Tag Archives: customer service

Be Like Two Turtle Doves – Spread the Love

On Day 2, the true love gifted two turtle doves. This festive season, be like the doves, and spread the love with suppliers and customers.

two turtle doves

The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with Day 1 here.

“On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…two turtle doves.”

Turtle doves traditionally represent love and faithfulness because they mate for life, and work together to build nests and raise their young.

What’s that got to do with procurement, we hear you cry? Well, if you’re looking to build world-class procurement performance, you need to value your relationships. Be it your suppliers, customers, or internal and external stakeholders, they should be the focus of your attention.

Take the Lead from the Turtle Doves

If you’re not feeling the love in your supplier relationship, you’ll need to put some hard work in. As Tania Seary says here, there will come a time when the romance fades. But you can bring it back to make sure that you and your supplier are working in tandem.

It takes time and commitment to build this relationship, there are no short cuts. And once you have built trust, you’ll need to work even harder to maintain it. This is where good Supplier Relationship Management comes in. Here’s a brief refresh:

Building the relationship (much like our turtle doves) helps build that feeling of faithfulness, and both parties are less likely to drop the relationship at the first sign of trouble.

So what are some of the tactics you can use to keep you relationship fresh and mutually beneficial:

  • Spend time with your supplier, and make time to visit their offices/factories/premises. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Give due reward for good work. Often a simple thanks will work best, but how about letting them in on the ground floor of future contracts?
  • Be open, honest, and truthful. Nothing destroys a relationship quicker than a lack of trust.
  • Got a problem? Invite them into see if they can help with a solution. You never know, you might just get a great gift of innovation from them.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

And it’s not just your suppliers that you need to build strong relationships with. Your customers, internal and external, are just as important for procurement. The customer is always right after all (even when it seems like they aren’t!).

Customer (or stakeholder) engagement comes down to three critical skills for procurement professionals:

  1. Good communication
  2. Effective questioning
  3. Stakeholder mapping

Want to know more? Funny you should ask that – you can catch up on another top Procurious video here.

Much of this can be linked back to the well-known, and oft-trodden, procurement process. Stakeholder engagement should underpin the entire process – we used this example yesterday when we talked about creating a specification.

People naturally want to be kept in the loop, and don’t like unexpected surprises. But, at the same time, most people will be more understanding of issues if they are made aware of them. So, much like your supplier relationships, open and honest communication will take you a long way.

Although we’re on Day 2, consider this as step 1 in the process. Get everyone onside at the start, and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain in the future. And, with any luck, you’ll manage to build a lasting relationship.

Do you still feel like you’re speaking a different language to the rest of the business? Still struggling to communicate procurement’s value. We’re talking Three French Hens on Monday.

Best and Worst Sectors for Online Customer Service

Utility companies and local authority services are among some of the worst ranking sectors in the UK for online customer service, according to new research.

Online Customer Service

The new report from social media experts, myclever™ Agency, found that consumers put utility companies (water, gas, electricity, phone and broadband) as the most frustrating sector for online customer service, with local authorities close behind. Retailers and professional services came out as the least frustrating sectors.

The report surveyed 1,000 UK consumers on whether current digital services are fully meeting consumer expectations, and their views on whether new technology, such as Chat Bots, could help improve customer service.

Biggest Frustrations

It found that the biggest online service frustrations across all sectors was a lack of basic information contained on everyday commercial websites such as retailers, utilities, banks and local government services (45 per cent).

Close behind was the inability to ask simple questions (40 per cent), while a third of the sample (33 per cent) said that, even when the option to ask questions existed, the tools they had used in the last month were of poor quality and didn’t provide a timely response.

The main frustrations lie in the inability companies have to answer simple questions quickly. However, when told about the benefits, consumers regarded Chat Bots as the key-holders to speed, unlocking immediacy and convenience in online services. They felt that these virtual assistants, designed to simulate conversation with human users, would significantly improve online services.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) liked that Chat Bots would be able to provide a 24-hour service, and 64 per cent felt it would resolve the problem of not getting quick answers to simple questions. More than half (51 per cent) felt happy they would get an instant response, mirroring the frustrations felt about current online customer service providers.

When compared to other forms of customer service channels such as apps – an area where businesses have invested heavily – chat bots scored more highly on all perceived benefits.

Demand for Online Customer Service

Rob McNair, managing director of myClever, commented on the findings: “Ever-evolving technology and an increasingly digitalised world has changed commerce forever. Online services that were once a luxury are now being demanded by consumers 24/7. In order to stay competitive, businesses are racing to keep up with consumer demands and technological innovations.

