November 1, 2023

Why is it so hard to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience through your distribution channels?

Why Is It So Hard to Deliver a Consistently Excellent Customer Experience Through Your Distribution Channels?

While the quality of products is critical for customer loyalty, today's consumers prioritize seamless and memorable experiences. In McKinsey's 2022 State of Customer Care survey, customer care leaders ranked customer experience as the highest priority area for improvement. The high ranking is likely because 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Contact volume reduction, AI assistance, service call revenue generation, and more were distant competitors for time and attention in the McKinsey study. It's a reality that organizations are becoming increasingly focused on enhancing their customer service operations. A study done on "Industrial Consumerism" by Accenture reported that 84% of industrial executives surveyed deem differentiated customer experience a pivotal factor in boosting competitive advantage.

But it's easier said than done for field service teams. Ensuring a good customer experience can be enormously challenging, particularly for OEMs collaborating on service delivery with third parties and channel partners. We’ll explore why these channel challenges exist and discover how to overcome them with consistently excellent customer experiences.

Communication and Resources

One of the biggest challenges in channel sales and service is ensuring alignment and effective communication across all stakeholders, including manufacturers, distributors, and re-sellers. Different parties often have distinct goals, processes, expectations, and priorities. These can often cause misaligned business objectives and customer confusion.

Besides, channel partners are typically not equipped with as many resources as an OEM to tailor products, parts, and services to customers’ issues. The tools at a channel partner’s disposal might not suffice for unique problems that pop up on the customers’ sites. They can increase service times, impacting customer experience and jeopardizing customers’ trust in the brand.

Control and Compliance

Maintaining control and ensuring compliance within the channel can be tricky. The complexity of product lines and distribution channels increases the chances of non-compliance. The divergence between stated goals and achievement in service and sales delivery can lead to poor customer experience. Channel partners may not share or enforce policies set by OEMs, risking the brand’s reputation.

Inadequate Support

Even the most straightforward partner relationship requires specialized processes and workflows, particularly if you’re addressing service delivery. These workflows need to be supported by IT solutions that provide channel partners and OEMs with the appropriate levels of visibility, control, and data-driven insights to deliver exceptional service consistently.

More often than not, these IT solutions are a patchwork of point solutions that create data silos and increase system fragmentation. The lack of communication between these point solutions slows service operations and increases costs.

The 5 Channel Partner Qualities That Lead to Excellent Customer Experiences

A crucial step in overcoming the above challenges is ensuring a robust technological foundation. However, before we dive into the nitty-gritty of a solution, let’s clearly define the qualities channel partners must have to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience.

Understanding and empathy: Understanding customers’ issues and showing empathy is vital for establishing a good relationship and trust. Feeling the customer’s pain is sometimes the only motivation for doing whatever it takes to resolve problems. Sales and service partners with long track records of trust have technicians who understand what’s at stake for customers when equipment fails.

Fairness: Central to trust is the customer’s perception of fairness. Customers who believe they receive the same treatment as others see their account managers and support representatives as consistent, transparent, and easy to work with.

Flexibility: In the world of sales and service, one size does not fit all. Providing customers with choices and flexibility is crucial for ensuring their specific needs and preferences are attended to. Managing product and service options efficiently and being able to advise on the best fit for the customer leads to excellent customer experiences.

Expectations: Timely, relevant information is the key. Customers appreciate knowing what to expect. Information should include how and when something will happen, why it happened in a certain way, and what the next steps are. It’s a balance. Avoiding information overload is vital to creating a pleasant customer experience.

Time:  A customer's time is precious, and organizations should respect it. Sales and service representatives who are prepared, organized, and concise with their communications are not only efficient but are also demonstrating respect for their customers' time.

Overcoming the Partner Channel Challenges

Scoring high on all the five qualities of excellent customer experience is only a start. It’s the OEM’s job to ensure that channel partners can meet the mark. Here are a few things OEMs can do to address the communication, control, and technological challenges and bolster customers’ experiences.

Strengthen Coordination

It's essential to implement strategies for channel coordination and align delivery efforts with channel partners. These happen within a robust service framework. Any established framework should focus on improving the coordination of roles, responsibilities, actions, and activities among all stakeholders.

It's here that technology lends a hand. Platforms, such as Atheer’s, create a collaborative communication system so that a partner’s technicians, an OEM’s support team, and the customers’ operations personnel seamlessly share data and work together to resolve issues faster.

Facilitate Process Standardization

When OEMs have high service delivery expectations, compliance becomes a top priority for improvement. Atheer works to help channel partner managers introduce process and quality assurance standardization. It helps their channel partners adhere to standard procedures and deliver service based on the same proven methods.

Promote Training and Knowledge Transfer

High-quality service requires OEMs to share their knowledge about the products, services, and procedures with channel partners. Using Atheer, OEMs equip technicians and operators with self-service tools, diagnostic and training materials, performance insights, and more. These resources can instantly decrease the time spent on site and increase first-time-fix rates.

In a Nutshell

Delivering a consistently excellent customer experience through a partner requires focused, executive management attention. The challenges discussed, from alignment and communication issues to control and compliance complexities, underscore the importance of effective service delivery across all of an OEM’s customer touchpoints, be it field service, on-site support, or remote customer assistance.

The good thing is that service delivery doesn’t have to suffer when trusted channel partners have the skills and knowledge they need to collaborate and standardize procedures. Discover how Atheer’s platform contributes to excellent customer experiences.

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Micki Collart

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