In 2017, product quality and customer service was one of the major talking points in the fenestration industry. Often you could browse social media and quickly find installers as well as fabricators complaining about the quality of product they were receiving, as well as poor customer service coming from their suppliers.

This year, I identified it as one of the fundamental issues our industry had to tackle if it was to become more productive, stem the tide of negativity and allow itself to refocus back on the things that matter.

We’re now into the last throes of the year, so this seems about the right time to take stock and gauge some opinion.

Spoiler, there is a poll!

Why we have to tackle this

Feel free to skip to the end of this post to take part in the poll. This is the bit where I elaborate my point before getting to the crux of the article.

Poor customer service and bad product quality are pretty much the two main drivers of remedial work in our industry. It affects all parts of our supply chain. When it isn’t working, it’s creating problems rather than creating productivity. As we are all well aware, the UK is already struggling with low productivity rates as a whole.

But when an installer, for example, has to dedicate people, time and money to put right wrongs that have occurred, this then drags those resources away from tasks that might otherwise make that installer money. Such as processing quotations, replying to emails from potential customers, doing vital market research. The more time spent away from profit-generating tasks, the more likely that installer is to start making losses and lose focus on the worthwhile tasks. Not to mention the negative effects it has on the moral and stress levels of the staff there.

The same of course can be said for fabricators and systems companies, but I work for an installer so I am best placed to use that as an example over anything else.

The knock-on effects from an installer who is struggling in this way can be felt all the way back along the supply chain. Their fabricator has to dedicate people, time and money in putting right whatever the problems might be. That’s wages, transport and materials all specifically meant to put problems right. They will make no money from that process. Customer service levels would be maintained, but that’s not a profit-making part of the business.

When companies fear for the quality of their products and customer service levels, it forces them to look elsewhere in the market. This is time consuming and disruptive for companies on either side of the coin, and no one likes losing a customer. The breakdown of a relationship is never a nice thing, and neither is the loss of revenue from that customer.

From my general conversations, observations and anecdotal evidence from 2017, the problem was bad. The worst I had seen since coming into this industry in 2006. This year it had to improve, else we risk seeing further mounting stresses and disruption across the sector. Not to mention other external factors causing their own headaches for us.

DGB People

The poll

The best way to try and gauge whether we think as an industry that this has got any better is to get you lovely people involved in a poll.

I intend to run this right up until the end of the year, and I will make it a featured post on the home page of DGB, as well as make it a pinned tweet on my Twitter page. I shall close the poll just before the end of the year and will publish an article based on the results of that poll.

There’s five questions which I think best describe the most likely answers people could give. It only takes a second to place your vote, and the more of you that do the more accurate the results will be when I come to report them at the end of the year.

I personally believe that our industry still has a way to go before we can even think about getting back to a period of stability. I remember when I entered this industry being much easier than it is now, with supply chain reliability a given. From what I see, hear and read out there, that doesn’t seem the case to me. But that’s just my personal take.

As well as the poll, I welcome your comments and feedback via the comments section below this post. Or you can join the conversation over on Twitter.

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