Handling Product Recalls Faster

If you heard your company had to recall a product, how would you feel? Would you be trudging across the metaphorical fields into which the horses have bolted—the sound of a slamming stable door ringing in your ears—wondering how you can retrieve the rapidly dispersing animals, before they run past the meadows within your reach and escape into the unknown?   Product recall is not a pastime companies relish. This is not surprising, because it is a direct result of something going wrong. And the manufacturer or supplier ends up footing the bill for replacing, repairing, or refunding the defective product1.

If the product recall process doesn't run smoothly, a business is at risk of:

1: Damaged Brand and Financial Costs When products fail to meet appropriate quality or safety standards, companies need to act quickly to ensure they are removed from circulation. Depending on the severity of the product's shortcoming, a failure to act swiftly and decisively may damage the company's reputation. There may also be longer-term economic harm from a reduction in future sales, plus any court costs, fines, and compensatory payments to affected customers.

2: Unhappy Customers If a general product recall communication doesn't manage customer expectations of the recall process, the company could field far more inbound contacts within a short time period than they can cope with. If this happens, customers may be put on hold or be kept waiting in an online chat facility for longer than is either usual or acceptable.

3: Unhappy Employees The flipside of unhappy customers is unhappy employees. A company's infrastructure capacity will affect the way in which inbound calls and contacts arising from a product recall event are dealt with2. Without an appropriate procedure in place for systematic and managed contact of hundreds or thousands of affected customers, considerable stress may be placed on customer service and operations teams.

Taking the pain out of product recalls

So, how can you drive an effective response when you discover that a product recall is necessary? How do you make sure that the recall message is appropriate for each customer, within the context of their history with your company?   Having a complete picture of customer interactions at your fingertips should help you to implement the most effective product recall strategy. Fast.   A powerful customer engagement tool can help speed up the product recall process and ensures you can reach your clients in the best way—while the metaphorical horses are still easily retrievable.   With the right information the process is simple:    

1: Identify affected customers
2: Assess relevant conversations
3: Set priority levels for the audience
4: Create automated targeted messaging
5:Communicate!   Without the right information, this process is manual and laborious.

Co-ordinating information from diverse systems

It should be fairly straightforward to identify who has purchased the product, via a company's order management system (OMS). But this is just one area of customer information that the company can leverage—and to provide communications tailored to customers' specific needs, a more comprehensive approach is most effective.  

Data collated may include records from the OMS and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, along with transcripts from discrete channels such as webchats and customer contact forms.

Gnatta is a technological solution designed to collate customer information from all of a company's systems and channels. It gives the customer service team access to a comprehensive picture of each customer's interactions with the company.   Data collated may include records from the OMS and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, along with transcripts from discrete channels such as webchats and customer contact forms.

Prioritising customers for messaging around product recalls

In the case of a product recall, Gnatta enables customers who have purchased the product to be segmented and prioritised—for example, those who have previously reported a problem with the product, VIP customers, and those whose pending order has gone on hold.  

By using a customer engagement tool, customer expectations can be managed, and the highest priority recalls can be dealt with first. This minimises risk of customer dissatisfaction and reduces stress levels among the customer service and operations teams.  

Messaging can—and should—be tailored to individual customers' needs, with content placeholders enabling a personalised message to be generated for each recipient of a bulk mailer. With all the customer interaction data to hand, this is straightforward to achieve.

The practical logistics around product recalls

As an integrated customer communications system, Gnatta also enables companies to implement practical logistics solutions for recalls. For example, the timeframe for a recall can be personalised, based upon priority. The actions required for a recall can also be linked to customer data—for example, they can be offered collection by their preferred courier. Or personalised emails can be used to instruct customers to return items for the attention of a specific customer service team, based on their company conversation history.

This solution can also help keep affected goods separate from new stock. By ensuring the system is not overwhelmed by a disorganised product recall, defective products can be disposed of or reconditioned as appropriate, and will not accidentally be returned to the wrong stock location and reshipped.

Where product reliability and customer safety are at risk, speed is of the essence. Using an effective customer engagement tool is a vital way to manage the complete conversation your company has with clients and ensure their expectations for customer service are never found lacking—even if a product should unfortunately need to be recalled.

To find out how you can optimise your customer engagement, including product recalls, get in touch with us today.

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Deepa Khatri