Written By: Dan Arnett
A few months ago my dishwasher broke. My wife and I had renters in our house at the time and wouldn’t be returning for a couple of months, so it didn’t really affect us too much when the appliance repair company told us the needed part was on backorder and wouldn’t be available for another few weeks. Our renters patiently waited it out, and we rested easy knowing that we would have a fixed dishwasher when we returned home.
Fast forward three months, and the replacement part is still on backorder due to supply chain issues with no indication of when (or if) it will ever be available again, leaving my wife and me on the lookout for Black Friday sales so we can replace the dishwasher.
We’re not the only ones waiting on a product; a recent study from Oracle shows that 87% of adults surveyed say they’ve been negatively impacted by supply chain issues over the past year. What’s worse is that 84% say delays would cause them to cancel their order and 80% say delays or shortages would even cause them to stop buying from a brand entirely. With many experts predicting that supply chain woes aren’t going away any time soon, it’s important for brands to be transparent with customers and communicate delays and shortages to them as clearly and delicately as possible.
We’re sharing four tips for how to communicate effectively to lessen customer frustration with your brand and retain their loyalty.
Be transparent, but don’t overcommunicate
63% of customers want brands to provide more regular updates about shipping status, while 59% want brands to be more transparent on inventory (Oracle survey, 2021). Still, over-communication can make problems worse, as frustration may grow the more times customers hear their product is still nowhere in sight. In fact, 58% of people said they would stop buying from a brand after one to three delays or disruptions. While transparency about delays and complications is key, beware of frustrating customers further with frequent updates.
Put the power in the customer’s hands
To lessen frustrations, put the power in the customer’s hands. Create a landing page for customers to receive individualized on-demand inventory updates by using a unique code, such as their order number. This allows customers to check in as frequently as they’d like, without risking communication burnout on the brand’s behalf. But don’t depend completely on this system and be sure to have customer service representatives on standby for customers searching for more information.
Be concise — don’t belabor specifics on supply chain issues
When communicating with customers, be clear and concise, and avoid diving deep into supply chain specifics. According to the Oracle study, most people (91%) understand that supply chains are complex, but 94% want more support from brands to help ease their worries. While customers may be searching for additional help and communication from brands, they’re not expecting a treatise on the complexities of post-Covid sourcing and supply chain management.
These days, supply chain disruptions are dominating the news cycle and creating topic fatigue for many customers. In the context of your brand, customers ultimately care about when your products will be back in stock– not supply chain distribution specifics. Be concise and provide them with only the info they need, in a way that makes them feel appreciated and heard.
Consider extending an olive branch to maintain some goodwill throughout these challenges.
When you communicate, make it personal
Supply chain issues have people feeling frustrated (61%), impatient (46%), anxious (45%), and angry (34%). Now is the time to calm frustrations, ease worries, and empathize with customers. An email with a personal touch can go a long way. Personalize your communications, consider including a note from your CEO expressing sympathy and quick action for the delays, and include a signature at the end. Additionally, consider offering an incentive to ease their frustrations.
Extend an olive branch
While the supply chain issues your company faces may not be your fault, your relationships with customers still hang in the balance; 84% say delays would cause them to cancel their order and 80% say delays or shortages would even cause them to stop buying from a brand entirely. Consider extending an olive branch to maintain some goodwill throughout these challenges. Whether that means waiving shipping costs or throwing in some free gear, a small concession from you could go a long way in keeping your customers happy while they wait for their products.
Unsure where to go from here or just looking for a little extra help massaging your messaging? At Darby Communications, we help our clients put their best foot forward in their communications with consumers whether it’s via their email marketing campaigns or social media messaging. You can learn more here.