Manage Client Expectations While Dealing with Supply Chain Issues
Managing client expectations through supply chain challenges
It’s no secret that client happiness plays an important role in every business. Unfortunately, in recent times, supply chain is creating new challenges as part of the customer experience. As product deliveries are delayed or disrupted, teams are struggling to onboard and close new sales as well as satisfy existing customer orders. And while managing customer expectations is always part of a business’s competitive advantage, when supply chains take a hit, circumstances can take a hard turn for the worse.
Many companies are proactively implementing supply chain management software to limit a chaotic customer experience in response to supply chain challenges supply chain management software to limit a chaotic customer experience. Surely there is no foolproof system for manufacturing delays, human error, and unforeseen circumstances, but maintaining transparency and keeping a watchful eye on materials can benefit everyone from employees to the end customer.
At Arborgold, we develop business management software with supply chain management in mind. For over twenty-five years, Arborgold’s product teams have worked with a broad range of companies that depend on materials and a healthy supply chain as part of their overall revenue strategy. As a result, we’d like to shed some light on common supply chain challenges, and how to manage your client’s expectations when things don’t go as planned.
Major Supply Chain Challenges Facing Modern Businesses
The supply chain challenges business owners face today are vast and constantly changing. While some challenges are unpredictable, there are a few which commonly impact lawn and landscape businesses. Some of the most common that impact customers include:
- Multi-Channel Access: To make products more accessible to customers, many companies choose a multi-channel approach to purchase and delivery. This gets confusing and can cause supply chain challenges for your customer service team.
- Environmental Challenges: Governments are imposing greater restrictions on businesses to limit carbon footprints. This green initiative is great for the environment but it can be tough to maintain an efficient supply chain.
- Labor Shortages: Many companies are juggling the too many/not enough supply chain challenges in terms of employees. With social distancing protocols in effect, labor shortages are a growing issue for businesses.
- Inflation: Especially during the pandemic, businesses have been seeing a rise in costs throughout the supply chain. This causes a ripple effect from manufacturing to delivery.
- Speed Demands: Customers have more access to products than ever before. With new third-party suppliers popping up every day, it feels like modern businesses need to speed up supply chain processes from every angle to keep up.
- Pandemic Challenges: From red tape to border delays, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed massive supply chain challenges. These challenges have grown since 2020, leaving many businesses struggling to create new supply chain procedures and protocols.
- Transportation Delays: Delivery isn’t always controllable from a supply chain level. Many companies rely on third-party distribution, including local post office distribution. When there are delays in these areas, businesses can’t always control the outcome and must work from the customer service level to smooth supply chain challenges.
These are just some of the common general supply chain challenges facing today’s businesses. If any business wants to stay competitive and keep customer loyalty at a high level, effective supply chain management is crucial.
Arborgold business software is designed to minimize stress in supply chain operations and processes and increase control in every area of your business.
Offer Order and Delivery Access Through the Customer Portal
One way to minimize client stress and enhance customer satisfaction during supply shortages is to keep consumers in the loop. Customers want to know where orders are and when they’ll arrive. Even if issues arise and products are late, customers are understanding if delays are made known ahead of time.
One way to manage client expectations is integrating order and delivery information into your customer portal with Arborgold customer management software. This allows your customers to follow the progress of their job and see for themselves when materials are:
- Delayed in transit
Not only does order information in your CRM minimize client stress, but it also maximizes self-service functions. When customers can see the progress of jobs online, you require fewer staff to manage customer service.
Design Easily Approachable and Inclusive Customer Service
Customer service is an important part of the supply chain process and not all customers want to talk on the phone. Consider inclusive and easy-to-access customer service options. Online chat, e-mail, phone, and online contact forms are stronger together than individual methods of communication. This keeps your customer service team accessible to all clients, including those who are visually impaired and hard of hearing.
Develop Company-Wide Policies on Supply Chain Management Challenges
Every department dealing with the supply chain, including customer service, should be trained with the same standard procedures. Knowing what to do in any situation maintains cohesive interdepartmental order during disruptions.
To keep every team member in the loop regarding supply chain issues and solutions, consider company-wide training. You can implement this training through your business software. All staff would have access to the same learning materials and stored information.
Create a Customizable Approach to Your Supply Chain Processes
The supply chain is more than order and delivery, but this is part of the process. Making certain areas of the supply chain process customizable to clients ensures maximum customer satisfaction. Making these options available specifically when your supply chain is facing bumps in the road is even better. Customizable options could include:
- Special instructions
This offers your customers a sense of control over the situation.
How to Improve Supply Chain from a Customer Service Perspective
Understanding supply chain challenges is helpful, but a proactive approach to handling those issues is even better. Some of the ways companies can improve customer service at the supply chain issue include:
On-demand Fulfillment Options
If speed is the greatest concern your customers have with supply chain challenges, on-demand fulfillment is a great option. For local businesses, this is easier but even large multi-branch companies can offer on-demand fulfillment with the appropriate planning. From local delivery and pick-up options to pop-up fulfillment centers, you can relieve pressure from supply chain challenges.
A great example for using product or service tracking is a landscape installation project. Many landscape companies are providing estimates and bids with detailed line items on hardscape and softscape materials.
These same companies can include delivery tracking updates through their business software customer portal when consumers are logged in. You can also set notifications to email or text the customers when changes in the cycle take place, including delays in processing or delivery.
Realistic Delivery Times
Knowing what we do about the currently unpredictable delivery systems, and being forthcoming with customers is the best way to avoid conflict. As businesses set delivery times and standards for supply chains, be sure to provide your customers with realistic time frames. Keep these delivery times updated across your online and in-person customer care teams.
When mail is slow, or deliveries might be delayed, let customers know. If processing and delivery all take place within 3 to 5 business days, but you know it will be an additional week due to delays, update this timeframe for customers. You can use your Arborgold business software to update customers and update your blog, website, newsletter, and social media platforms.
Improved Inventory Control to Meet Customer Expectations
Inventory is a massive part of the demand and supply process. It’s important to know which items are:
- In stock
- On order
Keeping customers apprised of these changes will clearly set expectations for delivery. This reduces post-sale customer service queries, letting your team focus on real customer concerns.
Arborgold offers several options for inventory management through our business software services. You can keep tabs on what comes in and goes out of your company through multiple channels.
Automate Where Possible
Automation helps smooth supply chain challenges in many ways. From invoice automation to job updates on inventory and delivery, your customers can stay connected. Automation provides relief for staff and management from simple but time-consuming tasks. This increases productivity and improves customer service at the supply chain level.
Automation is one of the Arborgold software features. We can help you automate everything from web leads to job updates and payments. Automating where possible makes everything easier and more dependable.
Reduce Costs with Vendor Comparison
Growing costs across all business channels will always increase customer concerns. Companies can reduce some costs by comparing vendors and being assertive in supply costing efforts. Choosing vendors with the best prices and processes ensures you give your customer the best product or service at the best price.
Comparing vendors gives your business control over more than just cost. You can also choose vendors based on location and delivery options and partners. Many vendors have third-party partners to source supplies or organize delivery. Transparency between vendors and your company allows you to give your customers the same.
Learn More About Arborgold for Supply Chain Challenges
If the majority of your service teams are in the field, Arborgold can help. From purchase order generation to purchase and delivery tracking, Arborgold’s supply chain software supports businesses with:
- Re-order levels and alerts
- Material job costing
- Vendor & Purchase Order Management
- Risk reduction
- Supply chain management
Find out what today’s leading landscape, lawn, and tree care companies are looking for in supply chain management software.