January 2010

IT Customer Communication

Business Talks

By: PowerSource Online

The importance of communication – both internal and external – can not be emphasised strongly enough. Over and above a deal between two parties is always a mechanism of crucial information, all of which if not communicated well could be detrimental to the deal. Charterpoint Ltd. Director Martin Bray talks us through the background of business deals and outlines the importance of having things running like clockwork….

Background to the sale

“Where it all starts…firstly our Sales Account Manager has to ensure they are very clear on prospective and current customer requirements. Does the client need new or refurbished products? How quickly do they need them? Where does the order need to be shipped to? It’s very important all these details are ironed out with the prospective and current customer before we move forward.

If we don’t stock the product then we’ll of course need to source it so continuing our good relations with our suppliers is imperative. Once we can confirm prices and lead times for the whole order, its time to discuss with logistics.

This is where prospective and current customer location becomes an important factor. If we’re shipping to a customer in say, the Middle-East, we need to be on top of things with regards to cost and time to deliver the order. The weights and sizes of the products also need to be taken into account to make sure everything complies fully with the countries shipping regulations and legislation. With delivery cost established, we can then go back to the client with order cost.

Striking the deal

Once everyone is happy to proceed we have to get proactive straight away. Prospective and current customers naturally have alternative preferred methods of payment so it’s important we are flexible with this as we want to make things as convenient as possible for our customers.

If all the products on the order are already in stock we’ll package them up appropriately and get them shipped out as soon as possible. Otherwise, we have to wait until our suppliers get the goods over to us, though this is always pretty quick and our prospective and current customers are always kept informed of course.

Once any other goods for the order arrive we get them into engineering for testing straight away. Our suppliers are excellent so we rarely have a problem though we still have to test EVERYTHING of course to make absolute certain. Once they’ve tested the parts to ISO 9001 quality standards we’ll package everything up, carefully complying with weights and dimensions requirements and ship everything out. Market knowledge is imperative here and it is up to us to make sure we can deliver at times suitable for our customers. For example, most countries in the Middle-East and some in Africa have their weekend on Thursday – Friday so we have to work within these guidelines as best we can. One thing we unfortunately can’t control is the airlines, though we are quite fortunate in that we’re only a stones throw from Manchester International Airport and we can always get things out quickly. This is why we’ve put a lot of effort into developed good working relationships with our courier services.

From door to door

Whilst our sales guys adapt as best they can to alternate time zones and try to be in the office as much as possible for the benefit of their prospective and current customers, we also make information as communicative as possible. We provide multi-language websites and our online Account Manager system allows current customers to track their orders and view all their details online, so that whilst we’re out of the office they can at the very least put their mind at ease even when we’re not there to pick up the phone.

Our team do a good job of keeping in contact with prospective and current customers throughout the process. Once the order is delivered and the current customer satisfied the work is far from over at our end…

After sale

This is were we always try to gauge feedback from our prospective and current customer on what we could do to improve our service…whether that be greater stocking availability of certain parts…another facility they’d like to see offered through our online services…greater languages availability…we’re always interested in providing what prospective and current customers want as best we can.

Likewise, our Market Analyst team are always looking at buying trends. This helps us stock parts we know our customers are interested in so we can provide exactly what prospective and current customers require. Parts which have been shipped out for the purposes of the order are then re-stocked to ensure our healthy stock-count remains. It’s always our goal to keep current customers coming back so all these things are crucial in ensuring this remains the case.”

All this just for one order! Whilst all suppliers have similar processes its probably under-stated exactly how much background work goes in to placing an order, particularly so if it’s a sizeable one. It’s amazing how many orders are shipped out daily when you consider the work that goes into it.

This only goes to highlight the importance of communication on all business levels. Without everyone pulling together as a team and communicating effectively problems will arise, goods won’t be shipped on time, orders may get confused and your current customers will stop buying from you. This also highlights the importance of creating synergy with other businesses…like maintaining good relations with your suppliers, your couriers, even your packaging equipment providers, your website management guys…its all crucial towards providing the service your prospective and current customers demand.

 Communication is vital. Without it your market won’t exist.