Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management?  Stakeholder Engagement is Key!       

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This blog is a bit of a rant, so I am giving you fair warning.  Whenever I have an experience with a service provider (good or bad) I like to take a step back, think about the interchange and sort out what I can learn from it.  I do this for two reasons:  1. We, at The Mpower Group are service providers and 2. All of our clients are service providers to their internal stakeholders.  My two most recent experiences were extremely negative, and I would like to share both and draw the correlation to how we all work with our Stakeholders in Procurement / Sourcing/ Category Management/ Supply Chain.  Hopefully, we can all learn from these incidents.

A few weeks ago, my washing machine started acting up and needed service.  My manual directed me to the manufacturer’s website (Company M).  There was a customer service number which put me on hold for 30 minutes – I hung up.  You could sign up for service online, so I did but the first available date was 10 days out.  I felt like I had no choice, and I registered for a service date.  They did not ask for an email address and there was no email confirmation which I found unnerving, so I continued to try the 1-800 number but never got through.  The service person did show up 10 days later.  He pressed a few buttons on the digital display, told me he knew EXACTLY what was wrong and directed me on what I needed to do to fix it.  I asked if he should at least pull it out, open it up and look at it but he said that would be costly and ridiculous since it was something I could do myself.  So, I paid his service fee, and followed his instructions and of course there was no change.  It took me several phone calls and threats to finally get a “supervisor” to schedule another service call three days later.  Sure enough, they sent the same guy out who was NOT happy.  Once again, he pushed a few buttons and now told me it was the computer display that needed to be replaced at a cost of about 80% of a new washer.   No apology, no return of my service fee and no follow up from the supervisor.  I bought a new washer but not from THAT manufacturer.

Last week, I wanted to move my son’s mobile phone service (a single plan) from Company A to a family plan with Company V for an 80% savings.  I had been wanting to do this for over two years but was DREADING having to deal with these two companies.  Low and behold it was worse than I imagined.  I spent several days on phone calls with incompetent call center people and five visits to Company V to finally get the service switched over.  Both companies had me in tears at one point or another as Company A cancelled my son’s number (simply because they could) and Company V had a hard time porting (what the heck is that?) it over once it was released.  When there are viable alternatives, I will dump both these companies along with my local cable provider as well.

I’m sure we have all had experiences like this, but do we reflect on them and use them to improve the experience we provide to our customers?  What do our Stakeholders (“Customers”) think of us?  Do we make it easy for them to engage with us?  Do we respond quickly, with expertise and follow up to ensure they are satisfied?  ONE bad experience with us may / will turn them off permanently.  So let’s take some our negative experiences with our suppliers and use them to improve our own service levels. 

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .

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Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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