Business

How to Handle Shipping Delays with Your Customers

It’s never ideal for a customer’s shipment to be delayed. Whether there’s an issue farther up in your supply chain or a problem with your shipper, a shipment delay can nevertheless defer a customer from continuing to utilize your company. If your brand puts in the effort to remedy the situation—even if you can’t fix it directly—you can maintain your brand’s reputation despite even widespread shipping delays, ensuring customers trust you to follow through on future deliveries to the best of your ability. 

Communicate with your customers. 

From the moment you realize a delayed shipment is inevitable, your top priority should be communicating with the recipients of those packages. Not only will it save precious bandwidth from having to deal with countless queries, but your customers will appreciate your upfront acknowledgment of the issue at hand. Reach out to anyone whose package may be affected and give them a fair warning about your experiencing shipment delays.

Reassure buyers that you’ve done your part and continue to do whatever you can to promptly make sure their packages make it to them. Most importantly, offer a sincere apology for the delay and any inconvenience it creates. Even when you have no control over the shipment’s ETA, your customer will appreciate your attention.

Acknowledge important implications.

Thanks to Amazon and other companies like them, consumers expect lightning-fast processing, shipping, and delivery times. Of course, those timelines aren’t always reasonable, even without disruptions. Typically, this causes little more than an inconvenience, but, in some cases, even a slight delay can have serious consequences.

Over the last year, for instance, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of shipping PPE amidst shortages and getting vaccine doses to their intended destination on time. Severe weather caused many vaccine shipments to be delayed amidst an already chaotic rollout process.

You might not be to blame for a late shipment or the repercussions thereof, but it’s nevertheless crucial that you recognize these concerns and do your part to make things right where possible. 

Be transparent about moving pieces. 

Sometimes, your company may be blatantly at fault for a shipping delay. However, that’s not always the case—from severe weather emergencies to carrier delays and supply chain congestion, there’s no end to the issues that can cause a package to arrive at its destination belatedly.

As you communicate these delays to your clients, it’s essential to be transparent about whatever is causing this issue. Don’t pass the blame to another factor just to avoid pushback but, if you’re genuinely facing a problem due to weather-related closures, inventory constraints, or decreased shipper availability, be open about what factors are causing the problem.

Rather than a vague acknowledgment of the shipment delay at hand, a more specific note to affected customers will clarify that you truly understand the situation yourself and are trying to fix it if possible. 

Protect yourself in advance.

From a business perspective, you know how to avoid liability when needed. When it comes to shipping delays, though, you might not have thought to prepare your company. In most cases, a delayed shipment won’t have a severe enough effect for any legal action to occur. On the off-chance it is warranted, though, you must have prepared your brand. 

Be sure to avoid any guarantees that can’t be kept, especially where outside factors are concerned, and review any fine print to ensure you’re openly acknowledging that even a projected delivery time can’t always be met. By noting these factors outside of your control and making it clear that misguided promises don’t lead to legal repercussions, take action before a delay to protect your company from such crises. 

Shipping delays are suboptimal for everyone involved. By taking action as quickly as possible to alleviate customer concerns and improve any aspects of the situation you can, you can make the issue a little less severe. Prepare your brand in advance to avoid an escalated crisis and put in the work to make sure it’s no more severe an incident than necessary. 

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