It was one of those "hooray" moments.
Just before Christmas, a colleague had pointed me to a Gallup Business Journal article entitled How to Become a Customer of Choice With Your Suppliers.
At Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB), we spend all day every day helping retailers achieve exactly that goal - to become a customer of choice with their suppliers. Understandably, then, I was pleased to see that someone like Gallup (an international business giant) felt this was an important area to research and write about.
At the same time, I'll admit I was just a little nervous as I began to read. What if Gallup thought that our way wasn't the right way? What if their research somehow didn't match up with ours?
Of course, I needn't have worried. For 1200 words the author, Marco Nink, wrote persuasively and passionately about the business benefits of becoming a supplier of choice. He also dived into some of the detail of how to make it happen.
Supplier Engagement is all about making sure that your suppliers are as committed to your goals and values as you are. Good Supplier Engagement practice leads directly to becoming your suppliers' customer of choice.
Gallup have identified 5 key elements of good Supplier Engagement - Clarity, Simplicity, Integrity, Reciprocity, Connectivity. At S4RB, we usually boil these down to just two big words: understanding (clarity, simplicity, connectivity) and motivation (integrity, reciprocity). Engaged Suppliers understand what they need to do, and feel motivated to do it.
It's about Respect
"Good suppliers want your company to treat them with respect. Yet in many industries, companies see suppliers as cost factors that they need to manage rather than as key partners that can make or break the success of the business."
-Marco Nink, Senior Practice Expert at Gallup
Building your suppliers' understanding and motivation is something that can only be done properly when you show them respect. Or to put it another way, Supplier Engagement only happens when you treat the people who work for your suppliers like people.
Achieving this isn't rocket science. In fact, it boils down to putting a little thought and effort into three key areas:
- Make sure you get your communications right. Send clear, well-presented and relevant messages to your suppliers, and make sure the right people see those messages. Of course, you should also ensure that there is a way for your suppliers to initiate contact with you.
- Support your suppliers. Give them the tools, information and help that they need to do their job well.
- Practice transparency. Share information with your suppliers. Let them know that they are a valued part of your team, and let them see how well they are performing so they can take action to improve without you even having to ask.
The Joy of being a Customer of Choice
Remember where we started: Good Supplier Engagement leads directly to becoming a customer of choice for your suppliers. In reality, that means all sorts of business benefits - from lower costs to increased customer satisfaction.
I'd like to leave you with an infographic taken from the Gallup article that sparked this blog post. What could you be doing differently to start experiencing these benefits in your company?
Read the whole Gallup.com article here: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/180275/become-customer-choice-suppliers.aspx