We asked our customers what they want, and they responded.
One of the critical aspects of time to market is super customer service. A good company will work on delivering good customer service as compared to other companies and competitors. A great company will work diligently at delivering great customer service. This means service that is so superior to other companies that it will actually astonish the customer.
Now “astonishing” is not a word to be taken lightly. How many times have you been astonished by great customer service? Or let’s lower the bar and ask, “How many times have you been surprised and delighted by customer service?”
I am willing to bet it has not been that often, if at all.
Great companies work hard at delighting and even astonishing their customers. There is a famous story of Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives spending hours and hours with dozens of types of iPhone boxes to check out not only the designs but also how the top of the box would come down on the bottom of the box, noticing even the kind of noise it made when it settled. Now that is attention to detail; that is delighting the customers to the point of astonishment. Have you ever known anyone to ever throw away an Apple product box?
A good customer will always be thinking of better of ways to stand out. In thinking about our business, we need to spend the same amount of time checking out details and brainstorming for ideas that are going to astonish our customers. Of course, given the title of this column, we are always seeking opportunities to beat the clock, so to speak, to find ways to deliver our products faster than anyone else in our marketplace.
I recently took a survey of a few companies we work with, asking them what it would take to delight them. We really wanted to find out what was the most important to them. We not only focused on what was offered by their customers today, but what they wanted if they could have anything they wanted in terms of service from the suppliers. It was a very interesting, and surprising, exercise.
Out of that exercise came the top three things our customers said they want their PCB suppliers to have. Check them out:
- Quick quotes: First, our customers said they want from their suppliers is an accurate automatic quoting system. They are asking for quote turn-around, not in hours or day, but minutes! The ideal situation they described was getting accurate quotes right off the suppliers’ websites, in 15 minutes or less, without talking to a human being. In fact, a majority told us that if one of their suppliers could provide this quick service, they would get the order. How is that for incentive?
- Real-time reporting: Next, the companies we surveyed said they want consistent, real-time reporting. A couple of them described a system where they could get regular live updates on where their product is in the process. One suggested that maybe the updates could be sent in a text or email on a regular basis. They want a history or provenance of their boards that would also show the design changes as well as revision changes that occur during the actual processing of the product.
- Complete synergistic solution: Companies are looking for suppliers that can provide them with a complete package of design, fabrication, and assembly, all in one. They want to place one purchase order with one supplier and deal with that one supplier throughout the life of the order. One customer said, “Look, it is just too complicated to deal with a design service bureau and then a board fabricator and then find an assembler. To me this is the old way. I want to place one purchase order and let the same supplier provide me the complete package.”
These are all good suggestions and certainly the entire industry would benefit from working one providing these exact solutions to our customers. They say that the best way to sell successfully to a customer is to discover what their needs are and then meet those needs. I think in this case we have gone a step further and asked this group of companies what would delight them and maybe even astonish them, and this in the end are the top three things they want from a good supplier. Now all we have to do is find a way to meet and surpass their wishes.
Now I am not saying that it will be easy. These are difficult and challenging services to provide. But in the end our customers have made it very clear that these are the three things we will have to do to delight and astonish our customers.
Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.