“The frustrations clearly indicate the need for online customer service to improve. And, although frustrations exist in all sectors, it’s interesting to see that the industries exhibiting the most frustrating customer experiences online are the least likely to improve them. Public sector bodies, for example, are notoriously slow to provide accessible online services – and when they do, they’re often inadequate, confusing and riddled with poor user experiences.

“It’s one thing if bots can make that a thing of the past, it’s another whether those ranking highest on this list will be prepared to adopt and invest early enough. However, while modest budgets can be a challenge for the demands of digital innovation, the investment in the long term will mean huge cost savings.

“Businesses offering the best customer experience will be at considerable advantage in converting browsers into buyers and earning repeat business. Chat Bots offer a solution to most major problems of each sector by promising a swifter, smarter online experience. New virtual assistants will be ever-ready, able to listen to our questions and respond intelligently. They will answer our queries, aid our searches and anticipate our needs, learning all the time to refine and improve the experience on offer.”

The full list of rankings and report can be found here. For more information on myclever™ Agency, visit their website.

A Disney Tip for Dealing with Supply Chain Anger

Are you experiencing a lot of supply chain anger? Then the Mouse House might be able to help with this key tip.

Supply Chain Anger

For the video version of this article, click here.

Angry people – they’re everywhere. Most you can avoid, but some you just have to deal with. Especially if they’re your customers or suppliers (two of the essential ingredients for your supply chain or procurement company!).

Why Dealing with Anger Is Important

Have you ever contacted a “customer support’’ service either by phone or email and had a really negative experience? I’ll bet you have.

Have your angry emotions bordered on rage or thoughts of wanting to abuse that company out of sheer frustration? I’ll bet you have.

Did you tell your friends, share that distasteful experience through social media, leave a negative review or contact a government regulatory body? Or simply make a commitment to NEVER EVER do business with them or their product again? I’ll bet you have!

Not good for business!

Dealing Effectively with Supply Chain Anger

So how can you deal effectively with angry customers or suppliers?

Heard of Disney? You know that incredibly successful business icon of theme parks, movies, cartoons, products and people management? They must be doing something right if they can deal with 100+ million people a year at their theme parks and still have raving fans.

Odds are they’re bound to get their fair share of irate or unhappy people! So what technique do they use?

A wonderfully simple technique called H.E.A.R.D. 

1. Hear (it involves listening)

That’s right, let the person tell their story. Just hope it’s not “A Never Ending Story…”! People who have had a chance to ‘let rip’ with their perceived injustices usually feel better.

2. Empathise

Let them know you understand their frustration. Comments like, “I can see how that would make you really angry”, are helpful. When you’re saying this, be mindful of your tone and voice inflections, or they might think you are insincere.

3. Apologise

Let that person know that you are sorry about the situation, product or service issue. Say something like, “I’m really sorry that this has happened to you”.

If you know your company is not at fault, diffuse the outrage by saying, “Can I offer my apologies? I’m always sorry when a customer is unhappy”. Once again sincerity must be obvious.

4. Resolve

Get the situation under control quickly and make amends. If you can’t do it right away, give that person a clear timeline when someone else will rectify the issue.

Be specific who it will be. Give a name if appropriate. People want to connect with people, not a “service or complaints team”. Keep the person in the communication loop of what’s happening.

Saying something like, “Mr Smith, would it be ok with you if I call you back this afternoon and let you know the progress on this? What time works best for you?”

Diffuse, Diffuse and Diffuse a bit more…it works!

5. Diagnose

Get your detective on and find out what happened. Was it a product fault, wrong or late order, delayed payment, or was it miscommunication and customer or supplier expectations not being met?

What systems or change in procedures could prevent or minimise these issues reoccurring? Systemic problems may need to be pushed up the food chain for attention and action.

A good manager will listen to suggestion on improvement from staff at the coal face. After all what Supply Chain Company wants increasing complaints and the fallout from that?

In Summary

Dealing with supply chain anger, and customer or suppliers complaints, is often a part of doing business. If you can manage those complaints in an ordered and sincere way, then your company is going to be in front of your competition.

Because most businesses don’t handle supply chain anger very well at all. Sometimes just asking that irate or angry person, “How could I solve this issue for you “and listening will give you an obvious starting point for resolution.

It may not actually be that complicated.