Service (USPS), atleast for some of your packages. Even when your business uses carriers such as Fedex or UPS, they also have many services that go through USPS such as UPS SmartPost or Fedex SmartPost.
As of late, as I’m sure you’ve heard in the news (if you haven’t, you really do live under a rock,) USPS has announced delays with mail delivery. This has really put all business, more specifically small business in a real bind with customers and the overall health of their business.
As e-commerce businesses, shipping & fulfillment is an essential part of our business. The postal service, along with any other carrier you use is a real partner of your business. If you can’t deliver the product you are selling, you will face a world of hurt.
Think about how this affects even individuals who depend on the postal service to fulfill orders they sell through third party platforms such as Amazon & eBay. Metrics by these platforms have a low tolerance for late shipments as you know if you sell on these platforms. A few late orders, and the algorithm will suspend your account…and…you’re out of business.
PERSONAL SIDE NOTE: This is why I have always stressed to any individual building businesses on third party platforms that anything can happen, and these platforms will wipe you out from one day to the next. Be in control of your own destiny….as much as you probably can at least.
First-class mail and Priority mail are two services that millions upon millions of business in the United States use to ship mail to customers due to their price, moreso on the first-class pieces. In the third quarter of 2020, 1.1 billion pieces of first-class mail were delivered.
HOW IS THIS AFFECTING E-COMMERCE BUSINESSES?
As of late, USPS is experiencing serious delays with delivering mail through rerouting packages and other issues. We aren’t talking about days, we’re talking about weeks.
If you use USPS, you’re already seeing it, I’m sure.
“Where is my order?” “What is going on with my order?” “Why is this happening?” “Is this a scam?” “I need my order now” “Please re-ship my order.”
These are all customer service issues we have to deal with. Worst of all, the experience we work so hard to provide the customer in their journey with our business and brand is being really hurt and tested right now. As I said before, this is specially challenging for small business who can’t bear the cost of re-shipments, etc. This is challenging for all businesses.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THIS TO PROVIDE BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE AND EASE MY CUSTOMERS?
While this is extremely challenging and not your businesses fault, this is happening and it’s your job to step up and make sure your customers understand what’s going on.
I will provide some suggestions for you that I personally use that I know to be effective and can go a long way in which I believe is always the best strategy when it comes to customer service and support: BE PROACTIVE.
These tips are to set expectations with customers so you are making them aware of possible delivery delays to lessen the chance of a negative customer experience.
TIP #1: EMAIL POST PURCHASE
Once your customer places an order, you can can either add a note on the receipt email letting them know of USPS delays and to be patient or you can send out another email within a minute to 5 minutes post receipt email with an UPDATE subject line explaining USPS delivery delays and how it MAY affect their order.
TIP #2: POP-UP ANNOUNCEMENT OR NAVIGATIONAL BAR ANNOUNCEMENT
These are great placements on your website to make an announcement on delivery delays. While it may seem ‘annoying’ to customers, the fact is you’re letting them know ahead of time what to expect.
TIP #3: POST-PURCHASE SMS MESSAGE
Communicate with your customer via SMS text to let them know their order is being shipped and if shipping through USPS, there may be possible delays in the delivery of their order.
TIP #4: OFFER DIFFERENT CARRIER SERVICES SUCH AS FEDEX & UPS THAT DON’T GO THROUGH THE POSTAL SERVICE
This may be a good time to offer different upgraded services from UPS or Fedex that don’t get handed off through the postal service. As I said at the beginning of the post, UPS SmartPost or Fedex Mail Innovations are ‘cheaper’ services offered that actually use USPS for mail delivery. You can offer higher end services from UPS or FEDEX to your customers. You can set-up live rates or charge flat fees but giving that option to customers can go a long way in having them decide what carrier to go through.
In my experience, being proactive can go a very long way in providing a great customer experience and setting the right expectations for your customers.