A little while ago I ran a poll asking what the industry believed to be the biggest problem facing the sector right now. There were six options, so the votes were fairly well spread. However, of the options the joint most voted for was the option of poor customer service throughout the whole supply chain of the sector. You can continue to vote on the poll and read that post here.

Given the things I am told, I would say that this is a pretty accurate representation of the feelings in the industry right now.

Overworked, under-staffed, strained

I get a genuine sense that in a lot of areas of our industry we are creaking. Business is brisk, if not blossoming. We’re busy, which is good news. But it also means we’re working more.

I am told that many companies across the supply chain in UK fenestration are at staffing levels that have still not recovered to pre-Great Recession levels. That means we’re all doing more work, more business, on smaller staffing numbers. The end result is that less people are doing more things. Working harder and producing more in the same amount of time with less people to do it. The end result of all of this is a workforce across our supply chain that is overworked, under-staffed and feel strained to come good on their targets.

The other thing to consider is morale. A stressed workforce can also lead to low morale, which creates a negative mood in camp. A happy, positive workforce is a productive one, and the quality of work they do is high too. A strained workforce produces poor quality work, which affects us all.

It does also lead to poor customer service, which is perhaps the biggest problem of all.

DGB Business

Poor customer service costing us all

I think the ones at the real sharp end of poor customer service are installers. These are the companies facing the home owner directly, and are in the direct firing line when issues occur on site. Be it missing items, poor product quality, delivery delays or wrong items, it is always the installer that gets it in the neck, even if it’s not their fault.

Installers are the ones who rely completely on their suppliers and fabricators to make sure that the products they have ordered for their home owners arrive on time and in full. Are in a quality condition. That all items for the job are there. That it’s been made to the correct specifications. Installers are often running tight, packed fitting schedules. Any delays can often mean a very long knock-on effect to schedules that have been weeks in the planning. It’s a logistical nightmare, and one that has bigger consequences for the installers if they’re a small to medium sized business.

Installers rely on their suppliers for gold standard customer service. Even more so now. Our industry is about as diverse as it ever has been. We’re all suffering from product overload. Flooded with incomplete information and data on said products. Organisation is becoming a whole other business in itself. Fabricators absolutely have to be stepping up to the mark to make sure their installers are coping with their orders. With home owners becoming more demanding, and installers drowning under the weight of product options, quality customer service and support from their fabricators can help ease the burden for their installers, and for themselves too.

The fact is that poor customer service costs us all as an industry. Product mistakes cost money to rectify. Delays to fitting costs money. Remakes of products costs money. There are no figures about in the sector which can measure what poor customer service costs us as an industry, but when you consider our contribution to GDP is worth more than the UK music industry, it could be in the hundreds of millions a year.

Right now we’re a strained, stressed, fractured, overworked sector, I think most would agree with that. The one thing that could help relieve that pressure somewhat is a renewed, solid effort to restore a better level of customer service throughout the sector.

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