We need to discuss the Elephant In The Room
If you've watched the video, these are some more details on the related challenges we're facing:
Volume of tickets
We're receiving more tickets daily than we currently can handle, and it's trending up. It's causing slower ticket responses and a lot of pressure on the customer service team. The current rate is unlikely to slow down during this season until start of 2024.
We are actively hiring customer service roles. We recently added 2 more team members (Valerie and Emily); there are 2 more in the pipeline. It doesn't mean it'll immediately solve everything. It takes about 2 months to train a new team member before they can run at 100%.
The goal is to strengthen the customers service team until we can achieve daily ticket responses; plus a little more so we can be pro-active.
To address the immediate volume, we have paused 70% of the non-essential activities, moved the release schedule, and allocated team member in various roles (including myself) to help customer service deal with the tickets and create more efficiencies.
We are actively rolling out new tools and systems internally and externally that help create efficiencies, transparency, and give you more control. It will save time and indirectly reduces the need for opening a ticket.
Volume of shipments
As explained in the video, we work with 3rd party fulfillment centers. It means we don't directly own a warehouse with employees pick and packing orders. Instead, we store all our goods at professional logistic (3PL) companies with years of experience in fulfillment and large warehouses. These companies pick, pack, and send all our orders. This allows us to all work remote and quickly scale our operations.
That said, our 3PL in the Netherlands which is responsible for all European and international shipment excluding US domestic is struggling to keep up with the increasing larger batches we need to ship all at once. It's not surprising as this isn't a steady daily or weekly volume, instead it's a spike in volume that consumes a large portion of their day-to-day capacity.
We are actively communicating with the 3PL to give them advance notice and live insight in our expected shipments, so they can prepare additional manpower to temporarily increase their capacity.
Furthermore we're looking into creating smaller batches per production to better control the outflow and segregate estimates.
When an order is in pre/back order, we always send out an email to notify you when it's ready to ship and request you to double-confirm the shipping address. You can confirm it on the hub.wooting.io (the fastest method) or reply the email for confirmation.
It's common for people to change address if the time span exceeds 1 month. There can also be a typo or a difficult foreign address that needs clarification. Dealing with this in advance saves a lot of trouble.
However, the email isn't always noticed; we never have a 100% address confirmation response rate. After a grace period, we will still continue with the shipment. The grace period can vary on how loaded front-end operations are and if the majority of the address confirmed orders were shipped.
Address double check
For countries that involve special characters or complicated addresses, we have a double check process, which is admittedly a manual process. A team member globally scans all the order addresses for obvious mistakes that isn't always picked up by a coded solution.
When it's in this process, it doesn't clearly show it in the hub.wooting.io or inform you of this process.
When an order gets stuck at the fulfillment centers side for whatever the reason is, we aren't immediately notified per order. It'll usually land in a "blocked" or "backorder" state on the fulfillment side. It's not unusual for this section to be more than 0 due to a customer hold or long-tail issue, it often requires manual monitoring and fidgeting, causing it to take a few days before we know an order has an issue.
When this happens, it doesn't clearly show it in the hub.wooting.io or inform you that something changed.
We're working on clarifying these different processes and displaying them on the hub.wooting.io. This includes displaying your order status on a fulfillment level and when there is a problem to automatically communicate this. In addition, we are looking into creating more automations that will help inform you on what to anticipate, such as the address double check.
What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger
All the above are challenges that we're fortunate enough to create solutions for. It's what makes the work fun. We're all looking forward to making these improvements and providing a better experience. Special thanks for your understanding and patience in the meanwhile. Otherwise, I hope this provided some insight to help understand.