The Service Equation
In the fast-paced world of digital technology and merchandising growth, an old-fashion measure can still define client satisfaction within the marketing execution space, OTIF or on-time and in-full. The seemingly simple task of delivering against client expectations is often undervalued today. Customer Service is still a differentiator in client retention, and at IMS, it is not only a priority but a competitive advantage.
IMS services more than 20 Fortune 500 clients with an average client tenure of over 12 years. More than 75% of our clients have been with IMS for over 10 years. In a competitive marketplace where productivity and cost control are key components to client retention, service is not only a base requirement, but can also be a key differentiator. Many prospective clients approach IMS not only to reduce costs but to fix service frustrations they are experiencing. In order to ensure industry leading services, IMS lives by the following principles which enable Service as a Differentiator
IMS Kenosha, one of the seven IMS-owned, ISO 9001 Warehouse & Fulfillment facilities in our network.
Not only does IMS require their associates to personally own the relationships with clients driving high service standards, but they literally own the logistics services process from beginning to end. Many of our competitors don’t view logistics services, including warehouse operations, customer service and transportation, as a core competency.
At IMS, ownership is maintained throughout the supply chain. IMS manages its own facilities; product is ordered, picked, packed, and shipped under the control of IMS associates. When an issue arises, we own it, not another third party.
Deliver What You Promise
There is nothing worse than setting expectations with a client that you can’t deliver on. As part of the OTIF measurement, it is key to execute as promised and exceed client expectations. Issues arise, but it is important not to overcommit even when you expect the inevitable. IMS has instituted a “Picked and Packed with Pride” program where associates responsible for fulfilling an e-commerce order sign a card which is included in the order.
I have never heard someone complain about being “over serviced.” Making service a priority means letting clients know when issues arise and communicating specific actions around resolution. Technology and self-service tools also play a role in communication. IMS manages over 35 e-commerce websites tailored to meet our clients’ specific needs. Our Client Service representatives monitor orders and reach out to customers proactively when issues arise.
Make the Client’s Life Easier
Customers are accustomed to having real-time data available and it is important to have an order site offering which allows for client self service.
Dieter Haynes, Vice President – Logistics Operations has worked at IMS for over 20 years. Haynes says, “The culture at IMS is all about service. We take great pride in delivering great service to our clients. It’s just what we do.”
A 1992 Harvard Business Review article titled “Staple Yourself to an Order” outlined the concept that each time an order is handled, the customer is handled. This approach not only applies to standard order execution for merchandising materials into retail space, but it can also be applied to the execution of merchandise technology services. As the industry moves to more digital technology, the primary service tenants as outlined above still apply. Promising and Delivering, Owning the Execution, Communication and worrying about the details so the client doesn’t have to are just as relevant in the world of digital technology as traditional POS execution. IMS has positioned itself to continue to deliver exceptional service to clients in both environments.
Jeff Fuerst is the Chief Logistics Officer at IMS. Jeff has spent over 30 years working in executive Logistcs roles with Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, ConAgra Foods and Sears Holdings prior to joining IMS five years ago.