People who truly know how to run a business understand that even more important than acquiring new customers, is the ability to retain your client base in a mutually loyal relationship. It is a known fact that attracting new customers is much more expensive than keeping existing ones, so it is important to take advantage of that particular situation.
The role of logistics seems to be overlooked when it comes to customer retention and people have a tendency to believe that is all about the after-sale communication or the quality of the products what keeps them coming back for more. While extremely important, those factors are not the only ones that have critical impact on client retention rates, so a more conscious in-depth look at the logistics portion of the equation must be warranted, as reports indicate that about half of customers will not order again from retailers from which they have had a negative shipping experience.
As we have mentioned before here in David Kiger’s Blog, your logistics strategy is one of the most effective ways to maintain a satisfied customer base that will in itself translate into more referrals, new clients and subsequently more profits. Now let us take a look at some ways you can further strengthen your relationship with customers and ensure their loyalty.
Always be ready.
A strong logistics supply chain must have as a foundation a solid relationship with suppliers. This means understanding how to best handle your inventory in order to quickly fill orders by having enough product in stock but at the same time not having too much of your capital caught up in overstock. A profound understanding and handling of the art of balancing supply and demand must be exercised in order to be prepared to meet all of your customers needs. There are tools and software that can be used to accomplish this, as well as other strategies like having a visual counter of stock quantities in your store. This can help you be aware of low numbers so you can start a process of reordering and at the same time show your customers the possible unavailability of certain items so they can plan ahead.
Remove all the guesswork
Be transparent about your shipping policies, possible delays and keep in mind holidays and other possible factors that may disrupt the way normal operations take place. If you notify your customers of these eventualities, they will appreciate your honesty and that will create trust. Trust is what keep people coming back and doing business with a particular brand. Customers will tell you that the problem is not the delay itself, but the uncertainty of not knowing what is going on and what is being done to fix their particular issue. Give your clients all the information they may possibly need to avoid the shock of unpleasant surprises.
Be flexible with your options
Transparency is great, but flexibility will most of the time make the difference between a completed purchase and a bunch of items left in a shopping cart indefinitely. Customers want as many options as possible in order to choose whatever they feel best suits their need. Remember that speed is one factor that can make or break your shipping options. Customers understand that in order to receive something next day, they must pay a hefty premium, but what they do not appreciate is not having the option of receiving their goods as fast a possible. Think about having multiple carriers or options that allow for different methods of pick-up and delivery in order to meet your client’s needs.
Go for quality when it comes to shipping
Customers do not care what is the color of the logo of the delivery truck that brings their goods to their final destination. All they care about is that the delivery goes smoothly and exactly when it was promised. It is up to you to choose which carrier you trust with handling your reputation because it does not matter how much effort you put into your work, an irresponsible shipping company is all you need in order to lose valuable customers. Think about quality before anything else and understand that it comes at a price. Having the latest software is another aspect of quality that you cannot afford to do without as the latest technology ensures that you are offering the very best on your end of the transaction and doing everything you can to fulfill your customer’s orders.
Feedback and return policies
Having a clear and easy to apply return policy can help you start securing a customer before they even make their purchase. Make sure that your clients know that your goal is to ensure they will be 100% satisfied with their purchase and that your company has policies and ways to make sure things go that way. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice the cost of one item, but remember that in the long run, that is a small price to pay when it comes to loyalty and keeping your customers happy.