Easing Supply Chain Pain With SMS Customer Updates

Supply chain issues and delays are just part of business these days. See how proactive communication using text messaging can ease customer frustration and save time for your staff.

By: Aaron Weiche - Apr 4
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supply chain

The past few years have been packed with endless challenges and changes for every type of business. One challenge consumers have especially felt are supply chain issues. Many businesses have materials or products with intricate supply chains that once disrupted at any step in the process become troublesome.

Rising costs, delivery delays, low inventory and more have reaped havoc on supply while consumer demand has increased.

This is true across the board for the materials needed to build a new deck, a missing ingredient on your favorite sandwich or the new couch you bought. While I have experienced all of these (my local sandwich shop was out of pickles for 3 days!), none were as frustrating as when our oven stopped working 6 months ago … and we still don’t have our new one we purchased the week it went out.

range delayed
A family of 6 without a working oven for months is not ideal.

Make Supply Chain The Only Issue – Not Just One Of Many

Was waiting the most painful part? No. The worst part was having to do all of the work as a customer to get updates on our range order. We had to leave voicemails and send emails to get the simplest of updates, often that there was no update, for a product we had already paid for in full on day one.

Don’t do this to your customer. Let’s look at how you can deliver a great customer experience even when the supply chain or other process challenges are working against you.

Consumers are adapting to the supply chain issues, but handling it wrong can add to the issues for your customer’s experience and your business. We adapted by buying a pizza oven and an air fryer to accomplish some cooking, while grilling a lot!

Proactive Communication Saves Everyone Time

Who has more time than they know what to do with? Not anyone or any business I know. Smart businesses know that being proactive with possible issues saves them significant time over being reactive to them. Let’s look at the time it took me to get updates on our order in a reactive process, which I did at least 4 or 5 times, compared to a proactive process using SMS updates.

Reactive Order Status Updates

  • :30 seconds to look up the business and call
  • :15 for call to be answered, ask for Tara (our sales person)
  • :60 or more on hold
  • :60 to be told Tara is not available
  • :30 to leave a voicemail with our order info requesting an update
  • :60 for Tara to listen to our voicemail
  • :90 for the order to be looked up
  • :90 for a call back telling us it’s still on backorder (or trading more voicemails!)

Lots of steps, a disjointed interaction and 7-9 minutes taken up. This was our usual experience every 30 -45 days when we were left wondering what was going on. A simple customer touchpoint completely ignored. Imagine when you multiply this by dozens or more customers just like us wanting an update.

Proactive Order Status Updates Via Text

  • :90 seconds for Tara to look up the order status
  • :120 to compose a text with the update
  • :30 to read the update

In less than half the time, one-third the steps and a smooth process we could be proactively updated with a quick text message. Even more time could have been shaved off by having a template already created, saved and ready to use with our texting Shortcuts feature.

I would have loved to receive a monthly order status update text like this example below. Instead I had to drive the entire process, make calls, wait on hold, leave voicemails and then be ready to answer the return call each time.

order update text
Example order status and supply chain delay SMS update

7 Tips For SMS Order Updates

1- Ask for the customer’s permission to text them updates when they purchase/order

2- Create your update process that includes timing and status changes that prompt a text

3- Pre-write texts for your sales or service team to use as a framework – use Shortcuts

4- Be transparent, share facts not blame, and keep messages sincere

5- Deliver updates even when the update is “no update”, you want to control the communication and silence is the worst thing you can do

6- Use a signature to personalize the text message update

7- Make sure they can reply to your texts, be ready to answer questions sincerely and with empathy

Customer Experience Is Everything – Control What You Can Control

At the end of the day, most customers understand you can’t control the entire supply chain. All of them know you can control how easy you make it to work with them. Proactive communication and SMS are a perfect pair to keep the customer experience at 5-stars, even when other parts of the experience fall apart.

Don’t let supply chain issues, scheduling delays and other challenges eat up even more time in your business with reactive communications. Own the updates and maximize your time using text messages your customers read and appreciate.

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