Are your customer service representatives (CSRs) aware of your warehouse operations? Do they understand how the warehouse affects the rest of the business? Chances are, they’ve got some learning to do. These customer service tips for your warehouse are an excellent place to begin!
Over 25 years in the warehousing business I’ve observed the gap between CSRs and warehouse teams again and again. The gap causes misunderstandings and often frustrated customers. Closing that gap and getting the CSR and warehouse teams to work together more closely brings meaningful benefits to yourself and your customer. This article gives an overview of how to address this problem and 5 actionable tips you can implement to upgrade your customer service to the next level.
Send weekly inventory reports
Problem: Communication gap between CSR and warehouse employees leads to frustrated customers.
Symptom: Customers saying things like, “Why don’t you have that in stock?!”
We’ve all been there: an exasperated customer is giving your customer service representative an earful because they tried to order something on your website (it said it was available) but the actual product has been EOL (end-of-life) for over 90 days. So now the CSRs must deal with the aggravated customer and offer a better solution.
Situations like these could be avoided if warehouse workers would send weekly (or daily in some cases) inventory reports to the CSRs. Not only does this help the CSRs prevent customer service nightmares, but it also functions to open up the lines of communication between the warehouse and the CSRs.
Give your CSR employees a voice in the warehouse
Problem: CSRs have insights to share about feedback (quality or defects, for example) from customers but have no opportunity to share it.
Symptom: Spike in a particular product being returned due to defects.
The trusted adage goes, “You can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.” This is true of CSR and warehouse employees too. If possible, invite the CSR employees for a walk through one of your warehouses. End the tour with a general discussion and Q&A time.
The CSRs get daily feedback from customers and can share valuable insights to your warehouse managers. CSRs could share information about a product that has been returned often due to defect or damage. That way, the warehouse manager could address the problem and save everyone a lot of trouble.
Cross-train your warehouse team
Problem: Warehouse staff that are unengaged with the utility of the products manufactured and company vision.
Symptom: High warehouse staff turnover rates.
It’s an obvious step to train your CSRs when a new product is launched. That said, your warehouse staff are often not included in any of this product training. Let’s change that! Start by teaching the warehouse staff how the product works and what value it brings to customers. If the warehouse staff are excited about the company vision and the products being manufactured, you’ll experience a surge in efficiency and employee engagement.
Become logistics experts
Problem: CSRs playing hot potato with customer shipping order issues.
Symptom: Frustrated customers calling many times about their shipment.
How often have you heard, “Please call UPS if you have any questions about your shipment?” That phrase does not inspire customer delight. Upgrading your CSRs knowledge of shipping processes translates into customers that feel taken care of.
Start by training your CSRs on the ins and outs of traces, brokerage fees, and international surcharges. Next, form a relationship with your courier (a good way to do this is to sign up for their preferred services). Empower each other to serve the customer as best as possible.
Teamwork for the win
Problem: Warehouse and CSR staff that feel like they are on opposite teams rather than the same one.
Symptom: “Us” vs “them” talk.
Friendly competition aside, teamwork creates synergy. You want your CSR and warehouse staff to feel like they’re pulling in the same direction. For example, this becomes critical during product launches and holidays. During these periods your staff needs to know they have each other’s backs. It will give you peace of mind if you know that customers are receiving friendly support and their shipments are going out on time. Consider ways you can foster understanding between your CSRs and warehouse staff and do everything you can to keep the lines of communication open.
The importance of this point is difficult to overstate. Once your two teams start integrating, you’ll notice an overall improvement in team culture.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed in this article, believe me, it gets better! Over your next quarter decide to implement what you've read today about customer service tips for your warehouse. This will improve your customer’s experience and will boost your organizational health.
To dig deeper and learn about how best in class warehouses run, read this article on "4 Evidence Based Best Practices Best In Class Warehouses Follow."