Drop shipping business may arguably be one of the best ecommerce business models ever conceived, talk about its huge profit potential, the little amount of startup capital required and the advantage of having to keep no goods in stock, it might as well be every entrepreneur’s dream.
As a drop shipper, you leverage on the efforts of producers or drop shipping suppliers by transferring customer orders and shipment details to them with the use of an ecommerce website, and they in turn ship the goods directly to the customer.
They take full control of the order delivery process while you get credit for the order and a custom packaging with your brand name and logo on it.
This supplier distribution model however, comes with its occasional hiccups and errors ranging from late deliveries to dealing with defective item returns which if not carefully and expediently resolved may result in heavy backlash and nasty customer complaints that could cause serious damage to the reputation of your drop shipping business.
We agree that coming to terms with the idea of relinquishing the control of the order delivery process to the producers or drop shipping suppliers and the added weight of bearing the brunt of the blame if anything goes wrong can be really discouraging. However, with proper motivation and an excellent service delivery, drop shippers can learn to deal effectively with unpleasant customer complaints.
Dealing with these customer complaints requires experience and an in depth knowledge of the workings of the drop shipping business. You have to be very familiar with the terms and conditions of your suppliers and make necessary provisions for the many uncertainties that may occur from the second an order is placed till the moment it reaches the customer.
One way is by taking note and understanding the return process and option of your drop shipping supplier long beforehand so as to enable you have reasonable and intelligent answers to give your customers when communication with them about their order. This would make you look knowledgeable and well organized to the customer, he would instill his confidence in you and may as well see reasons why the problem occurred in the first place and why he needs to be patient with you while it is being resolved.
Sometimes in drop shipping business, mistakes that are completely out of your control will inevitably occur and it could be a fault from your producer, supplier or shipping company. Having a strong agreement in place with your supplier as regards delays in the delivery of orders and in the case of damaged items upon delivery is very important as it will allow you file claims to whatever loss or replacements you may have incurred from the order.
It is also important that you do not make mention of any of these other parties to the customer when trying to resolve a complaint with them as that would only cause confusion and make you appear unprofessional. Your best bet in a situation like this is to acknowledge the mistake and reassure the customer of fixing it immediately and in severe cases, work to replace any supplier with a habit of giving problems.
Customers who have experienced delays or mistakes with their orders can also be approached by placing a phone call to them to apologize. Customers always seem to respond appreciatively to phone call apologies than with emails, it also proves to the customer that you care about their plight and goes a long way at cementing your relationship with the customer.
Offering them incentives to make up for the error is also another effective ideal way of dealing with customer complaints. Incentives may be in the form of refunding the shipping fee or an upgrade in the shipping and delivery time if a new item has to be sent or it could even be giving a coupon code for their next order. However you choose to play it that would result in a repeat business, by all means, endeavor to do so.
Making these sacrifices, even though it may result in a loss on an order is very important as you would have not only saved your reputation, but also your relationship with the customer. You may even have built a loyal brand advocate and get to enjoy the prospect of getting more orders or even referrals from the customer in future, which ultimately allows you the opportunity to recoup in double folds or more whatever profits you may have lost.
Another important thing is to have a well-defined and easy to understand return policy which the customer can see clearly on your ecommerce website. Most drop shippers overlook this critical aspect until that first customer requests for a return and then they get stranded, time gets wasted and the customer becomes more combative. All that can be avoided and quickly resolved when you have a system in place for sending back returns to your supplier or receiving, storing, and then reselling or liquidating the returns yourself.
You also need to understand this process because product returns may not necessarily be due to an error from your end or your supplier’s, rather it could be that the customer was the one who shipped the wrong item. Whatever the case may be, clearly stating that all sales are conclusive except for when the wrong item is shipped on the “add to cart” page of your ecommerce website, would save you the hassle of shipping back the item, otherwise you would have no option than to consent to it.
Out-of-stock items, wrong tracking codes, item arrived damaged, shipment to a wrong address, wrong quantity shipped, incorrect billing and the several other problems usually associated with drop shipping can all be avoided or resolved with proper accountability, using multiple suppliers with overlapping product lines and having efficient control of the timing, frequency and messaging of all customer communications.
The convenience of running a drop shipping business comes with the cost of handling logistical problems from time to time. However, if you accept this reality as a cost of doing business and always ensure to place your customer’s satisfaction at the helm of your organizational objectives, customer complaints would be reduced to its barest minimum.