Product Fulfillment Problems and Solutions
>Telemarketing/Customer Service: Is the scripting in place? Have there been any recent suggestions for improvements to the order-taking process? Do the operators understand the offer?
>Shipping, Receiving and Returns Processing: Will these departments be impacted or need to do anything out of the ordinary to handle orders of these products?
Share as much information as possible with all parties. Too often, a company is so concerned about confidentiality that management doesn't share necessary information until it's too late. If you do not trust an individual or supplier to maintain confidentiality, perhaps they are not right for the job.
Example: Here's what I mean by good communication. The catalog company sends proofs of each catalog to the head of every department and/or vendor for proofreading. Telemarketing may suggest that the source code be relocated to help customers find it during the call. Shipping may see that there is a premium that will require special packaging that must be ordered. IT might notice that the premium offer is different from the last catalog and that the system must be modified. And everyone has a chance to check for typos.
Establish strict rules and proto-cols for communications between departments and/or vendors. Whenever possible, all communications should be in writing. The recipient should always confirm receipt of instructions. Verbal instructions should be confirmed in writing.
Constantly test your fulfillment process. Place orders frequently via telephone, mail and your Web site. Make payments by check and credit card. Call customer service with various complaints. Return orders and see how long it takes to get a refund or exchange. And repeat the same process with your competitors so you can learn how they operate.
Step #2: When you Learn of a Problem, Save the Customer
If customers have been adversely impacted by a fulfillment problem, contact them immediately. Explain what has happened and how you plan to fix it. Offer some sort of compensation such as a credit for their next order, free gift, upgraded shipping method, etc. When properly handled, we've found that a resolved problem actually can result in an increase in sales and retention.