In 2020 about 56% of global retailers faced moderate production chain disruptions. More than 58% of suppliers said it had some detrimental effect on their operations. The echoes of supply chain disruptions are still felt to this day. Among the most infamous are:
These shortages raise a question: how to deal with them and how to speak to the customers, who are waiting for their delayed orders?
What are the risks of the disruptions and how to deal with the customers in these uncertain times?
In this article, we'll cover:
What Are Supply Chain Disruptions?
Supply chain disruptions are breakdowns or roadblocks in the production and distribution of products or services. They can be caused by anything: a breakdown in the production process, natural disasters, pandemics, or maybe a ship being stuck in the Suez Canal.
Consumers and suppliers around the world depend on every part of the supply chain working perfectly. From consumers’ demand forming to recycling of the waste — if one of the cogs fails, the entire process faces uncertainty and rips. This can’t help but influence and frustrate customers and consumers.
How to Respond to the Affected Customers?
45% of customers say they will stop ordering from a company after only 1 late delivery, even when the disruption is out of the company’s control. Add this to 42% of customers who would switch a brand after having communicated with rude or unhelpful support representatives, and the customers churn.
Staying calm and helpful is the number one rule when dealing with angry or frustrated consumers. There are several steps a support representative needs to take to ensure a calm approach:
- ☺️ Understand that a customer is angry about the situation, not the support itself.
- 💬 Let a customer speak as much as they need.
- 👍 Communicate in a calm and understanding tone of voice.
- ✅ Use positive language.
- 👟 Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Understanding customers’ frustration and calmly helping them with the situation will not only help the situation diffuse, but will ensure customers coming back in the future.
Have Relevant Information
44% of consumers say they have received wrong or old information from support teams. Having to deal with a late or lost shipment is bad enough. Adding wrong or old information into the mix will make customers churn.
Providing relevant and up-to-date information is always important. There are several ways to set a support system in a way that will facilitate it:
- 1️⃣ Set up an omnichannel support, so the entire scope of customer information is in one place and can always be found by a support team.
- 🖥 Implement just the right CRM system that can satisfy your business needs and provide more flexible and secure services.
- 🤝 Include the support team in business processes and encourage communication between the teams. This way, everyone will know the most relevant and correct information.
Engage Your Risk Management
Dealing with dissatisfied customers is always risky. What if they do not want to listen to you? Will they leave a bad review? What if they share their bad experience with others?
When developing a risk management plan for supply chain disruptions, keep the following points in mind:
- 📈 Keep customer communication consistent. It should stay at the same high level throughout the entire crisis.
- 💪🏻 Set higher standards for the quality of the products and services and for the delivery process. This might slow the chain down at first, but will ultimately result in a streamlined supply chain process.
- 😎 Outsource the processes you can’t keep track of. Customer or vendor communication, setting up the delivery process or logistics can be outsourced to a third party. This will allow any business to focus on its inner processes.
Following these basic steps even during the most difficult supply chain disruptions will help customers get the most relevant and useful information.
Supply Chain Support Trends
With Bill Gates predicting new pandemics will be a casual thing of the future, support teams have to start adapting to the trends now.
Implement AI and Digital Experience
78% of businesses have already implemented AI solutions into improving their customer services. Investing into AI and perfecting customers’ digital experience should become one of business’ priorities.
When dealing with supply chain disruptions, AI can help in:
- Ordering: it can estimate and predict when a customer is likely to make a purchase based on their history and offer the best deals and the most optimal ordering time.
- Delivery: it can calculate the most optimal routes for delivery and update estimated delivery time.
- Customer communication: it can follow the delivery process and notify customers about the possible delays and interruptions. It can optimize the process by generating answers to the most common questions or gathering information on the most popular queries.
AI could help customers take charge of their ordering process. Support teams, in their turn, would not have to spend a lot of time following each customer’s order and updating them on the status manually.
Only 1% of customers say brands meet their expectations consistently. With 12% of businesses facing heavy supply chain disruptions, this number is unlikely to go up. A customer-centric approach could remedy the situation by demonstrating brands’ caring attitude towards their customers. Loyalty programs, presents, and special offers for the affected customers will be a perfect starting point to prevent about 91% of the customer base from churning.
Learn to Work With a Lot of Data
A supply chain disruption only adds to an already big volume of information and customer communication. A great CRM system that will display the status of the order and the history of customer communication can help support and service teams. It will also help support teams to provide the customers with fast answers.
SupportYourApp uses our in-house built QCRM. It is an omnichannel, single-window CRM system that allows us to provide our clients’ customers with fast and accurate answers, no matter how big of a disruption we might face.
Learn From Your Mistakes
During the Covid-19 crisis we have seen a lot of disruptions, the most notable one being the shortage of masks, rubber gloves and sanitizing liquids and gels. This could have been prevented, had the businesses learned from the previous pandemic — H1N1 swine flu. While stacking up on sanitizers and masks seems easy, there are a lot of steps businesses and support teams need to take to be able to deal with the next supply line disruption, should it occur:
- Ensure production and delivery transparency. Include AI and digitalize the processes.
- Make sure both the production- and customer-facing teams can be scaled easily to satisfy a growing demand.
- Risk-proof your processes. Make sure you and your customers have something to fall on in case of disruption.
Supply chain disruptions are inevitable. All we can do is learn to optimize our processes and adapt to any circumstances.
Anna has been working as a writer for 5 years. She previously wrote about financial markets, conducting the research on the state of bonds and stocks on a daily basis. She is a keen reader with interest in historical literature and international cuisine. Her latest obsession — customer communication and ways to perfect it. If you want to connect with Anna, follow her on LinkedIn.Posted on