Supply chain disruptions can happen anywhere, no matter the source, whether originating from the factory workforce, machinery failure, elevated demand, or breakdowns in transport logistics. For producers and customers, the result is the same—an undesirable impact on product availability, cost, or both at once. This situation doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon, and it’s the sort of thing that creates an infernal machine for teams in customer relations. What’s more, a temporary drop in earnings can quickly lead to a veritable financial abyss. How? The negative feedback loop generated by stock shortages creates additional inquiries for staff to monitor, additional complaints to handle and, ultimately, the loss of custom and disappointed customers. So we’re going to give you four tips to help you take control. 

headlines about stock shortages

Headlines stock shortages, October 2021

1. Communicate Effectively

To avoid additional costs and create a climate of trust between company and customers, the first priority is to keep customers up to date as soon as possible –well in advance of a crippling shortage– and to task appropriate teams with managing those conversations. We recommend the use of SMS because of its ubiquity and consequent ability to reach almost 100% of customers.

This channel doesn’t restrict communication, doesn’t add to voice contact volumes, and allows the brand to maintain control of data and budget. For customers, SMS guarantees a simple and straightforward means of contacting the company, through a centralized and continuous conversational link. In fact, conversational SMS avoids repeat calls, improves satisfaction scores by 30% to 50%, and reduces processing time by 5% to 15% thanks to the built-in contextualization it provides.

2. Anticipate Perceptively

An out-of-stock product can prompt the full range of customer reactions, but it’s up to the brand to initiate communication and manage the resolution pathway. That may mean offering the customer the option to wait, to cancel, to switch to an alternative product, or to consolidate several deliveries together.

Coupling an agile Self-Service channel with Conversational SMS enables your brand to position itself –and prove itself– as a proactive force intervening on behalf of its customers with practical and timely solutions, rather than a passive observer at the mercy of market conditions.

3. Equip Intelligently

Even when a brand directs its customers through clearly communicated resolution pathways, it must still anticipate an influx of inquiries, information requests, and complaints.

Each additional demand on operational bandwidth requires prioritization, whether it be by type of customer, urgency, scenario, history, value, etc. Traditional tools are generally not well-adapted to process such a large amount of information and, if they do, encounter visibility and slowdown issues. Neither are they designed to provide operations management with dashboards that enable better decision-making through at-a-glance overviews of backlog, deadline adherence, processing time and so on. This kind of overview is key to determining priorities and putting energy and effort where they bring the greatest returns.

4. Automate Efficiently

Automation is essential to maximizing cost control and processing time improvements. Options include adding bots to the conversational journey, better management of back-office workflows, integration of Self-Service journeys, intelligent task distribution methods, and RPA deployments to handle repetitive or administrative actions.

It’s true that automation generally requires an initial investment. That’s why it’s important to examine different solutions, to balance deployment time against the permanence of issues solved, and to evaluate the cost in relation to possible and probable savings.

Let’s go!

Putting these points into practice means adopting an agile and adaptable operational approach. In this, innso is a major ally. Deeply experienced in the world of customer relations, our teams have the expertise to help you build a system that is perfectly adapted to your unique business needs, tools, and customer requirements. Our platform can orchestrate your entire operation, offer intelligently automated workflow management, and link those workflows to your customer conversations.

So don’t let your teams get overwhelmed by supply issues. Give them the means to deal with out-of-stock situations. Get in touch to find out how our operations-first approach produces better returns for you and your customers.