Sales Beacon | Exceptional customer service by fixing a third-party vendor’s mistake
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Exceptional customer service by fixing a third-party vendor’s mistake

Many companies have found that customer loyalty is not built so much on always providing perfect service — but rather on going the extra distance to fix problems when they occur.

That was the case with a major enterprise solution provider that had included a component from a third-party manufacturer in the package it had developed for one of its customers, an international food and beverage company. Well over 700 of these components were installed globally, playing an integral part of the beverage company’s IT system. Then, it was found that most of those third-party units were defective, with the potential to seriously disrupt the beverage company’s operations.

Rather than rely on the “fix on failure” route, the enterprise solution provider decided to take a pro-active approach. This meant determining which units were defective, and then replacing them. The problem was that this was a task nobody in the enterprise solution provider had time for – their time was already taken up on current and future projects. So, the company called in Sales Beacon to handle the complex and politically-charged process of healing this breach between it and a major global customer.

By showing how seriously it took the problem of the defective units, the enterprise solution provider had a chance to stand out against its competitors, many of whom had installed the same kind of components, but did not take proactive action about the defective units that had been included in their solutions.

Below is a transcription from one of the leaders in the enterprise solution provider, lightly edited for clarity and length.

When you contacted Sales Beacon about this issue, what was your biggest challenge?

These were devices that had already been sold. Given my usual responsibilities in pre-sales, dealing with the defective units was way outside my job role. I was trying to manage someone else’s problem. Dealing with this problem was potentially impacting our future revenue, because the other things I was supposed to be addressing, weren’t being addressed. I needed to get this task off my list.

What support was available from within your company for dealing with the issue?

It was more a customer-led event. They could submit their own cases to our company, along with the serial numbers of the units. But the customers didn’t know how our process works or how to navigate our internal system. In the end, 751 devices were submitted for analysis, and of those, we found that 116 had not been impacted. That left over 600 devices that needed corrective action.

You asked Sales Beacon to be a liaison between the vendor and your company to get our arms around the problem. What do you think was the most beneficial part of that?

Our customer needed someone to be pro-active, that was the key. We had to get everything under control, right from the start of the process. Did they have the right contacts, the right addresses, what was the procedure to follow, how to engage the vendor if necessary. Then there’s the whole question of who’s going to pay for it, so there’s a political aspect that’s outside my control. Then, once the units are replaced, are we tracking all of them, who should we work with at the beverage company to prepare a plan of action. There were so many little things that had to happen on a repeat basis and on a specific cadence in order to make progress.

Once we were engaged, how soon did it take to see a difference?

I want to say four weeks, because we had to get your company’s assigned contact familiar with our company’s processes, how to use it to generate reports, to cross-reference it and get engaged with the customer. So, I didn’t pull myself out of the process for about a month.

How much time did it save you?

I’d say about an hour a week – just managing emails including emails from the customer, emails from our company. The customer wanted validation that the work was actually being done, and just trying to uncover all the little issues and concerns, took a while. There were 28 versions of the units to deal with, so it was far from “one and done.”

But from the customer’s viewpoint, the fact that we had a process for them to ask questions and get answers, was a real plus. Add to that the fact that we had some skin in the game (through engaging Sales Beacon), was well above what our competitors were doing.

How did your competitors, who had also installed these units with their customers, handle it?

Most of our competitors wouldn’t even talk to their customers about it – it was more of a fix-on-failure approach.

But we had a process to offer and a plan, and a way to prioritize what got repaired or replaced. Our customer has specific critical sites, and those had priority. And it’s one thing when a site has redundancy, but quite another when a site has a single device with no backup. So even if it’s a less critical site, it’s vulnerable if there’s just one unit. But it’s really up to the customer to determine that.

What did you learn from this project?

One thing I learned was, I didn’t know that this is an area where I could get help. That’s what I learned, that there are other things in engagement that we can have you involved in. One way to determine that is to bring your company in for maybe 15 minutes of one of our weekly virtual team meetings, to see if we can offload some of the post-sales work burdening our teams.

“With Sales Beacon, the results have been outstanding. I have increased team engagement and accelerated the sales process”

—Global Account Manager, Fortune 500 OEM