Damaged packaging and the cost to your business

Damaged Packaging

What do you do when you discover that one of your parcels, and perhaps its contents as well, have got badly damaged on route to your customer? If it’s just the packaging that’s suffered, you might breathe a sigh of relief at what seems to be a near miss; if the contents are also damaged, it’s easy to just deal with the immediate situation by sorting out replacements as soon as possible.

But before you move on to the next matter in hand, it’s worth taking time to see what else you need to do, because the potential costs of a damaged parcel can easily extend well beyond that one order.

Protect your reputation
Whether it’s your fault or not, and unfair as it may sometimes seem, your reputation is at stake every time a customer receives one of your parcels in a damaged state, even when whatever it is that they have ordered is perfectly usable.

Even if you’re using a courier or the Royal Mail to make your delivery, as the seller, you have responsibility for the fulfilment of your customer’s order. So if the goods have left you in perfect condition and arrived damaged, it’s no good just telling your customer that they need to take it up with whoever delivered it.

It has always been said that a well managed problem can do more for the reputation of a business than any number of transactions which go through perfectly. Not, of course, that you should be deliberately causing problems in order to fix them. But if for any reason you do have a problem, the way you manage it may not only delight your existing customer, but even gain you new ones.

And the reverse is equally true; handle a complaint badly and you could increase your problems tenfold.

These days, every product and every company can get reviewed in such a way that all the world can see. You may have given your customers the opportunity to say what they think about your products on your own website, or you might have signed up to an independent review site, like Trustpilot or Feefo.

If you haven’t done either of those, don’t think you’re not open to public criticism, because social media sites are also very popular avenues for disgruntled customers to let off steam.

Should the worst happen, and an unhappy customer does let off steam in public, you need to be seen to be trying to engage with him or her, and resolve their problem. Even if they ignore your messages, better that than you being seen to ignore them. Most people will appreciate that you are trying to resolve a situation and that you take your customers’ concerns seriously.

Take preventative action
Once you’ve done everything you can to manage the fallout from that one damaged order, you next want to see if there is anything you could have done better to have prevented it in the first place – and if there is, make sure you do it better in the future.

The first thing to do is to review your existing packaging and see if it’s up to the job. Naturally, there are times when, if a courier is determined to treat your parcel with the least possible respect, no amount of packaging will make any difference. But under normal conditions, you want to make sure you have done everything you can – and maybe a little more – to ensure safe transit.

The questions you need to ask yourself include: Is the outer packaging strong enough to hold the weight of what’s inside? Is it tough enough to take the occasional bump, knock or blow to the outside? If it’s likely to end up on a pallet, will it stand up to the likely weight from above should it be on the bottom level? And is more protective packaging or void fill required inside?

If you’re not sure, you could try subjecting it to a few tests – like dropping it from about waist height a few times, placing a heavy object on it, striking it with a few gentle to medium strength blows. If you’re not happy with how it looks at the end of that, you may need something a little stronger. And if you’re not sure what is likely to be strong enough, any good packaging supplier should be able to advise you and provide you with some tried and tested postal packaging solutions.

And if you’re not sure whether to trust them, take a look at some of those review sites and find the one with the best reputation!

If, at the end of all that, you’re satisfied with your packaging and you’re still having problems, then it’s time to take a closer look at your courier and see if you can find someone with a gentler touch.

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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