Time to Market: Secrets to Super Customer Service

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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 imran@rushpcb.com.

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2021

Time to Market: Secrets to Super Customer Service

03-25-2021

A recent survey of a few companies asked what was the most important to them. The survey 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.

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Time to Market: Customer Service is Still the Key

02-18-2021

Times have changed and fast time to market is not an excuse to skimp on quality, technology or customer service. In fact, great customer service is more important than it has ever been, especially when it comes to quick turn-around orders.

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Time to Market: Everything Changes—Are You Ready?

01-21-2021

Imran Valiani is always on the lookout for ways to cut time to market. Over the years this has become his personal passion. When he stumbled on a way to shorten the quoting process, Valiani left no stone unturned.

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2020

Time to Market: Ensuring Your Suppliers Are There for You

12-10-2020

The best vendors are always there for you and are willing to work 365/24/7. Your company’s most valuable assets are your products, and you're entrusting them to another company. Here, Imran Valiani shares the eight most critical questions you have to ask about your supplier.

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Time to Market: You Get What You Pay For

11-25-2020

There is an old saying that goes, “You get what you pay for.” This is especially true when it comes to the electronics manufacturing industry. What is a great product, what is a great PCB, and what is extraordinary service? Imran Valiani details eight characteristics of a great PCB supplier.

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Time to Market: How Fast Do You Really Need It?

10-29-2020

There is no doubt that in this fast-paced world of innovation and time to market, speed is one of the most important aspects of making your products and company successful. Imran Valiani shares four actions that can be taken pre-manufacturing to cut down the critical need for speed at the manufacturing level.

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Time to Market: 12 Characteristics of NPI Suppliers

09-24-2020

When trying to get a new product to market, time can be the most important factor when it comes to its future success or failure. Imran Valiani details 12 characteristics you should look for when choosing and developing a long-term working relationship with that right new product introduction (NPI) supplier.

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Time to Market: 8 Ways to Know Your Customer Better

08-20-2020

Now is the time to go the extra mile in getting to know your customers, what they need, and how to help them solve their problems and challenges. Imran Valiani shares eight ways to know your customer better.

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Time to Market: It’s Not All About Money

07-30-2020

When you consider the true value of getting your product built swiftly enough to make your required date, you come to realize that it’s not all about the money. After all of the planning, scheduling, and marketing you’ve done, Imran Valiani explains what could happen if you don’t get your product on time.

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Time to Market: It’s Crunch Time!

06-25-2020

After sharing a crunch-time scenario, Imran Valiani emphasizes the importance of solid communication on getting to market on time—especially if you're not using a one-stop-shop for design, fabrication, and assembly.

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Time to Market: 10 Guidelines for NPI Projects

05-21-2020

With everything going on right now, people are looking for solutions—especially fast solutions. Imran Valiani shares 10 guidelines for working with your NPI supplier to make sure that you get your new, innovative, and in some cases, life-saving products to market quickly and efficiently.

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Time to Market: Time to Market Now More Critical Than Ever

04-23-2020

As inventors come up with new devices and equipment that can directly save lives when they are placed in the hands of the medical professionals who are treating COVID-19 patients, it is up to the PCB and PCBA industry to support those companies. Imran Valiani provides five actions to help customers get to market with their new products as rapidly as possible.

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Time to Market: Handling the Precarious Global Supply Web

03-26-2020

The rush is on. As the world changes moment by moment, more and more companies are going to need to have their new product lines developed faster than ever. As the global supply web shuts down—or at least gets closed off in some areas of the world—companies, especially OEMs, are having to scramble to find alternate solutions for building their products. However, Imran Valiani explains how there is a way to countermand these challenges: using trusted sources.

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2019

Time to Market: The Complete Solution—Fabrication and Assembly in Five Days

12-05-2019

The future is here. More and more companies are turning to the complete synergistic solution, seeking companies who can provide PCB fabrication and assembly in just a few days, some in as little as five days. Imran Valiani shares five items to consider when choosing a total concept supplier.

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Time to Market: Partnership Is a Two-way Street

11-21-2019

The best way—and really the only way—to get the most from both your PCB vendors and others is to treat them as an extended part of your company. Bring them into the family, so to speak. And the better you treat your vendors, the better they will perform. I know that’s not the most complicated thing to say, but it is often not an easy thing to do. You have to intentionally choose companies to partner with as vendors, and then intentionally work to create a bond of trust with them consistently throughout the relationship.

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Time to Market: The Importance of Timely NPI

10-09-2019

In this new column from Imran Valiani plans to address ways to get products to market as quickly as possible.

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