Regardless of whether you partner with a 3PL company, you’ll need to deal with your customers directly when supplier errors lead to issues with your fulfilment. The first thing you must do in each case is succinctly explain what happened and why: this explanation needn’t be outright critical of the supplier or company responsible, but must have satisfactory detail.
“We don’t know what happened with your package” or “Something went wrong in the supply process” aren’t acceptable statements to make — not in isolation, at least. This will simply make you look incompetent and indifferent about the level of customer service you’re providing. You need to show that you’ve looked into the matter and identified the problem.
You shouldn’t mention the company responsible at all, because it would only serve to worsen your working relationship (and in the event that you’re dropshipping, the customer might not know that you’re not the supplier). In fact, you should take full responsibility for making things better. You could offer the affected customer a discount, or expedited shipping for their next order, or a guaranteed delivery date — anything to win back their trust.
Communicate calmly with the parties involved
Lastly, whether you’re dealing with suppliers directly or communicating through a 3PL, it’s absolutely essential that you communicate calmly and professionally. It’s understandable if you get angry or frustrated because your image is suffering due to a mistake someone else made, but expressing that anger and frustration will only make things worse — particularly when you’re addressing customers who share that anger, of course.
It’s all about accepting what’s happened and looking to the future. How can you get things back on track? And when that’s done, what can you learn from the situation? Perhaps the error stemmed from a smaller error you’d made at an earlier juncture, and you could prevent it from happening again by making some changes to your operational process.
Your goal should be to become unflappable. Modern ecommerce sellers have a lot to deal with, fighting to compete with huge businesses like Amazon and keep up in an industry that must meet ever-changing standards and perpetually adapt to shifting consumer demands. If a few lost packages cause you to lose your composure, you’ll never last.