Delivery bottlenecks: how to explain to your customers that no goods are coming

Communicate supply bottleneck

In the Corona crisis many companies are struggling with supply bottlenecks. Use these 5 tips to communicate supply chain delays and failures – without losing valuable customers.

The current situation in world trade could hardly be worse: no computer chips, no wood, not even cardboard for boxes is available in sufficient quantities. Add to this the chaos on container ships and at ports. This puts many companies in a tight spot. What do I do when the goods stop coming soon?? How do I explain to my customers that their product cannot be delivered – and in such a way that they remain customers??

One thing is clear: you should not gloss over anything. I advise my customers who are affected by delivery problems to be radically honest and give them hope: If you do it right, you can emerge stronger from the situation. Get it right with these five tips.

Content: What you can expect in this article

1. Do an inventory analysis

Who all is part of your supply chain and where does it or could it falter?? Think about it now and gather all the facts – even if the cardboard crisis and the chip shortage do not affect you (yet).

Play through alternative scenarios from A to Z: Where else could you get your goods? Would you have to increase the price? Even though this step is not yet part of the actual communication, it is exorbitantly important – after all, it is only with this information that you will be able to communicate in a targeted manner later on at all.

2. Approach customers as a precaution

Even if you are not affected by the supply bottlenecks, you should speak plainly to your customers. Educate them on the current situation and let them know that it could affect you and your customers too.

Don’t worry, first of all, the current situation is in the media anyway, so your clients are probably already wondering if there might be trouble, without any action on their part. After all, all suppliers have the same problems. The winner is the one who is prepared and gives the best feeling to his customers.

You could write this to your customers:

Dear Mr. Mustermann,

You have probably already heard about it in the media: The Corona pandemic is currently leading to a global shortage of goods. Of course, this also worries us as Meier-Schmidt GmbH. Therefore we are in regular and close exchange with our three main suppliers in Italy, Sweden and Korea.

We analyzed the entire supply chains and looked for potential difficulties. So far there are no problems. Your order is therefore expected to be delivered on time at the agreed time.

Should there still be a delay in the coming weeks, we will of course contact you immediately.

3. Be honest

You are in the middle of a crisis, your supply chain is interrupted and you don’t know how you are going to process all the orders? Communicate this honestly. Don’t put off your customers and don’t put the blame on others.

Please also inform your customers if you cannot estimate when it will be delivered. Always remain sober and friendly and express your understanding for the situation of your customer. And treat all customers equally fairly here – anything else will get around.

You could write this to your clients:

Dear Mrs. Musterfrau,

We had hoped that the global shortage of goods would spare us. But now our supply chain is also interrupted. The particularly efficient computer chips that we need for our products are currently not available anywhere.

At the moment we also cannot estimate when the required parts will reach us. We will therefore not be able to meet the agreed date with you on 20.12 cannot be met. We are really sorry.

As soon as we get new information, we will contact you directly.

4. Offer alternatives

Show your customers that you care. Offer alternative products – even if the alternative may not be as attractive as the one ordered.

As a car dealer, present a young used car when your customer will otherwise have to wait two years for his configured new car. Another advantage is that your customers will not call you several times a week to ask for alternative options.

You could write this to your customers

Dear Mr. Mustermann,

We are sorry to inform you that our delivery problems continue to persist. It is also not yet foreseeable when your ordered car will arrive. In some circumstances it may still be a few months.

If you don’t want to wait that long, we have another offer for you: Currently we have the same model with very similar equipment as a yearly car in our yard.

Unfortunately not in red as you requested, but with a black paint job. If this is still an option for you, feel free to contact us.

5. Contact us regularly

You can also avoid unstoppable phones and overflowing mailboxes by keeping your customers up to date on your own initiative. Send weekly e-mails in which you inform about news. Again, the first rule is to communicate transparently, honestly and in a friendly manner.

In fact, an e-mail stating that nothing is happening is also good. The main thing is not to make customers feel forgotten. Be sure to thank your customers for their patience when the goods are available again.

You could write this to your customers:

Dear Mr. Mustermann,

Christmas is getting closer and closer – but unfortunately we still have no information about when the game console you ordered will be available again. As soon as we know if we can deliver your order in time for the 24th.12 can deliver, you will receive a message from us.

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