It is not a normal occurrence for a company to try to undermine themselves, but when you are outsourcing something, you want to make sure that your outsource company loves your company as much as you do. Recently we were doing outsource shipping and handling on some of our products, and also just canceled all of it yesterday.
Sometimes outsourcing is not the thing to do.
While we do pull pack and ship a lot of our stuff, we wanted to see if we could rely on a huge brand name shipper to do our work for us to help cut some of the overhead of doing our own pull pack and ship. What ended up happening was a huge increase in customer dissatisfaction that was measurable, noticeable, and cost us customers in an economic time when customers are everything. An unhappy customer can and will lead to a decrease in sales and an increase in negative customer comments just about everywhere you can think of on the internet.
The bottom line is that they did not love my company as much as I love my company. And it showed, in every interaction they had with customers on our behalf our dissatisfaction rate shot through the roof. When you usually only have 3 or 4 ticked off customers per year, having those every quarter is a noticeable defect of the outsourcing that we did. While we pull back from what has ended up being a pretty bad decision for us, we need to take a look at what drove customer unhappiness.
The big box outsource shipping company did save us money, but not enough money to deal with unhappy customers. They were unhappy because items arrived on their side as being damaged, or their automated equipment for pull and pack was not sensitive enough to deal with comic books, and all our comic books were bagged and boarded, making them a bit more difficult to damage. Shipping damaged items especially when dealing with the comic book segment of the population is a very bad thing to have happen. Comic book people are fanatical, and you have to take extra care with them to make sure that they are happy.
Our big box shipper just could not get this through their head, and quantities of items went out damaged, which resulted in unhappy customers. The big box shipper did not care, they still got money from the process, money we will not recoup.
If you are going to outsource any aspect of your company, you need to make sure that they are as much in love with your company as you are. If you are shipping physical items, then you need to make sure that they are good enough to understand the audience that you sell to. Any disconnect in these two issues will result in a bad situation that you are going to spend time trying to repair, if it can be repaired with your customers at all.
Needless to say, all our stuff out of their warehouse is on its way back to us, we know that a good number of items are being returned damaged which is an additional cost because we can never sell them because they are damaged.
Outsourcing was not the thing for us to do, and odds are highly likely we will never do anything like this again. Because we love our company, and we respect our customers, obviously our outsource company didn’t feel the same.
- How Comic Book Ink used social media to save their store (techwag.com)
- A Multi Service approach to social media (techwag.com)
- An inside look at comic books (salon.com)
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)