Service Becomes a Key Differentiator

Jan 11 • Features, Logistics • 2838 Views • No Comments on Service Becomes a Key Differentiator

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New research reveals that 86% of companies now expect on-site post-sales services from industrial suppliers. UPS customer examples show how a new supply chain setup can improve technicians’ efficiency by up to 30 min per service and strongly improve the cash conversion cycle. Jean-François Mathieu, Marketing Manager, UPS Europe explains more…

The UPS Industrial Buying Dynamics Study is one of the few detailed studies available on the relationship between industrial buyers and suppliers.

It is a study that provides a unique understanding of how industrial buyers identify suppliers such as industrial distributors, manufacturers and e-marketplaces, their satisfaction with existing suppliers and their propensity to change suppliers in search of improved value and service.

Interviews were carried out with purchasing professionals and the study provides a detailed view across countries and sectors and one of the key learnings of this year’s study is that industrial buyer expectations of post-sales support are increasing across Europe.

In 2015, 78% of survey respondents said they expected on-site post-sales services from industrial suppliers; in 2017 that has risen to 86%

In 2015, 78% of survey respondents said they expected on-site post-sales services from industrial suppliers; in 2017 that has risen to 86%, driven particularly by significant rises in expectations amongst UK and German respondents.

In fact, European expectations of post-sales support are now running well ahead of expectations in the US where 76% expect on-site support, although in China a remarkable 99% of industrial buyers expect on-site support.

In a world where sources of industrial supply have proliferated, the service offer from suppliers has become one of the most critical differentiators between competitors. Indeed, the UPS 2017 Industrial Buying Dynamics Study shows that while an effective returns process is the most important post-sales service, buyers now also expect a much wider range of services, with on-site maintenance and repairs cited as being important to them by over 70% of respondents.

This necessity of on-site maintenance and returns brings about logistics challenges for suppliers that may go beyond their traditional operational skill-set.

The survey shows that 60% of buyers typically need delivery for all orders within 48 hours or less, with little if any differences in figures cited appearing between respondents from disparate sectors.

The survey shows that 60% of buyers typically need delivery for all orders within 48 hours or less, with little if any differences in figures cited appearing between respondents from disparate sectors

Over half of buyers need on-site service at least every three months, and nearly a fifth of buyers say they need on-site service at least every month. However, only a quarter of buyers say they actually receive on-site service within 24 hours, although that figure does rise significantly to 80% when we focus on a response time of 48 hours.

One company who have recently had to acknowledge this problem and find a means to overcome the challenge was Sealed Air, a leading producer of materials and manufacturing equipment for food safety, facility hygiene and packaging was recently facing challenges managing on-site service in Europe for their TASKI® floor cleaning machines.

They were managing their own supply chain through a network of 19 warehouses, supporting over 500 field service engineers providing aftersales services.

However, they had found that their service response time was continually beginning to slip below their buyer’s expectations – an issue that the senior management team at Sealed Air had quite rightly identified as one that was set to be costly both in terms of top line revenue, brand reputation and bottom line profit.

The solution that they put in place was to work with UPS in combining UPS Express shipping services with the UPS Access Point™ network to deliver parts to their field service engineers. With wait times for parts delivery massively reduced by utilising this approach, Sealed Air found that they were able to significantly improve their response times – which in turn improved their ability to meet customer expectations whilst simultaneously reducing costs by driving efficiency.

The UPS Access Point is a dropbox/locker network that features over 15,000 locations across Europe where buyers can collect or drop off parcels.

Meanwhile, UPS was able to consolidate the company’s network of warehouses into a single, centralised distribution centre. The new service infrastructure allows field technicians to order a part up until 1pm, and have it in hand early the next morning.

Field Service Engineers across Europe are typically able to find a UPS Access Point location within a few kilometres of their home or buyer, meaning that the time spent by engineers collecting spare parts has been reduced by approximately 30 minutes per service order. If each engineer was to process just one order per day then that would be an instant time saving of 250 work hours a day.

That equates to the same as adding in over 30 more engineers to the workforce!

Simply working smarter has allowed Sealed Air engineers to complete more service trips on a weekly basis, reduce the number of warehouses and inventory levels and to bring their post sales offering back on track – something which is vital for any organisation that wishes to remain competitive in this ever increasingly service-centric world.

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