Supply chain uncertainty is one of the most pressing issues plaguing today’s manufacturing industry. And it’s affecting buyers’ confidence in their partnerships with their machine shops.
Restoring this confidence is key to a healthy relationship between shops and buyers, but how can modern machine shops build trust without waving a magic wand to fix the global supply chain?
The answer is simple: Prioritize exceptional customer service. During a recent NTMA webinar, Jason Ray, CEO and Co-Founder of Paperless Parts, explored how better customer experiences can set machine shops apart from the competition in this challenging market.
Modern Machine Shops Prioritize Customer Experience
When thinking about how to run a machine shop, you probably view quality, cost, and lead time as your main opportunities to build trust with buyers because they’re clear areas where you can deliver on what you promised.
But what happens when you’ve shortened your lead times and lowered your costs as much as you’re able to without sacrificing quality? There must be another way to prove to buyers that they can trust you.
Creating the best customer experience possible is your next best bet. Prioritizing open communication and frictionless processes will go a long way toward strengthening buyers’ confidence in your shop.
How to Leverage Exceptional Customer Experiences to Build Trust
Decades ago, a large OEM would have the same buyer for decades. Once a machine shop established a baseline trust with that buyer, they were good to go. Nowadays, companies rotate younger buyers in and out every couple of years, and building trust is an ongoing process.
Here are eight ways to increase buyer confidence and stand out from your competitors in today’s manufacturing climate:
- Have a modern website. If you assume that people aren’t looking at your website—think again! First impressions are crucial, and your website may be a buyer’s entry point to your organization. A clean, professional, and up-to-date website is a key indicator of quality.
- Acknowledge RFQs. You don’t have to send a quote back instantly, but respond ASAP with an email acknowledging that you received the request. Last year, Paperless Parts ran a test, sending a simple RFQ to 40 shops to see how many would reply. Can you guess how many shops responded? Three! Being responsive can set you apart from the competition.
- Protect customer data. If your modern machine shop is ISO 9001:2015 certified or ITAR registered, be sure to let buyers know. Notify them that you handle their files in accordance with strict security measures and have processes in place to prevent cybercrime. Do your competitors take the same precautions? You’ll be more likely to win the quote if your competitors aren’t as careful with customer data.
- Provide design feedback. Constructive design feedback is incredibly helpful to buyers. If a buyer knows you can bring that level of value to the partnership, you’ll become the go-to shop for them every time. Professionally communicate helpful advice to pave the way for a meaningful, long-term partnership.
- Send fast and accurate quotes. Many shops take weeks to respond to quotes, and when they do, the quotes are often overpriced. You increase your chances of winning the job by being the first to respond—and having the best and most accurate price practically seals the deal.
- Communicate all buying options. You can help buyers manage supply chain risk by including different buying options in your quote. If you’re responding to a quote with 1,000 components that the buyer needs at different times, your best bet is to offer distinct lead times at various price points so the buyer has more flexibility to make a decision that won’t cause a supply chain disruption.
- Follow up on quotes. Following up with customers gives the impression that your shop is proactive and communicative. It may be tedious to make follow-up calls about every quote you send, but thanks to modern technology, there are other options. For instance, you could schedule follow-up emails that go out two days after sending the quote.
- Make ordering frictionless. Placing the order is the final step for the buyer and the last opportunity you have to demonstrate the value of your partnership before manufacturing begins. Ensure a frictionless experience by allowing them to complete the entire transaction seamlessly. This added convenience leaves buyers feeling good about putting their project in your capable hands.
You can’t control market and supply chain uncertainties, but don’t let that stop you from building buyer confidence in other ways. NTMA members have access to ample resources for running a machine shop that stands out in a sea of competition. What are you waiting for? Join NTMA today!