Last week’s article looked at using communications, cross-selling and strategic partnerships to boost your customer engagement. This week we’ll examine two more effective methods that you can employ to create a better relationship with your customers and promote repeat sales.
What exactly is entanglement?
Entanglement sounds a little sinister but, in fact, this can be to the advantage of both customer and supplier. By entanglement, I mean the blurring of boundaries between vendor and supplier.
Customers often come to rely on their vendor to know the customer’s business or environment. This way they can be assured that the vendor can better serve them. Those customers who pass some level of decision making to the vendor, to make it easier for the vendor to serve them, are entangling themselves with the vendor’s business.
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Entanglement occurs frequently with complex service delivery where, the more the vendor knows about the customer, the more efficient the communications are between customer and vendor. For example, a vendor who uses your part numbers in processing your purchase orders, interfaces to your ordering system, or is allowed direct access to your production schedule, is really becoming part of your business. They reduce the likelihood of errors in communications between customer and vendor by sharing the same or interfaced systems.
We also see this happen where supplier and customer plants are built next to each other to allow ‘hole through the wall’ supply or greater flexibility in supply. A similar situation exists where a consultant has employees permanently located on the customer site. Those consultants build up an intimate knowledge of the customer’s operations and can generally be more efficient with their time.
Entanglement can occur in a less formal manner. The more my staff interact with your staff, the greater the degree of familiarity we both achieve of each other’s business. This makes communication more efficient but can also lead to more proactive activity. If I can anticipate your requirements, I can ensure I have capacity available to meet your requirements. If our staff build social relationships, these can lead to more efficient communications, often using informal channels. Such informal relationships can cross over into social activities or working together on community projects.
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