Did Covid Kill Customer Service?
May 12, 2021
Now that things are getting back to the new reality the biggest change we are seeing in the promotional products industry is that supplier customer service is horrible! You would think that after suffering such a major downturn in business that suppliers would be chomping at the bit to take good care of its clients, distributors and their customers.
The two major problems we are experiencing are lack of inventory, which is somewhat understandable, but an agonizing lack of communications about problems with orders. Here’s some examples:
· First of all both FedEx and UPS have become much less reliable. We tend to do a lot of rush orders for clients with critical in-hands dates for events like golf tournaments, sales conventions, etc. We are now telling our clients we just can’t guarantee delivery on time, even if overnight shipping. We are missing out on business as a result and clients are missing out on swag for their events.
· We ordered some tote bags for a client, for a trade show (remember those?) in mid-April. The order had a firm in-hands date of 5/10. We follow-up on orders consistently to be sure they are going as planned. As late as 5/3 the supplier, Bel Promo, told us everything was fine. The day they were to ship we were told they would not ship till 5/19!
· In order to take care of the client above we found some similar bags from a company who happens to have a warehouse in Portland, TN. So I drove there from Nashville and picked them up. We found out we were shorted a box and so the next business day I had to drive back there for one more box.
· We ordered some stadium cups for a new client, El Bracero restaurants in Clarksville, TN. They were for Cinco De Mayo. The day they were to ship (and we had been following up) we were told they did not have the inventory and could not fulfill the order. The customer had to settle for a different color cup they really didn’t want.
· A client just received some key tags which they’ve ordered several times previously. They were imprinted with a totally different color.
· We’ve had pens ordered with blue ink and arrive with black ink. They were for legal documents so it mattered.
· And we had golf towels being delivered the day before a golf tournament to go into a goody bag. At the last minute we were told they were shipping a day late which put the client in a bind for getting their goody bags together.
· It now happens more often than not that suppliers do not have inventory for items chosen by clients.
· And finally, we know this just isn’t affecting us because we are getting requests from potential clients to help them with a rush order because they were told last minute by one of our competitors that the order has been delayed or canceled.
This is frustrating for us and for clients. My best advice is to get started early when you need swag, at least a month in advance, or through no fault of Promo Hounds you may be forced to do without, or with an item that really wasn’t your first choice.
Getting off my soap box now. Have a nice day!