Are Supply Chain Disruptions Harming Your Brand’s Customer Experience?

Supply chain issues—one of the many unexpected outcomes of the global pandemic. It is now clear that as long as the virus is disrupting our daily lives, we should expect delays to continue to disrupt the business world. 
 
In a study conducted by The Economist, business leaders say the biggest consequence of supply chain disruption over the last three years is “tarnished brand reputation.” Thirty percent of those surveyed have reported an increase in customer complaints due to supply chain issues, and 23% have noted a decrease in regular customers. The bottom line: Many brands are struggling to cope with major disruptions to their supply chains—despite experiencing significant spikes in demand.  

The continued uncertainty in the new year finds many brand leaders toying with the idea of scaling back marketing and advertising efforts for 2022. But doing so might be a major mistake, says Jeanna Welday, DEFINITION 6 VP Account Director.  

Revise for growth  

“It’s not, ‘Should we pause our marketing efforts?’; the question brands should be asking is, ‘What do our customers need to know, and how do we remain relevant?’” says Jeanna.  

The power of your communication  

“Where we’re seeing some brands failing is with a lack of transparency and consistency,” says Jeanna. “Across channels there’s inconsistent messaging.” Your website might say you ship in three to five days, but with supply delays, the reality is it can take much, much longer. The customer isn’t aware of the backup. All they know is, your website promised three to five days, and their order still hasn’t come in.  

“Facilitating relevant and personalized communication is a big part of what we do for our clients at D6,” says Jeanna. “We need their customers to remain loyal through supply issues, shipping delays, and labor shortages. This isn’t an easy task in a world of ‘I want it now.’ It is important to ensure that customers trust that you will solve their problem. This is done through personalized, timely, honest, and consistent communication, not batch-and-blast.” 

Reconsider your communication strategy  

Previously, marketing may have been focused on the “push” to tell people what they want and what your services are. “What we’re experiencing is a communication change,” says Jeanna. Instead of focusing single-mindedly on sales messaging, brands should consider refining communications to focus on preserving and strengthening the client/brand relationship. Leading with empathy and keeping your customers in the know create confidence and trust in times of uncertainty. 

Not low on inventory, but short on staff? 

When was the last time you revisited your internal communications?  

“Like many companies, one of our clients has experienced an extreme labor shortage across the nation,” explains Jeanna. “To ensure that they’re able to continue to deliver, they’ve revised their strategy internally. That way, they’re delivering not just the best client-facing experience, but the best internal experience.” Focusing on your internal communications strategy leads to better retention, and better retention will result in a more positive perception of your brand externally.  

Strategize ahead of time  

Supply chain woes and labor shortages are the new norm (for now). But socializing the new timeline for customer purchases with long lead times resets expectations and can help avoid conflicts.  

“Brands should no longer look at seasonality as a time to slow marketing efforts. Instead, use the ‘downtime’ to help your clients plan in advance and reduce the strain on supply while also improving their experience. For example, create short reminders or ‘how-to’ videos to push sales and encourage planning in the off-season,” explains Jeanna.  

Get creative, but stay authentic  

The power of digital is stronger than ever and offers lots of room for brand sustainability in a world with limited supply. But that also means there’s a magnifying glass on errors when communications and reality aren’t properly aligned.  

“Brands that stay authentic—while placing their brand message at the heart of their marketing strategy—are the ones that grow loyalists and stay top of mind,” Jeanna adds. The real beauty in that relationship? “If you want to see measurable growth, it’s usually pretty simple: Provide honest and relevant communication to your target audience.” 

One thing remains certain in this time of uncertainty—your customers are listening.  

What is it you need them to hear?  

Meet our digital team: Drop us a line below to schedule a session with DEFINITION 6. 

  
DEFINITION 6 is an award-winning customer experience agency that has combined strategy, creative, and storytelling for more than 20 years. Based in Atlanta and New York City, with satellite offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, DEFINITION 6 is behind high performing experiences and top campaigns for leading brands like Nextdoor, LL Flooring, Paramount+, CBS Sports, and Barnes & Noble College. For more information, visit www.definition6.com. 

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