5 Ways to Handle Delivery Exceptions to Maintain Customer Loyalty

In the world of e-commerce, you place an enormous amount of trust in the delivery process. That’s because it ensures that your customers actually receive the products that you’ve spent so long to design, market, and sell.

However, there inevitably comes a time when deliveries are delayed or disrupted in some way. You’ve almost certainly experienced this as a buyer – maybe you’ve been told that the package has been delivered when it’s nowhere to be seen or it’s still in transit weeks after you expected it to arrive.

These delays, disruptions, and delivery failures all come under the category of delivery exceptions – and they’re all incredibly frustrating for customers and businesses alike. Indeed, delivery exceptions can have a damaging impact on your customers’ view of your business, reducing customer loyalty and retention.

So how can you handle delivery exceptions in order to minimize the impact of disruptions to deliveries on your business? Read on to find out more.

What Is a Delivery Exception?

A delivery exception is anything that disrupts a package in transit. From a customer’s perspective, you’d probably become aware of a delivery exception through an automated customer service message alerting you to a delay in the delivery of your package. However, delivery exceptions don’t always lead to a delivery delay.

The most important thing about delivery exceptions is that something unplanned has happened in the shipping process. This can range from entirely random events, such as extreme weather, to more mundane ones, like the customer not being in to collect the package.

What Causes a Delivery Exception?

There are lots of reasons why delivery exceptions occur. Here, we’ve placed them into three categories that will affect how you respond to the delivery exception:

Shipping Problems

Often, problems arise from within the shipping company itself. Shipping companies are just as susceptible to human error as any other organization, and problems may arise during transit. A common cause of delivery exceptions is a damaged or incorrect label, which can easily happen during the shipping process.

Similarly, the shipping company may have technical issues that lead to a delivery exception. They might, for instance, experience a brief outage in their supply chain optimization software. This could lead to the shipping company struggling to print the right amount of labels or assign drivers to incoming jobs effectively.

External Issues

Another common category of delivery exceptions is problems that arise outside anyone’s control. These are often practical roadblocks in the delivery process, such as extreme weather preventing delivery or a road closure increasing the time it takes for the package to get from A to B.

The category of external problems also incorporates issues arising from rules and regulations. Even small packages are often held up in lengthy customs delays, while federal holidays can prevent shipping companies from operating.

Customer Problems

Not all delivery exceptions grow out of problems in the shipping process itself. Errors that come from the customer – such as an incorrect address – can cause delivery exceptions. Another common cause of a delivery exception is the customer being unavailable when the delivery is scheduled.

As a business, you should do everything you can to minimize the chances of these customer problems. Consider using a chatbot for customer service that can provide personalized advice for your customers so that they are more likely to enter their delivery details correctly.

Why Is It So Important to Handle Delivery Exceptions Effectively?

Delivery exceptions can arise from a range of different problems. They can also have a range of impacts on your business:

Poor Customer Experience

You’ve probably experienced the frustration of waiting for a delivery longer than you expected. Poorly handled delivery exceptions are a surefire way to give your customers a bad experience with your business. After all, your customers may be relying on a prompt delivery for a friend’s birthday or a work commitment.

Stay in Touch with Your Customer

Damaged Reputation

Although customers might be willing to forgive one delivery exception, if your deliveries are repeatedly experiencing delays, your brand reputation will likely take a significant hit. Customers will lose trust in your company and associate your brand with ineptitude and delay.

Lower Customer Retention and Loyalty

All of this means that you’re less likely to find that your customers are loyal to your business – why would you keep buying from a brand that can’t deal with delays effectively? If you want to improve customer retention and loyalty, you must be able to handle delivery exceptions.

This can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Not only will you have fewer recurring orders, but you’ll be less likely to attract new customers through positive word of mouth. You’ll also have to spend more on refunds and resends for the delivery exceptions.

5 Ways to Handle Delivery Exceptions

So what are the best ways to deal with delivery exceptions in order to maintain customer loyalty? Here are the five best methods of handling delivery exceptions:

1. Stay in Touch With the Order

When a delivery exception first occurs, you need to get a clear understanding of where the parcel is and what has caused the order delay. Make sure that you and your shipping company have a clear channel for communication and ensure that you have an order status that is always updating.

Although the shipping company has control of the package – and it’s up to them to overcome the delivery exception – you’re ultimately seen as responsible for it by your customers. This means that you should get revised delivery expectations from the carrier as soon as possible. You could also set up an email verification tool with the shipping company to notify you of delivery.

2.  Stay in Touch With Your Customers

As well as constantly staying in touch with the shipping company and knowing what is up with your orders, you should always inform your customers about the delivery exception. Reach out to the customer as soon as you become aware of any delivery delay – they’ve likely paid shipping costs and will expect a timely delivery.

Stay in Touch with Your Customer

This should include information about the reasons for the delivery exception and revised expectations around the delivery date. There’s nothing more frustrating than being told that your package has been delayed without any more information about when to expect it!

With AI improving customer experience every day, a lot of this process can be automated. This will make communication more effective while also minimizing the labor cost for your organization.

3. Offer Refunds or Resend the Package

If you miss a delivery deadline, you should offer your customer a refund of any shipping costs that they paid when they ordered the package. This might seem like an unnecessary cost, especially if it’s just a brief delay, but it shows that you truly care about your customers. It’s, therefore, a great way to protect your brand reputation in the case of a delivery exception.

In some delivery exceptions, the problem is more serious than simply a delay in the delivery. It might be the case that the package is lost completely or that it has been damaged in shipping. If this has occurred, you should offer a refund or a new package as soon as possible. This can be compensated later by the shipping company, so you shouldn’t worry about costs.

4. Focus on Rebuilding Your Relationship with the Customer

In the world of e-commerce, you need to recognize the importance of your relationships with your customers. On top of staying in touch throughout the delivery process, you should follow up on any delay by reaching out. For instance, you could use AI call center technology to send out a personal apology to your customers for the delay.

Rebuild Your Relationship

You might also want to consider asking for feedback from the customer. Not only will this enable you to rebuild your relationship and improve their trust in your brand, but it will genuinely help you to improve your services in the future.

5. Pre-empt Delivery Exceptions in the Future

Learn from your mistakes to reduce the chances of delivery exceptions in the future – make sure that you use clear and concise instructions, for example. Another great way to pre-empt delivery exceptions is by using a carrier that you trust to be reliable.

If you’re a growing business with lots of outgoing orders, you might want to consider creating a separate website that you can use to deal with delivery exceptions. By using a domain name registration tools, you can easily set this up – allowing you to handle delivery exceptions more effectively as you can point customers and shipping companies to a dedicated site.

Handling Delivery Exceptions – Overcoming a Common E-Commerce Problem

When your business relies on shipping and deliveries, the problem of delivery exceptions is an inevitable part of your day-to-day operations. However, the way that you handle delivery exceptions will let you avoid any significant damage to your reputation.

Handling Delivery Exceptions

Although you might think that you’re not responsible for the delivery once the package leaves your warehouse, by using the methods in this article – from staying in touch with the carrier and the customer to actively pre-empting delivery exceptions – you can be confident that customer loyalty and retention will be protected despite the delivery delay.

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