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In an ideal world, eCommerce order fulfillment and shipping would be error-free. Every parcel would contain all the items in the customer's order and arrive in perfect condition at the correct address. In reality, although declining error rates is an eCommerce trend, mistakes still happen. 

Fortunately, you can turn a mistake such as sending a package to the wrong shipping address into an opportunity to create a closer bond with your customer. You can create a great customer experience from an otherwise frustrating incident with excellent customer service. 

Common causes of shipping errors

The first thing to know about what causes shipping errors is that it doesn't matter. Whether the fault is in your fulfillment or if it's a customer error, you should follow the tips below to create a great customer experience.

Still, it's helpful to understand why a package might be delivered to the wrong address so you can work to minimize shipping mistakes. There are three primary causes of misdelivered eCommerce orders:

  • Delivery error. The carrier puts a shipping envelope in the wrong mailbox or drops a package at the incorrect address.
  • Customer error. The customer makes a mistake when entering their delivery address, such as a typo in the street number.
  • Fulfillment error. A packer might accidentally switch the labels on two boxes, sending two orders to the wrong address.

In the case of a delivery error, you can follow up with the carrier to compensate you for the mistake. If your fulfillment company caused the mix-up, it should offer a make-good. Find out if your 3PL offers fulfillment guarantees to pay you for errors like sending a package to the wrong shipping address.

If your customer entered their address incorrectly, your 3PL or the delivery driver might catch and fix the mistake. However, some packages will be delivered to the wrong shipping address, despite your best efforts to run a tight fulfillment and shipping operation.

How to turn a shipping mistake into a chance to increase customer loyalty

Savvy business owners are, of course, always looking for ways to cut costs. Keeping operating costs low is an excellent way to keep your profits healthy while offering competitive prices. 

However, going cheap on customer service when you're resolving a package sent to the wrong address could cost you more in the long run. If the customer has a bad experience, you might lose them for good. On the other hand, if you work to fix the problem quickly, you could earn a loyal customer for life.

It's essential to factor the cost of customer acquisition into your customer service budget and policies. Keeping an existing customer happy could be worth more to your business over time than bringing in a new customer. Here are some tips for giving your shoppers a great experience, even when something goes wrong.

1. Send order tracking emails so customers can report problems quickly

Order tracking emails are a great way to set consumer expectations about last-mile delivery. They can also help you find problems quickly, which will make them easier to resolve. If the customer gets a package delivery notification and doesn't have the package, they are on notice that there's an issue and can notify you.

2. Give your customer an easy way to contact you

You might not have someone answering the phone 24/7, but you should provide a live chat or email option for order troubleshooting. It's okay to offer FAQs to answer common questions, but don't bury your contact information under layers of FAQs. Include service contact information in your order tracking emails as well as on your website.

3. Provide humble, empathetic, and personalized service

While the first contact might be a chatbot, provide a process to quickly escalate to a human via email, chat, or phone, if needed. Quickly connect your customer with someone who can resolve their issue. 

The human touch in customer service communication reassures customers. Make sure your representatives are trained to sympathize with the customer's frustrations and provide support. If the mistake was in your fulfillment warehouse, take responsibility and apologize. If the customer made the error, don't take a punitive approach. Be calm, reassuring, and empathetic.

4. React quickly

When a package gets delivered to the wrong address, fixing the problem fast is essential to turn a mishap into a great customer experience. For example, if the customer had chosen expedited shipping, use an expedited service level to correct the problem. Also, accelerate order fulfillment if you need to ship a whole new parcel, and put this customer at the front of the line.

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5. Replace rather than re-route the package

One way to fix a delivery to the wrong address is to immediately re-ship the order. Rather than waiting weeks for the package delivered to the incorrect address to be found and re-routed, get a replacement order to your customer within a few days. A speedy response will go a long way toward repairing the customer relationship.

6. Offer a coupon code or other form of compensation

If the shipping error was not the customer's fault, offer them compensation for their trouble. A unique coupon code for a discount on their next order is an excellent choice. 

Or, depending on the severity of the hassle caused by shipping their order to the wrong address, you could refund all or part of the cost of the order. Another option is to include a handwritten note or a bonus item in the replacement package. The optimal offer will depend on your business and the customer's situation. 

7. Follow up again after the problem is resolved

Don't close the ticket until you're sure the customer is satisfied. Instead, follow up after the package gets to the correct address. If possible, have the person who handled the initial complaint reach out again. 

In eCommerce, customer service issues are a chance to connect on a more personal level with your customers. Your customer can end up with a more favorable impression of your brand if you handle the situation with speed, professionalism, and kindness. Make the best use of this opportunity by keeping in touch with your customer after fixing the problem.Use your fulfillment and shipping strategy to improve the customer experience

Of course, accurate order fulfillment and fast delivery are even better ways to keep your customers happy. You can't prevent every wrong delivery, but you can improve your fulfillment by working with a 3PL with a low error rate.

When you choose a new fulfillment company, find out its verified error rate. Ask how the fulfillment center handles mis-picks and shipping mistakes. Accurate fulfillment can save you money, enhance your customers' experience, and improve your consumer ratings. 

And with the right fulfillment partner and a proactive customer service strategy, you can turn a delivery to the wrong address into an opportunity to increase sales and grow customer loyalty.



About the author

Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an e-commerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of e-commerce. He has years of experience in e-commerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.