Late shipments are bad for your business. The customer expects delivery as promised and could lose sales or business because you failed to deliver on time. Frequent late shipments may prompt the customer to deem your service unreliable, leading to a change in vendors. This is sometimes avoided by apologising in writing for the late shipment and offering the customer an incentive to continue using your service. Make the letter concise, to the point and apologetic.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Contact the customer ahead of the scheduled delivery if you know it will not arrive on time. Explain the situation by telephone, e-mail or letter and promise more updates. Tell the customer exactly what the holdup is and steps being taken to remedy the situation.
Assign a manage or senior customer service representative to personally track progress if the shipment is a large order for a key customer. Authorise the manager or representative to take reasonable steps to speed up delivery, including switching to overnight delivery at no additional charge to the customer.
Confirm that the shipment was delivered through tracking records. Write a letter of apology for the late shipment. Briefly recap why the shipment was late and how you did everything possible to ship sooner.
Acknowledge in the letter that late shipments do occur but are considered unacceptable by your organisation. Write the letter in a professional yet apologetic tone as you acknowledge the customer's importance or loyalty. Close the letter by offering an incentive for the customer to continue using your service, such as free shipping or a 10 per cent discount on the next order.
Send the letter to the owner of the company or the appropriate manager. Follow up in a few days with a personal phone call if it is a key account.
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