The e-commerce marketplace is crowded with competition and building long term relationships with satisfied customers is a key strategy to maintain a successful business. Fulfillment operations hold a prominent place in this chain of satisfaction. As a third party logistics provider, you can help your clients improve their performance, which will improve both the client relationship with the customer and your relationship with the client.
To ensure you provide your clients with the tools for success, check your services for these seven pillars.
Make sure your fulfillment service is accurate. Audit the process at least once per quarter and identify areas for improvement. Implement improvements on a continual basis.
Customers who receive incorrect or delayed orders are more likely to leave feedback, and it’s not going to be positive. By raising the bar on accuracy, the fulfillment partner actively maintains customer satisfaction for the client.
To make sure improvements are successful, involve all fulfillment staff in the process. Sprocket Express includes the warehouse employees in broad meetings and allows everyone a voice. When staff are involved, their level of accountability increases and everyone feels part of the solution.
Arrange same day shipping whenever possible. Some fulfillment centers will even go the extra mile to process last-minute orders for clients, typically for a small handling charge or manual processing fee. When a VIP customer orders after the cutoff time and expects 5-star service, the client wants to accommodate and please the customer. This is a key factor for many businesses when choosing a 3PL.
A good 3PL actively maintains relationships with all shipping carriers and negotiates for better rates annually. They pass the volume discounts on to clients, improving the bottom line.
First impressions are important, so the packaging must be neat, new and clean. Labels need to be professional, relatively straight. Talk to clients about customized packing tape or labels for a more cohesive brand image.
Inside the box, all items should be securely packed with clean filler. Customers who receive damaged or dirty merchandise are left with a bad impression of the company. As the last pair of hands to touch the customer’s items, the fulfillment provider has the responsibility to handle every order with care.
Maintain transparency throughout the order and fulfillment processes. Provide clients with real-time tracking information and inventory results. Customers should also receive prompt shipping notifications and tracking details. When everyone has access to the information, there are no secrets or surprises. This one of the ways that blockchain may enhance supply chain management in the future.
Fulfillment pricing can be confusing to some clients. Client representatives should be available to discuss billing clearly and provide backup such as inventory cycle counts or guidance for the software system.
The more flexible you are in the fulfillment process, the more likely a client will feel like you are a partner, rather than just a vendor in the chain. If possible, assign customer representatives to each client so there is a personal connection between the fulfillment house and the business. Representatives should be empowered to handle special requests and rush orders.
Automation has an important place in the supply chain, there’s no doubt. But it has its place. When confirming orders and shipments, automated responses are appropriate. However, clients may have special needs or requests; they may need to call for changes. 3PLs that offer only automated service cannot properly serve these needs. Clients appreciate the option to speak with a human at their fulfillment warehouse to resolve issues and make changes.
Clients don’t always know how you can help them, so they might not ask. A good fulfillment center anticipates needs by helping manage supply chain inefficiencies such as overstocked inventory. Make sure your clients know what you offer for added value services like kitting and subscription services.
When a client sees that their 3PL is acting as a partner by making valuable suggestions and taking responsibility, the relationship is stronger and both businesses are poised for greater success.
Fulfillment centers that take an active role in the chain of satisfaction offer better service and maintain happier clients. By following these principles, you solidify confidence among your clients, who will be more likely to recommend your service. Plus, you will help improve customer satisfaction, which keeps everyone growing. Here’s to mutual success!
Article written by Dan Cence, Sprocket Express Fulfillment