By Sid Chadwick
“He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.”…..William Blake
In this week’s Business Development Directors Peer Group Conference Call, I scheduled an “informal testimonial” - from a Customer Service Manager, and her Supervisor, for those attending from across the U.S. (A 45 Minute Discussion – as Attendees always ask questions.)
Focus of discussion: Her “Weekly Review” with their largest customer – that includes:
- Review of that Customer’s “Spreadsheet of Orders”, and the status of each order – which she prepares and sends before their weekly Zoom call.
- Upcoming Orders – to ensure availability of materials, which she’s requested, and her customer understands – helps ensure “on-time-delivery”.
- Orders-in-Process, with suggested options, such as a change in materials or design, to ensure on-time shipping, and delivery.
- How this process came about and has become “The Glue” – between these two organizations.
Peer Group Discussion Included:
- That this most important customer represents an important “Reference”, for “Target Prospecting” – through the use of Databases.
- That this most important customer - knows many organizations, to whom they could provide introductions.
- How this process can become a “feeder” – for other current customers with significant potential.
- How this process can lead to “Successful Prospecting”, of similar SIC Code organizations, that don’t represent a competitive threat to this customer.
Weekly Reviews (with Major Accounts) also Allow:
- Personal relationships - of an organization-to-organization nature - to develop.
- Introductions to other departments, such as Marketing, and Design.
- Caring suppliers - to learn how they can make the Buyer's job - easier.
In my Consultant’s role, my upfront “Interview Process” included a battery of questions, that gave me clues to the strength and commitment to their customers, including, “Do you ever receive requests from customers for Order Updates?”, and if “Yes – How do you respond?”
Only a very few clients had internal standards that included: “Systematic Order Status Communications” – on all orders.
Those very few clients would voluntarily offer that their customers would sometimes ask, “How do I get my other suppliers to provide this information like you do?”
Similarly, it can be “instructive” to ask your customer, if you’re providing this invaluable information, “How do your other suppliers provide this information?”
Culture is critical…..and the importance of customer contact personnel having a true “Servant’s Heart” – can not be overstated, for creating numerous downstream, additional opportunities – that deserve to be recognized, and followed-up (….with accountability).
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”…..(Often incorrectly attributed to) Peter Drucker, Consultant, Writer, Philosopher