When you’re dealing with physical products, something will eventually go wrong. Inventory mishaps are common and, to an extent, unavoidable. While enacting best practices is a must, there’s no need to stress too much when certain mishaps occur. With the right business strategies, you can handle these mistakes with ease and even build customer loyalty in the process.

First Things First

First, it’s important to understand what typically goes wrong with inventory. Items can get lost or broken in shipment. Something you don’t have any more might still be listed online. You can inadvertently switch customers’ orders, sending the wrong products to the wrong people. Or you might simply run out of a popular item when it’s topping your sales.

These all have one thing in common: customers who wanted something and didn’t get it. With that in mind, your primary starting point is to address inventory handling and ordering errors.

Keep Close Track

Your best bet for addressing an inventory-related issue is avoiding it to begin with. Although accidents will happen regardless, you can reduce both frequency and likelihood with solid inventory tracking. By relying on automated order management with simple software, for instance, you can take control of the entire sales order fulfillment process from a convenient dashboard. By staying abreast of timelines and stock, you can ensure your goals are practical and your processes are optimized.

A cloud-based system like Turbo Inventory helps you make sure you know what you have, when you have it. Whether you run a veterinary practice, jewelry store, auto repair shop or agricultural facility, Turbo Inventory facilitates communication so your entire team stays on the same page, regardless of what role or function is being performed.

You’ll find many apps work in conjunction with a barcode system. This is a flexible and efficient way to track your stock from the day you receive it to the day it’s purchased, and it can streamline reordering from your suppliers. It’s inexpensive to get into, and on top of that, you can even extend it to include asset control. Knowing not only where your goods are but also your in-house equipment is a plus for any small business owner.

Connect With The Customer

When something goes wrong, your response to your customer is vital. Errors, contrary to how it may feel, are an excellent business opportunity. After all, everyone makes mistakes. It’s the way you react to those mistakes that can be what sets your business apart.

As Survey Monkey suggests, start by connecting with your customer. If they aren’t aware of the issue yet, alert them to it as quickly as possible. Ideally, come to them immediately with the solution. Depending on the circumstances, it may be wise to offer choices to the customer for how they’d like to move forward.

Take stock-outs as an example. This can kill your customers’ level of satisfaction. However, if the item the customer wanted isn’t available, you can offer alternative items, credit, or a refund. This gives the customer agency and lets them know you’re not assuming their needs or wants for them.

Also take time to identify the issue in your warehouse. Was stock misplaced? Do you need to adjust your reorder points for lag time? Or do you need more stock when you reorder? Does staff need additional or different training? Review where the error occurred and ensure you’re better prepared next time.

Go Above and Beyond

Simply fixing the problem may be enough to make it go away, but going above and beyond will build customer loyalty. In our missing inventory example, you could pick alternatives that are nicer or pricier than the original item, but honor the original price point. Or, if they opt for a refund, you could send them an additional credit to go toward something in the future. This is a great move, because they get something for their trouble, and you avoid losing business.

Remember to be patient, assume other customers might hear about how you handle things, and never take things personally. Great interpersonal skills and dedication to making the situation right will serve you well in moving past these problems. Fox Business points out even challenging customers can be won over with the right attitude and action.

While inventory mishaps are bound to occur, it’s possible to minimize them and their repercussions. Develop an efficient system, identify why errors occur when they do, and ensure top customer service. Next time a problem comes up, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle it, and you might add more customers as a result.

Editor Note

This is a guest post from Vanessa Holwell from HiringSquad.net. A little about the author
Vanessa Holwell and her husband, Rick, created HiringSquad.net after losing their jobs during the financial crisis in 2008. The site is designed to be a forum for people to share advice on how to get hired, provide job search resources, and give you the tools you need to get the job you want.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Leave a Comment