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Tag Archives: Service provider

Supply Chain Management

Depending on the type of product or service you provide, Supply Chain Management can be a complex job.  There are few companies that are lucky enough to be self-sufficient.  Most businesses rely on suppliers and outsourcing for at least part of their business, producing a delicate supply chain which can quickly fall apart if something disturbs any piece of it.  Supply Chain Management Software (SCMS) is designed to make monitoring and managing supply chain transactions easier.

There are several things that SCMS can handle, including:

  • Customer requirement forecasting
  • Purchase order processing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Warehouse management
  • Delivery tracking
  • Supplier management

While there are lots of vendors in the SCMS industry, there are a handful of key players that own the majority of the market share.  They include:

JDA

JDA offers Supply Chain Management Software for a huge range of industries, including grocery stores, aerospace and defence companies, pharmaceuticals, and the hospitality industry.  They offer a one-stop solution that covers supply chain management, transportation, and retail.  Their software is aimed at major enterprises.

SAP

SAP is a company that specialises in providing software for businesses.  Their Supply Chain Management solution aims to “transform your linear supply chain into a responsive network”.  It covers supply and demand planning, logistics, fulfilment, and delivery tracking.  SAP offers a range of solutions that will cater to most sizes of business.  They also offer SAP events where people can learn more about their products.

Intelex

Intelex have been producing business software for 20 years, and service hundreds of major businesses.  Their SCM software makes it easy to track supplier performance, evaluate and rate different suppliers, produce performance reports, and follow up on issues.

3PL

3PL Warehouse Manager is an enterprise-level supply chain management application aimed at the logistics market.  It offers automated reporting, EDI, and barcode scanning.  This software makes billing, logistics and tracking a breeze.

Accuware

Accuware’s ProActive Inventory Manager is a web-based inventory solution which has been built to run on Microsoft ASP.net and Microsoft SQL server.  This software is available in two forms – a self-hosted version, and a SAAS version hosted on ProActive’s servers.  ProActive Inventory Manager has a standard, inexpensive version for small and medium sized businesses, and a more sophisticated enterprise version.

Choosing Supply Chain Management Software

It’s important that you find the right supply chain management software early in your business’ life.  Investing in the wrong version can cause costly mistakes which could damage your reputation.  Deploying new software, and transferring over your existing inventory and orders can be a struggle.

Before you invest in any SCMS, consider attending a few industry events.  Whether you choose to attend SAP events and JDA events, and shop around in that fashion, or go to one of the major logistics conferences is up to you.  Consider taking up some free trials, and spending a weekend or two running test orders through different systems until you find one that you and your employees like to use.

Amy Fowler writes on technology, this post was written in conjunction with UK & Ireland SAP User Group, organisers of SAP events. For more information on their SAP events, click here.

 

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The Ten Steps to Achieving Enlightenment in Customer Service

It really does not matter what industry you are in, or whether you provide a service or a product, the essential tenements of customer service are the same.

The first and more natural form of customer service is reactive.  It consists of the following progression:

  1. You receive a complaint or are somehow made aware of dissatisfaction.  It is imperative to respond quickly, without excuses, and honestly.
  2. This phase is essentially about listening, showing empathy, and trying to ascertain what the customer expectations were and how the customer perceives they were not met.  It is imperative to detail and documents what the customer has been promised, by whom, and in what timeframe.
  3. Then you need to get the customer to agree on what an acceptable outcome would be moving forward.
  4. Now is the time for research, you need to go back to your service providers, compare the information given to you by the customer and ask them honestly for their version of what happened.
  5. Comparing version A (customer) with version B (supplier) it is then up to you to determine how get from A to B in such a way it that the customer perceives the original expectations have been fulfilled or exceeded.
  6. This is where it gets really fun.  A really great customer service Rep is nothing but a problem solver.  If you look at it as doing the minimum to get your complaining customer to shut up, you’re missing boat.  To me there was no greater satisfaction and being able to take a completely unhappy customer and making them so delighted with the process that they become the biggest advocate for your company or service.
  7. Here the selling goes both ways, but at this stage it usually negotiating with the service provider to get them to agree the original expectations that were promised to the customer, what resources are required to reasonably get those expectations fulfilled, and agree on how soon that can happen.
  8. Communication on both sides is critical.  The side that usually fall short, is keeping the customer abreast of the day-to-day efforts you are making, and progress that is happening on his behalf.
  9. When you believe that you have resolved all the issues, restored performance to meet the customer’s expectations, it is crucially important to have the customer agree.  Most often they will be very appreciative, and happy to document the turnaround and all the efforts made on their behalf to make things right.  This is when they become not only good references, but advocates and the subject for testimonials.
  10. The last step in the process is to return to your supplying team, share with them the success of your customer service effort, their part in it, how much you appreciate them, and if possible name them specifically and the customer testimonial.

After repeating the steps many many times, the process becomes second nature.  A truly enlightened supplier will by nature intuit this procedure.  When this happens one can predict many of the steps of this process and create a similar set of positive customer experiences proactively.

Although in a perfect world predictive customer service would preempt much of the pain and duplication of efforts, and the steps outlined above.  In actual practice sometimes it is actually a benefit to walk a customer through the steps of pain, to endear them.  As they say “the selling begins when the customer says no,” so sometimes endearing yourself to a customer begins when you really blow it, then make it right.

In my former life as a Semiconductor Capital Equipment salesman, I walked into a situation where we were eight months behind on a one year  $2,000,000 retrofit program.  It took me almost a year to get everything cleaned up, and within a few months after that I ended up selling them an additional $14,000,000 worth of equipment.

 

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Preparing for an Office Move

When it comes to moving an office, a lot of planning must go into the move prior to the actual event. You must make sure that you have a facility that will meet all the standards required to run your business as it was ran before or better. Location is key in any move to make sure you are not moving to an area with less demand for your services. Also when moving you must take into consideration that where ever you are moving that your service providers actually carry services there otherwise you may lose the phone numbers that are already established for your company. You need to take into consideration as well as to whether or not your new location will be equally or more convenient for your previous customers.

Moving locations is always a risky thing to do. A lot of people are afraid of taking that risk with the possibility of losing customers, but don’t take the time to think of the possible growth they can gain with that move.  That is why you must really check into and research the area you are considering moving to and make sure there is a demand for your services there.

When moving you need to plan carefully and make sure that you have everything taken care of at the new location prior to the move. It is better to have a seamless transaction rather than getting there and nothing being done, because at that point you are in a bad spot with your business. The less downtime you have the better, because that will be less money you are losing if you make sure it your office is all set up ahead of time.

Too many times it has been seen that a company wasn’t ready for the move, and once they did they were in over their heads and it ended up costing them the company all together, as appose to just a small financial loss in the beginning.  So being prepared prior to the move is very important for the success of the move and of the business.

Make sure that you have all your ducks in a row beforehand. Research the location. Research the demands in that area for your service. Check and make sure with your phone providers that they service the area and if not whether or not you can transfer your number to a new provider.

Mark Gregory is writing on behalf of Capital Office Relocations, who provide storage services in and around the London area. Their services include Storage in North London and West London Storage

 

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