The importance of good customer service in the decoration industry is immeasurable.
But it’s important to know the differences in customer service. We last spoke to you about how customer service is best handled in the business-to-customer environment. Today, we’re going to talk to you about customer service in the business-to-business environment and how you should best go about handling that.
We once again are joined by DecoNetwork expert Zach Dewhurst, who was able to share some of his knowledge on the topic.
When it comes to doing business with other businesses, communication becomes that much more important. Businesses want to see options. When they’re spending as much money as they are, businesses want to dot all of their I’s and cross all of their T’s before selecting a product.
“More large orders are going to take more customer interaction and it’s more of a quote,” Dewhurst said. “You’re going to quote and you’re going to take orders. The quoting is key. Don’t try to make them complete everything through the site. Not every time.”
The relationship you have with a business is different than that of a walk-in. Dewhurst breaks them up into two different categories.
“I have customers and I have clients,” Dewhurst said. “A customer is Joe Shmo who walks in off the street and they need that one-off shirt. And they might order a few things here and there, but that customer is very different than the client who is coming to me five times a year placing several hundred dollar orders throughout the year.”
Use supplier resources to help with the transactions. Things such as catalogs and swatch cards that you can get free from your suppliers are a great way to show your B2B clients the different options they have to choose from.
For example, Dewhurst mentioned how SanMar will sell samples that come with grommeted information for 50 percent of the normal costs. You would then be able to let your clients feel the products first-hand before they make a final decision.
The goal of working with another business is to get repeat business. You want that relationship to turn into business that you can rely on for years to come. Oftentimes, a print shop’s first big break comes when they land their first B2B client.
Take DecoNetwork user Rondapro for example. Their first big break in the industry came five years into their operation when they were able to land a contract with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
At that time, Rondapro had an annual revenue of around $350,000. After landing the MDA as a client, Rondapro gained a 25 percent increase in revenue from that one partnership alone. As a result, Rondapro’s business was able to expand and has since turned into a multi-million dollar operation.
Put in the extra work needed to make your B2B clients happy. B2B clients are one of the easiest ways to take your business to the next level and offering them a great customer service experience will help keep them around.
What are some things you can expect from a B2B client? You can expect them to not want to use design tools as a typical customer would. You can also expect them to want more embroidery work than your typical B2C. Why is that?
In a B2B relationship, the types of products they will be looking for you to produce are branded. Employee uniforms, hats, jackets. All of which will likely require some embroidery. So if you’re looking to land more B2B contracts, it would be a good idea to make sure embroidery is a part of your operation.
You can also expect a lot of B2B clients to come to you for event-related products. And with events come deadlines. If you aren’t able to meet deadlines, working with B2B clients isn’t going to work.
As many of you know, the industry standard for turnarounds is two weeks. This is where the majority of businesses go wrong in customer service. There is no quicker way to ruin a relationship than by missing a deadline or having a horrendously slow turnaround time.
“When I’m buying custom shirts, I’m buying them for a reason,” Dewhurst said. “I need them for an event or something like that and I need them by a certain date, most of the time. So not hitting a deadline can make an order obsolete. If I have a big festival and you give them to me the day after the festival, those shirts are trash. They don’t serve a purpose. Turnaround time is huge.”
One of the biggest pieces of advice that we can give you is to plan accordingly. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are delivering on time and keeping your clients happy.
That brings us to our next key point: supply chain.
You’re only as strong as your supply chain. This is another area where you can run into a lot of issues and not be able to meet deadlines. Make sure you’re using the correct suppliers and don’t limit yourself to just one.
While it is a good idea to have a go-to supplier, working with more than one will ensure that you will meet your deadlines every single time.
“Your service, whether you realize it or not, a lot of it comes down to your supplier’s ability to meet your demands,” Dewhurst said. “I can place an order with my supplier by 4 p.m. and it will be at my doorstep by UPS by 10 a.m. the next day and I don’t pay shipping charges. That’s incredible. But if they don’t have the product on hand and I have to get it from a different warehouse or a different supplier, it takes longer.”
Don’t let your supplier let you down. If your supplier lets you down, you will let down your customer.
Do you have experience working with B2B clients? If so, feel free to leave a comment below on how you would approach customer service with them.