How to Keep Customers Happy During Labor Shortages and Other Disruptions

09.07.2021 4 min

Even as businesses and economies rebuild after the most challenging months of the pandemic, regular business operations remain a distant dream. While the job market is booming and consumer confidence is hitting highs not seen since before the pandemic, a number of resource shortages are holding local businesses back from a full return to normal.

Labor shortages have swept virtually every industry. At the same time, supply chains and retail shipping have each suffered slowdowns in their operations, creating a trickle-down effect for local businesses that may persist into 2022. Research suggests that the ongoing labor shortage is one of the main reasons these supply chains and shipping services are struggling to meet demand—and the end result is poor customer experiences that cost those companies business.

Local businesses can’t afford to lose any more incoming revenue than what they’ve already suffered throughout the pandemic. While labor, supply chain and other disruptions are a serious threat to your customer satisfaction efforts, it’s still possible to maintain strong customer satisfaction and retain existing customers in spite of your diminished customer experience.

Read on for four useful tips.

1. Under Promise & Over Deliver (Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep)

As a business owner, it’s tempting to promise fast deliveries and rapid service when your customers come calling. This impulse can beat even stronger when you’re desperate to build back revenue after a financially punishing pandemic.

But if you end up unable to uphold those promises, you might actually cause more damage to your business than if you had been honest and realistic in the first place. While customers may not be happy with long delays to get the products or services they’re seeking, they’re likely to be even more upset if they’re promised a certain timeline that your business is eventually unable to meet.

Be honest about the timelines your customers should be prepared for. When in doubt, quote a conservative timeline to give yourself a cushion if supply chains and other services experience a slowdown beyond your control.

2. Be Transparent About Your Business Limitations

Your customers are no stranger to the constraints brought on by the pandemic and its economic ripple effects. This can make it easy to be transparent with your customers when discussing the ongoing challenges you’re facing.

Whether your business is limited by a labor shortage, supply chain issues, shipping delays or other disruptions, leverage your existing communication channels—particularly owned media such as social media, email and your company blog—to explain the situation to your customers.

Bear in mind that your plight is shared by many other businesses, including, in all likelihood, your competitors. When faced with the same constraints, businesses can separate themselves from the pack by emphasizing strong communication with their customers.

3. Alert Customers to Delays as Soon as Possible

In some cases, business disruptions might catch you by surprise. Shipped items can get lost or slowed down en route to their destination; service technicians may leave your business suddenly to join a competitor.

No matter how carefully you plan and manage your business, many companies are currently operating with a small margin of error. When disruptions do crop up, it’s in your best interest to notify customers as soon as possible.

Abrupt business closures, rescheduled service appointments and delayed shipping arrivals won’t earn you a lot of praise from your customers, but again, it’s not only about the business disruption—it’s also about how your business responds, and whether or not your customers feel that your business cares about their experience.

4. Add New Services to Manage Customers—And Their Expectations

While business disruptions may complicate your existing customer experience, your business may have an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction by seeking out creative solutions to your problems.

For restaurants facing labor shortages, for example, long waitlists can be a source of frustration for your customers. But adopting a restaurant waitlist app can help alleviate some of this frustration by giving customers a way to check wait times and add their name to the list before they arrive.

Similarly, businesses could account for shipping delays by offering a discount on a future purchase as a form of apology—and with the goal of retaining that customer’s business after a negative business experience.

While customers are sure to be disappointed by limited service hours, slow deliveries and long waits for their new purchases, many will also be understanding of the challenges faced by your business. You can earn their good graces by being transparent about these challenges, communicating clearly, and testing alternative ways to continue delivering a great customer experience.

Looking for help with your communications and messaging? A digital advertising partner can help you leverage advertising and marketing channels to communicate with customers and strengthen your local brand reputation. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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