American Express found that 33% of customers will consider switching to competitors “after just one instance of poor customer service”.
In any business, you have customers. Your customers’ satisfaction will determine your success, whether you’re in retail or a B2B service provider. Poor service delivery can cost you heavily, with clients refusing to use your services or leaving poor reviews.
Often, it’s harder to retain old clients than it is to find new ones, but for small businesses, even a single client lost to inefficiency or poor service provision is a big loss. Enhancing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by 25–95%.The goal to minimise losses through improved service delivery should come before anything else.
Common Mistakes that Cost Businesses Clients
Experience can teach you a lot. However, if you’re starting out, or you’re already established but not growing as rapidly as you’d like to, it could be the result of mistakes in your service delivery.
A mistake, even a small one, could end up costing your business.
Some of the most common service delivery mistakes that businesses end up making are:
Certain aspects of your supply chain management are better off being automated, such as making the switch to an Order Management System—OMS software like OrderTron. However, not everything needs to be automated.
Contrary to common misconception, customers want to feel like they’re dealing with people as well, not just robots and machines.
In several cases, excessive automation leads to more inefficiency, greater losses and more costs, with minimal outcome.
For small businesses especially, any form of automation you opt for should offer real benefits for you, and not be adopted because it looks fascinating.
Lack of flexibility
If as a business, you’re unable to offer your clients flexibility, you’ll drive them away, especially if it’s an old customer who’s given you consistent business over the years or someone proposing a reasonable alternative, only for you to shut it down.
Some of the worst ways that business owners refuse to comply may be by:
- Not carrying forward certain outstanding payments for reliable clients;
- Not offering discounts on bulk quantity;
- Not providing incentives;
- Adding fines or overcharging on delayed payments;
- Fixed pricing.
Mismanagement of orders
Consistent mistakes and mismanagement can end up costing your business heavily. When a client has expectations or places an order for something specific only to receive the wrong/incomplete/defected order, they’re bound to be unhappy.
You’re doing a disservice to yourself as a result of inefficiency and inconsistent management styles. Without a cohesive system in place, you’re bound to mess up your orders.
Delayed order processing
You’re never really dealing with one client during the day; which is why it’s understandable why orders get delayed or mixed up. However, when a client is waiting on updates or for their order to be completed, any delays could drive them away. Especially when it’s a delay without proper updates and information, it comes off as incompetence on the business’s end.
It’s riskier when you’re a B2B service provider since delays on your end could cost another business too. It’s a difficult area to navigate through, which is why a more efficient method to automate.
According to an RSR research report from June 2015, “More than 90 percent of retailers believe that real-time inventory visibility across the enterprise is crucial to delivering seamless customer experiences.”
Poor communication and contact
As a B2B business, you should be able to respond to your client within 8 seconds. That’s a really small window. The respond needs to indicate whether you can fulfil their request/order, by what date, when and at what price. These details need to be clear and precise.
When you automate systems, you cut down the time to evaluate your order fulfilment capabilities. You know exactly how much you have in stock, in inventory, and how soon you can deliver goods to your client.
Focusing on Quantity of Customers Over Quality of Services and Products
Customer satisfaction is never a solid indicator of customer loyalty. As wholesalers catering to retail businesses, you’re working with a specific clientele and if a client finds better deals elsewhere, their business interest lies there. Building on perceived value is one way to combat the loss of clientele on the basis of competitive pricing.
Catering to dozens of clients without offering them anything more than a product will drive customers away. This is why focusing on the economic and social value of your exchange will retain customers. Customer service is predicted to overtake product value for B2B clients by 2020.
This is especially true because B2B suppliers typically have fewer customers than retailers. This requires additional focus on the quality of your service as opposed to how many orders you’re able to take on. With the right OMS, for instance, you can accept more orders, but the quality of your overall service delivery is still imperative.
Over-Promising and Under-Delivering
It’s tempting to offer your client services and products that are unbeatable; instant delivery, lower than market prices, for instance.
However, following through is another challenge that B2B sellers don’t anticipate. In trying to seal the deal, businesses and sales reps will overpromise to their clients, and struggle to fulfil their orders. This not only leaves a negative impression on the client, but also reflects on your poor organisational skills.
Knowing details about your inventory, stocks and having a clear, transparent exchange is the solution to this. Have clear boundaries on what’s possible to deliver and what isn’t. In addition, always hear your customers out and try to reach a middle ground instead of being dismissive of their recommendations and requests.
How using an OMS can help combat issues in service delivery
Sometimes, through small interventions and changes to your work flow, process and business, you can see major results and improvements in customer satisfaction and service delivery. Not everything needs to be radical or disruptive but acknowledging weak points or improving on factors that spiral out of control is the way forward.
The use of an online order management software like OrderTron is a change that your business can embrace.
Designed specifically for food and beverage suppliers, this application makes use of much of the technological innovation that can help bridge the gaps that exist in service delivery.
Streamlined order taking and management process
The order taking and management process is made simpler, smoother and much easier. Customers can place their orders through the application and enter exact details, specifics and other information with ease.
The application records all the data entered, processing the order on your behalf, which saves time that would otherwise have been wasted in corroborating details and manually processing the order.
Private catalogue and product views
Clients get access to your complete list of products, stock quantities, special and regular pricing and more through these catalogues. There’s no need to individually share what’s in stock and what’s not; your clients can save time by checking online and placing orders accordingly.
Instant updates on general and specific pricing
Through the push notification, notes and updates features, your clients will never be out of the loop when it comes to the changes you’re making to their orders, the pricing and any discounts or special pricing you’re offering.
They will be alerted and informed, staying updated on their order status without you needing to make an excessive effort for communicating.
You can also categorise customers based on special pricing and other perks you wish to offer them, without changing the general pricing of your products.
Order tracking and updates are available
Apart from changes to pricing, any update or change in their order is notified to customers. The application records important data such as the date, expected delivery and other information that’s pertained relevant to the order overall.
Get ahead of any issues or concerns that might arise by sharing updates via the application. Your customers will feel heard and valued, while having access to information on the go.
Reports generated for customers as well
An added feature of OrderTron is that it uses the data entered to generate reports and information that can be valuable to the business owner. However, that’s not all.
A unique aspect of this is that your customers also receive reports on their spending, wastage and more information, allowing them to make better decisions when placing their orders too. It’s definitely an insight worth having!
With technology and software, wholesale businesses can improve response times, delivery schedules and much more. Working on weaknesses and improving further on aspects to increase efficiency is the only way a wholesale business can grow.
At the end of the day, it’s about bettering yourself as a business and having that reflect in your service delivery.