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How to Manage Customer Shipping Expectations

by Ann-Ghilianne Laguerre

How to Manage Customer Shipping Expectations

Like all small to medium-sized business owners, you put your customers and their satisfaction as your top priority. You know the importance of quality customer service in positive and negative experiences. Unfortunately, sometimes, things happen that are outside of your control that can frustrate you and your customers. When it comes to shipping, there are a lot of uncontrollable variables. However, understanding some common reasons for unexpected shipping changes will help you learn how to manage customer shipping expectations easily so everyone is happy.

Freight Rate Changes Alter Customer Shipping Expectations

Freight rates are determined using a variety of factors, such as weight, dimensions, type of cargo being shipped, the distance the cargo is traveling, and time sensitivity. Along with these factors, freight rates are also impacted and determined by the current state of the logistics industry and capacity demands. So, if you’re shipping during a peak shipping season like the holidays, you’re more likely to pay higher rates due to tightened capacity.

Sometimes, freight rates can change rapidly, depending on what’s happening in the logistics industry. For example, capacity tightened significantly during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because carriers were working hard to keep essential items on store shelves nationwide. This made it more expensive for business shippers to move their products. However, many business shippers were able to keep their goods moving by partnering with a third-party logistics provider (3PL), who has the ability to source capacity and find available lanes for you.

Unexpected Shipping Delays

The dreaded shipping delay is something nobody wants to have happen, but unfortunately, delays occur. Shipping delays can happen for many reasons, such as:

-Weather – Bad weather impacts freight shipping in big ways. Unsafe travel conditions, road closures, terminal closures, trucks and planes not being able to travel, and a backup of shipments can all happen due to bad weather. If your cargo travels through an area experiencing bad weather, your shipment could be delayed in getting to your customer.

-Public health initiatives – As we learned during 2020 and the start of the pandemic, essential items can fly off the shelves rapidly. Who gets those items restocked? Truckers. Sometimes, the logistics industry as a whole has to switch gears to address public health initiatives, like shipping essential items and getting COVID-19 vaccines where they need to be.

-Traffic – That’s right. Traffic isn’t just a headache for you. It’s also a headache for truck drivers trying to move your cargo. When traffic slows or halts transit temporarily, it can also delay the delivery of your shipment.

-Inaccurate labeling – Carriers rely on properly packaged and labeled shipments to complete shipments on time. If your shipment isn’t labeled correctly, or if the label has been damaged by water during transit, it can delay your shipment.

If any of these unexpected shipping delays occur, the best thing to do is alert your customer as soon as possible. Keeping the lines of communication open helps make your brand stand out as helpful, honest, and willing to go the extra mile for your customers.

Damaged Cargo

While carriers do their best to ensure your cargo arrives at its destination in good condition, sometimes damage happens. Because your customer will have to sign off on the cargo upon delivery, the best practices to share with your customers before they sign off on the cargo are:

Look for visible damage to the packaging, such as tears in the shrink wrap or dents in boxes.
Take photos of the packaging before opening it.
Check for concealed damage or damage that can only be found once the cargo is opened.
Take photos of the damaged product.
Keep all original packaging.
Make detailed notes about any visible and concealed damage on the proof of delivery form.

You and your customer will need to file a claim directly with the carrier, so having all the above will make the damaged freight claims process much smoother. Remember, you must report damage to the carrier quickly, often within 5 days of delivery. Be sure to incorporate some easy ways to avoid freight damage and loss claims into your shipping protocol and communicate the claims process with your customer so you optimize transparency in the process.

FreightCenter Can Help You Manage Customer Shipping Expectations

Working with a 3PL like FreightCenter helps you manage customer shipping expectations by streamlining your entire shipping process. Our expert freight agents understand what’s happening in the logistics industry and stay up-to-date on the latest capacity issues and variables affecting freight rates.

In addition, you get better visibility into your freight shipments with access to our transportation management system (TMS), which has a fully integrated SMS text tracking feature. Knowing where your freight is every step of the way helps you keep your customers happy even in the event of unforeseen delays. And happy customers are always good for business!

Let our experts help you manage customer shipping expectations by simplifying your business shipping. Getting started is easy; just call us at 800-716-7608 or use our free online freight quote tool here.

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