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Good service is priceless!

Good service is priceless!

Mark Godden contends that good service is everything

 Good service is a reflection of met or exceeded expectations. For example, I judged myself as having been very poorly served when I recently went to a very popular chicken emporium in France, only to find it was out of chicken. Finger-licking whuh?

When you order materials, or anything else for that matter, from one of the suppliers in your network, you do so in the expectation that your order is actually going to arrive. You may expect it the next working day. You may expect it in a week or more. Either way, as long as those expectations are met – it’s happy days.

When things go wrong, and they do, your expectations re-index themselves into a new sphere. You then expect that you’ll be told something’s up so that you can make alternative arrangements to get what you’ve ordered or rearrange your workload to suit. You’ll probably tell your customer too if you’re going to shoot-through on your commitments to him.

See how it all hangs together?

“Communicate continuously,” someone once said, “and not just the good stuff.” As long as we do, and everyone is kept appraised of events, then we can all handle a bit of friendly fire. What doesn’t wash though, is silence and no-shows. You hear nothing. You get nothing.

Most suppliers these days understand the way a typical sign and graphics producer works. They know that, rather than keeping your cash locked up in huge stocks of materials you use regularly, you’d rather buy it as you need it and in quantities that make sense. You’d rather it was on their shelves than on yours in other words.

Some of the more forward-looking suppliers out there will even apply the same thinking to supplying what’s not on their shelves. If you want a colour, or a format that doesn’t represent business as usual for them, they’ll look at it and, if it’s profitable, they’ll make it for you.

The better suppliers also recognise that you’re not particularly inclined towards the stuff you buy from them. You don’t order it because you like the smell, the pretty colour or the box it comes in. You order it because you have a job to do and without it, the job doesn’t get done.

In a day and age where so much business is being done online, you’re told that it’s more convenient for you. Maybe it is. Maybe when something pops into your head unbidden at three in the morning it is good to get it dealt with. You can if you want.

That said, online ordering effectively outsources a supplier function. Unless that is, it’s exemplary in its nature and more than just a shopping cart and an endless list of canned products for you to negotiate. It needs to be something that’s more akin to a genuine convenience and backed up by a real person somewhere.

When the chips are down, and that van absolutely positively has to be out of your workshop later in the day, would you rather be thanking your lucky stars you’d ordered from a supplier you can trust, or planning on the bleeding edge for an alternative?

You know the answer to that.

Service has a price associated with it. That’s because it has a cost too. The cost you’ll bear evaporates into nothing, or less than nothing, the second you bring value to the table. Having your expectations met, ordering your chicken and getting it. Being able to do your job because someone else is putting the time, effort and experience into doing theirs – well, that’s priceless!

Mark Godden

e-mail: mark@markgodden.co.uk

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