The discussions online lately have been about recent problems both with quality control and with communications. More specifically, between fabricators and their installation customers. I think we’ll find that as the industry gets busier over the next few years these problems will actually get worse before they get better. Simply because the low staffing levels caused by the recession will struggle to cope with the increase in business, therefore make more mistakes and take longer to get back to customers.

Obviously this will be a problem that needs addressing. And credit to Rehau, they did actually ask a few of us what we thought they could do to improve communication and service to their customers.

The idea I mentioned, and this goes for everyone, would be to set up a dedicated online portal where customers could log in securely and report whatever problems there are with the products they are receiving. So, here’s the scenario: an installer is having a problem with a door that their supplier has given them. Rather than spend time on the phone waiting to be put through to the right departments, that installer could log in to a section on their website where they can log the problem with their supplier. At the other end, a dedicated member of staff monitoring quality control complaints would be in charge of organising these complaints, finding a solution to that complaint and open a clear and regular channel with their installer to brief them on the progress being made.

To me, this wouldn’t be that expensive. Most big fabricators have an IT guru they can call upon to set such a thing up. All that would be required is the extra member of staff and their training. In my eyes, with a rising number of quality communication complaints, investing in a system like this would certainly improve the quality of communication between a fabricator and their installers.

One of the most important things at risk during these situations is the relationship between the installer and their supplier, and the opinion of the end user. If problems occur and they are resolved quickly and promptly, without the installer nagging, then that relationship stays harmonious. Just as important is the end user. If there is a problem with Mr & Mrs Smith’s door, they will be relying on their installer to make sure that the problem is solved ASAP. If it isn’t, it is highly likely they will be left unhappy at the end and won’t be recommending that company to their friends and neighbours. As @aztecwindows pointed out, it is the reputation of that installer which is the absolute priority at the end of the day.

This is just an idea, prompted by a request from Rehau to tell them how communication can be improved. Any other ideas, pop them in the comments section below.