January 16, 2024

How to help distributors be as great at service as they are at sales

How To Help Distributors Be as Great at Service as They Are at Sales

Distributors play a critical role in streamlining supply between OEMs and retailers. Using their local presence and expertise, they build market reach for manufacturers while directing effective sales campaigns. However, increasing sales is not their only job. Given the focus on creating outstanding customer experiences, distributors today must also be great at delivering value-added services. Therein lies a challenge for OEMs to ensure those services don’t go unrecognized and undervalued.

Here’s a look at the scale of the challenge and how to overcome it.

But first—distributors are indispensable

When manufacturers want to deliver products to a broader range of market segments and geographies, they typically rely on distributors to expand their market footprint. It’s a cost-effective way to connect locally with their customer base and gain deep market insights. OEM manufacturers can focus on branding, technology innovation, and product quality. Distributors give those products the market success they deserve.

Distributors act as the bridge between manufacturers and customers, working on behalf of the company and meeting customers’ needs. By staying abreast of the latest market trends and customer demands, they help manufacturers with the intelligence they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

For example, medical device manufacturers increasingly work with distributors to enter new markets, take advantage of logistics and regulatory compliance expertise, and increase their market share. They help streamline the supply of medical devices while leveraging their expertise to balance demand and supply. They also ensure materials and supplies arrive at healthcare facilities when medical professionals need them.

The service challenges they face

As customers increasingly place a high price on the service they get, it becomes critical for distributors to prioritize service experiences. That said, delivering (and maintaining) good customer service experiences can be enormously challenging:

  • Since distributors work with various manufacturers and channel partners, ensuring alignment and effective communication across their operations is a Herculean task.
  • Different stakeholders in the service delivery chain have disparate goals and priorities, leading to disjointed business objectives and customer confusion.
  • Limited knowledge and resources make it hard to identify and resolve customer issues and tailor services to meet unique needs.
  • In the long run, it can lead to poor service performance, eventually impacting the customer experience, jeopardizing a brand’s reputation, and risking a productive partnership.

The service challenges faced by distributors not only impact their own business but also that of the OEM. Poor service delivery can bring down the brand’s reputation, hurt overall customer satisfaction, and hamper the growth of OEMs. When distributors can’t provide the appropriate service information, they can cause issues for OEMs upstream. For example, a lack of timely service response allows for inappropriate service or part replacement schedules and leads to situations where the OEM wastes resources on overstocking parts and materials across the channel.

Ensuring high-quality service performance with a modern platform

OEMs rely on distributors to drive sales. At the same time, they need to ensure high-quality service performance. Modern platforms that power service networks like Atheer can help partners manage this process well. Regardless of service experience, these platforms can drive consistency, quality, and efficiency across the partner service network.

For OEMs that rely on a web of distributors, Atheer lets an OEM’s channel partner teams take control of service performance.

  • Onboard agents faster: Modern service platforms can reduce ramp-up time and allow distributors to onboard talent faster. Using a single service performance app, they can connect their installers, contractors, and service partners and enable a unified experience. With seamless support for phones, tablets, and smart glasses, these platforms can accelerate issue resolution and service delivery across channels.
  • Drive efficiency: For field service teams, quick and consistently excellent service goes a long way in driving customer satisfaction. A cutting-edge service platform with digitized processes helps drive high efficiency onsite. An OEM’s channel support agents easily build, deploy, and manage digital service workflows at scale and deploy them across distribution partners to help them deliver real business impact.
  • Improve visibility: With a modern service platform, channel support agents can gain unprecedented visibility into actual work execution. Using a single tool for digital forms, remote assistance, learning, and automation, they cut down on support times and improve efficiency. The capability enables them to drive consistency across channel partners’ service operations to improve service delivery performance.
  • Leverage self-service: An advanced service platform allows distributors to install devices faster and better. Reliable and traceable self-service capabilities support technicians across the extended service network with the knowledge, resources, instructions, and remote expertise they need to do the job right every time.
  • Enjoy remote assistance: A robust service delivery platform also incorporates remote assistance, which connects installers, contractors, and service partners across multiple locations. From visual work instructions to integrated remote assistance, distributors’ service teams can benefit from expert guidance and on-site support at minimal cost to OEMs.

Deliver more than products

Great products deserve great service. Manufacturing high-quality products isn’t the only thing manufacturers must worry about. Outstanding service performance is a function of customer satisfaction. According to McKinsey’s 2022 State of Customer Care Survey, customer care is now a strategic focus for companies, with retaining and developing the best people, driving a simplified customer experience (CX), and reducing call volumes and costs being their top priorities.

When you want to support your distribution partners in installing, setting up, and troubleshooting your products with maximum efficiency, embrace a service delivery solution that overcomes the many challenges of multifaceted and complex distribution channels.

Empower distributors to take control and drive consistent and agile service with Atheer. Sign up for a demo, today.

Micki Collart

Simplify your service network operations

Discover how Atheer can streamline your service network operations and help you deliver a superior customer experience

Request a demo