When Uber arrived in Australia they did more than just change the way we use taxis, they changed the way we behaved as customers.
By requiring users to register before requesting a ride, Uber effectively removed primary user anonymity. Then they took it a step further. Every time users complete a ride they are invited to provide a rating and feedback for the driver. But then the tables are dramatically turned and the driver completes a rating for the User. What a game changer! The results have been exceptional. Ask any Uber driver. Better still, ask a friend what their Uber rating is. Traditional cabbies can’t believe it, especially given they’ve been putting up with rude and inconsiderate customers for decades.
So what’s the learning for businesses who’re in the B2B supply chain? Do the same as Uber drivers – honestly appraise your customers and your relationship with them. Here’s five reasons you should, and a few tips on how to make a start:
1. Respect. No matter how much power your big customers hold in your supply relationship, it is still a relationship and relationships needs to be healthy. Each party has a right to be treated with respect. If you’re not, it’s in your interests to let your customer know.
2. Margin. When you signed up to supply a customer you budgeted for a margin for services or goods provided. If you’re not achieving this because the customer is in some way not complying with their side of the arrangement, it’s time to talk.
3. Staff turnover. Repeatedly businesses lose people that are fed up with being poorly treated by their customer counterparts. Many feel powerless to raise the issues they experience on a daily basis, so they quit. It’s terribly unfair on them and it cost the supplier plenty in recruitment and onboarding. Worse still, the bad behaviour goes on unchecked.
4. Value proposition protection. If you allow non-conformance or margin creep to occur within an existing supply agreement, you create a new “normal” of service expectation. By the time you come to negotiate the next contract, the customer will only seek to secure increased benefits over those they have already unofficially taken from you.
5. Customers are people. Just like you they supply their own customers and have staff that arrive each day to do an honest day’s work. So often, they simply have no idea that their suppliers may be feeling unloved. Once they know, most will address issues quickly.
Giving feedback shouldn’t be feared or avoided. Embrace it as something vital to your own interests. Start by gathering a list of items & supporting facts that represent your concerns and organise a time to sit down for an informal conversation with your customer.
Highlight the way these issues make your own staff feel; share what improvements could look like; identify how you can help each other prosper; be accommodating of steps and time required to improve & most of all, set a routine time to catch up and continue the discussion every month.
You’ll feel like an Uber driver in no time!
Paul Allen, Director, Margin Partners