Customer Service/Vendor Service

Posted on: February 2nd, 2009 by admin No Comments

I import and wholesale a product line that falls in the high end category. I sell to stores that are beautifully merchandised. Whenever I visit a customer, I am always proud to see my product displayed amongst the other exquisite merchandise.

I have had many of the same customers for years. These retailers continue to buy the proudct because the quality is very consistent. They know they can rely on receiving beautiful product that is in perfect condition. While there may be competitors who have collections with lower price points, the customer service and reliable product is a driving force for maintaining my customer base.

Everyone agrees that good service is paramount to success. If you have a beautiful product or a beautiful store – but your customer service is poor, then the customers will not be loyal.

Customer loyalty is what we all strive for. When I look at my customer list, it is amazing to see the large number of retailers who have been purchasing from me for more than 6 years. From my retailers, I hear how they do all they can for their loyal shoppers.  In this challenging time, the customer loyalty is going to keep us in business.

Good customer service to me means:  shipping orders complete and on time; never shipping backorders without approval; replacing damaged product immediately; being friendly and willing to help problem solve. Good customer service should be maintained when the order is for 500 pieces or just one piece. Every customer, small or large, is important and needs to be respected.

What many seem to forget, is that we can only provide great service if our suppliers are supportive.  I need my factory to deliver perfect product on time. I need my freight forwarder to expedite my shipments as quickly as possible. I need my warehouse to process my orders on time.  I need my sales reps to sell my product. If I treat my suppliers without respect, then why should they push to give me top customer service? If I am consistently late paying my factory, then they won’t deliver quickly. If my warehouse has to hound me for payments, then they may not give my orders priority. If I don’t pay my sales reps on time, then they won’t sell my product.  I need to provide good vendor service to keep my business running smoothly.

I can only provide good customer service if I provide good vendor service.

Many retailers seem to forget about good vendor service.  High demands are made about special orders and strict ship and cancel dates. Yet, too often, invoices are paid so late, after so many messages and faxed invoices with reminders.  “You know we are good for it,” is the reply too often heard. The rules of net 30 are simple: merchandise is shipped and the invoice should be paid in 30 days.  Yet, this rule is so frequently broken. If the full amount can’t be paid, then a phone call to work out a payment plan is necessary. 

Too many retailers forget about good vendor service.

The comment I heard several times at the NY Gift show last week:  “excellent customer service is the main thing that will get us through this.”

The rules of good service are simple. Treat customers and suppliers with respect and with good service. If this rule is not followed, we won’t make it through this challenging time.

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