Customer Retention: Keep ’Em And Hold ’Em
To combat the problem, Gisholt holds a meeting with senior department managers to discuss fulfillment errors. Combined with a fulfillment system that allows CSRs, purchasers or anyone else in the distribution center to report errors, the meeting serves to dig deeply to eliminate the root of fulfillment problems.
For example, if customers say they’ve received the wrong product, it might superficially appear to be a picking error, Gisholt says. But during the error meeting, his team closely examines the problem and may find that the product had the wrong barcode applied in the receiving process. And the root cause of the problem is that a vendor didn’t affix a UPC code. By drilling deeper, Gisholt’s team determines the warehouse has many items on the shelves that have the wrong barcodes on them, but they catch the problem, relabel those items and take follow-up action to make sure the vendor barcodes these items in the future.
“Operating in a continuous improvement mode for many years in an intense, multifocused, multidepartmental meeting has allowed us to eliminate a lot of the sources for errors,” Gisholt points out. And as errors disappear, customer satisfaction and retention increase.
Knowing when to reach out and touch your customers can be a tricky proposition, as any catalog circulation manager can tell you. But what about communication beyond the catalog?
Faith notes that because Headsets.com’s products have such a long shelf life, he likes to remind his customers that he appreciates their business between purchases. In April, for instance, he mailed a letter to his customers outlining what the company had been able to achieve with their support. While he envisioned it solely as a thank-you letter, his marketing team kept insisting he add an offer to the piece. Because he didn’t want customers to think his sincerely grateful letter was a ploy for sales, he eliminated any special offers from the piece.