824: Operators Will Tell You How to Provide Great Service if You Ask

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Don’t assume anything when it comes to GREAT customer service.

In today’s marketplace, multiple foodservice distributors offer the same items to the same customer base. Branded and Private Label items are sold like “football commodity” items, and in many cases, it creates pricing wars on the street.

We see some of the most successful DSRs and distributors differentiating themselves from the herd by providing services and service levels beyond what their competitors are willing to provide. PRICE WAR battles are left to the other DSRs and distributors still trying to figure this out.

The DSRs and distributors that have been growing exponentially since the bottom dropped out in 2008 don’t follow a set of rules on how to treat/deal with customers. They determine that individually with each customer. Some companies have used consultants or establish a particular way to service their customers. The only thing that matters is what the customer wants. And the only way to know for sure what they want is to ask them.

One easy and effective method that has been working really well is using a short customer questionnaire of 3 to 5 questions that focuses on the most important parts of doing business with you and your company, but from their point of view. Currently, many DSRs email their questionnaires to their customers so the customers can be honest. A lot of Customers say that it’s hard to be really honest about the DSR in a customer business review.

Example of a questionnaire that a DSR who writes $12 million dollars sends to his customers every 6 months:

  1. Do I return your calls promptly enough?

YES      NO       (circle one)

  1. Do I do what I say I’m going to do?

YES      NO       (circle one)

  1. Does my service level complement your operations efficiently?

YES      NO       (circle one)

  1. Does my price structure enable you to make money?

YES      NO       (circle one)

  1. Have I engaged enough of the team members at my company with your business,that if I were to get hit by a truck or take a vacationJ, you feel your business would continue as normal?

YES      NO       (circle one)

Comments: __________________________

If you listen to your customers, they will always tell you what to do (or not to do) to help them in their business. It is good to ask because at the same time you are actually letting them know the standards that you’ve established for yourself.

You don’t want to pester them to fill out the questionnaire because the whole idea behind asking these questions is to create an environment where customers are going to be happy to do business with you and your company. If you bug them, they’re not going to be happy.

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