Editor's Message: Which Department Is Your Customer’s Final Point of Contact?

Editor's Message

Editor's Message: Which Department Is Your Customer’s Final Point of Contact?

A recent poll looked at this aspect of CM’s overall customer service

Component manufacturers (CMs) consistently say customer service is one of the ways they strive to differentiate themselves in their market. One aspect of that service is how they handle their last point of contact with a customer on a job. With loyal, repeat customers, this last contact may have less of an impact on ongoing customer satisfaction, but for first-time customers, customers with lengthy cycle times, or one-off projects, this last point of contact may be the last impression a CM leaves with a customer.

A recent SBC Industry News survey asked CMs how they typically handle the last point of contact with a customer on a job, providing valuable insight into how different CMs have approached this aspect of their business. 

For instance, in asking which departments in the company typically interact with a customer on a job, results indicated that it is common for a customer to have multiple points of contact. A vast majority of Sales (94%) and Design (83%) departments interact with customers, while about half of Company Leadership (54%), Administrative/Billing (52%) and Estimating (48%) do so. It is interesting to note that only two-thirds (68%) of Transportation departments actually interact with the customer. It may also be surprising to learn that a few CMs (15%) have their Production departments in contact with the customer.

Who initiates customer contact? The first contact is usually made by Sales (79%), but a small number of companies lead with Company Leadership (6%), Estimating (6%), Design (4%), or Administrative/Billing (4%).

Given that a significant majority of CMs have one department handle first contact, it is noteworthy that the industry is not as consistent on who contacts the customer last. While only 68% of survey respondents indicated their Transportation departments typically interact with their customer, 44% say their drivers actually have the last point of contact. If Transportation isn’t the last to interact with the customer, the next most likely is either Administrative/Billing (25%) or Sales (19%). A small number of CMs have their Company Leadership (4%) follow up with the customer.

How is that last point of contact with a customer typically made? Half of respondents say they do it by phone (49%), while the other half are split between doing it in person (30%) or by email (21%). When asked to rate how formal their process is for handling the last contact with a customer (one being completely informal and 10 being well documented), the weighted average was 5.38, with roughly equal respondents at both ends of the spectrum.

While there are varying practices when it comes to the last point of contact with a customer, the potential impact on a customer’s lasting perception and satisfaction with a company provide CMs the opportunity to differentiate themselves through a standardized and consistent routine when handling the last contact with a customer. 

Sean D. Shields, Managing Editor