The days of setting up shop and simply waiting until customers came to you are over. With even niche markets rapidly filling up, retailers are struggling to find points of difference that can be leveraged against their competitors. Smart businesses are realizing that the 4 Ps– product, price, place and promotion– are no longer the sole foothold in moving them ahead of their rivals.
Your logistics and fulfillment center operations offer rich opportunities to communicate corporate efforts to customers and coax them into loyalty, one customer service outreach at a time.
It’s Not (All) About You Anymore
As business consultant and entrepreneur Robert Cordray noted in an article for Business 2 Community, many retailers and corporations are operating by outdated rules in a challenging modern market.
Consumers wield more power than ever before, directly compelling businesses to change practices ranging from sourcing to manufacturing to packaging. If a business fails to recognize this innate power relationship, they risk appearing as a self-important entity, deaf to the needs and desires of their core consumer demographic.
With the internet at the fingertips of essentially every current or future customer, transparency becomes a huge liability for companies that have relied– or, worse, are still relying– on a strictly purchase-oriented customer that never questions sourcing or fulfillment center processes.
Your Customer Is Calling. Who’s Picking Up?
Today’s customer wants to know not only what you’re going to provide to them and the lowest price you’ll accept for it, but also how you’re getting it to them.
Third party logistics providers are now sending out package tracking directly to the customer, but that doesn’t mean that the buck stops there. If there’s a problem with an order after it’s sent out, customers need to know they have a customer service safety net to rely on. Customer service pro Maria Lebed, in another piece for Business 2 Community, reminds companies that 79% of customers in a recent Accenture survey want customer service that is easy to obtain and utilize.
Interact with your company’s store or website, imagining that you have an issue to solve and need to get in touch with someone.
- How hard is it to locate a phone number to contact?
- How quickly do your representatives respond?
- Is there a clear escalation policy in place to address concerns?
If you aren’t sure about these answers, you have a problem waiting in the wings to sabotage your marketing efforts, especially if a busy season is looming. Address and improve until the answers are both clear and readily available to those that need them.
Open a Dialogue
You could observe your customer– both through their buying habits and physically in your stores, if applicable– for days on end and some motivations and desires would still be a mystery. Use surveys or direct conversations to discover exactly what they’re looking for, and why, rather than using a scattershot approach and hoping for the best.
Most customers are eager to give opinions, especially when it comes to areas that need improvement.
Ultimately, your customer will be the one to determine the success or failure of efforts ranging from marketing to fulfillment, so ensuring you’re in tune with them is just smart business planning.
While a certain buffer does need to be in place to ensure corporate privacy, keeping your customers happy doesn’t have to mean inviting them in to your fulfillment center. If you’re willing to keep a little slack in the line to adjust procedures to be more customer-friendly throughout your business, you’re off to a great start.
Ask, listen and implement on a regular schedule— not just during peak periods— and you’ll find that your customer base will respond in kind with wallets in hand.