End User Support Services for Order Fulfillment
When it comes to warehousing, customer service means different things to different people. When some people think of customer service, they think of what is known as “end user” customer service or outsourced customer support. This service occurs between your client (or end user) and your customer support team, whether that team is in house, outsourced by you, or outsourced by your warehouse. That being said, while some warehousing companies do offer either end user customer service, call center services and fulfillment under one roof or some form of e-commerce call center support, such as Our Serviceworks, this is a highly specialized service and is only available through a handful of warehousing providers. Most warehousing companies either don’t offer end user customer support or they offer it through a third-party call center company. If you do need end user customer support and intend to use an outsourced warehousing and fulfillment company to perform these services, make sure that they do it all in-house – otherwise it would potentially be easier and more affordable to skip the middleman and outsource these services yourself.
Standard Order Fulfillment Support Services
What most warehousing fulfillment companies dooffer is direct customer service for your business and the other businesses they serve. Warehousing customer service provides your business answers to questions about order status, inventory on hand, order changes, reporting, shipping and receiving, errors, returns, to anything that affects your account or your inventory.
The most common way most outsourced warehousing providers offer customer support to clients is via email, chat or telephone, but there is a growing push towards email to resolve account matters. Though impersonal, most larger companies like Amazon, Shipwire or ShipBob host a dedicated customer service department, but customer accounts are handled by anyone who answers the phone or email, and your business will likely get a new representative every time you call or email with a concern – even when calling about the same issue. While this does help ensure timely and even round-the-clock customer support where available, it can be frustrating to businesses who must constantly wait for the representative to familiarize him or herself with the account notes or ask the caller to re-explain the problem each time. It also makes it difficult for your business to get customized service that fits your individual needs like they would with a smaller business with dedicated customer support.
Combatting the problem of a too-big customer service department is where the smaller, regional warehouse comes into play. Though smaller in size than Amazon, ShipBob and Shipwire, smaller warehouses often offer big differences in customer support. For example, unlike with larger warehousing operations, smaller warehouses can offer dedicated customer support to your business. This means your account is either handled by one contact within the company, such as the company president himself, or your business is assigned one dedicated person who handles your account and can be contacted directly whenever you need support. This business model enables your business to reach out to an expert on your individual account, eliminating the frustration of briefing a new customer service representative every time you call about an ongoing issue.
Another benefit to having a dedicated account manager is that they become very familiar with your business and its individual needs. Even when there are no issues present, your account manager can be a useful member of your team. They learn your inventory, shipping patterns, preferences and any specialized account details, and will advocate for you and your business.
Unfortunately, there are still downsides to dedicated customer service. For example, though having a dedicated representative often means a quicker resolution to your issue, if your dedicated representative is busy with multiple accounts, out sick, or even on vacation, it could take a while to get a response. This is why many warehousing companies familiarize several account representatives with your account, so there is usually someone around to help you out if your primary representative is unavailable. The downside to having multiple representatives on your account is that your backup representative or representatives may not be quite as familiar with your account as your primary representative is, leading to more delays in service.
Choosing the Best Service-Oriented Fulfillment Center For Your Business
Using a warehouse with dedicated customer support can be a rewarding experience for any business, but there are important key factors to remember when selecting a warehouse. Though its important, don’t just choose a warehousing operation for its customer service department. Make sure the provider has everything your business needs in addition to top-notch customer support.
Another thing to remember is that your business and its relationship with your customer support person and warehousing provider will work better the more involved you are in the relationship. This means holding regular meetings with your team to go over any issues and inventory. How often you choose to do this is up to you, but it is recommended that you meet as frequently as weekly, monthly or quarterly.
Finally, familiarize yourself not just with the warehousing company’s policies, but with their customer service practices as well. Learn who your representative or representatives are, get their contact information and find out what you can expect in terms of timeliness of response, means of response and more. This will ensure a great working relationship with your customer support team, so in the rare case that there is an issue, you are already comfortable with the individuals assigned to assist your business.