Over the past month, I've been sharing some simple rules to follow when running a supply chain data collection campaign:
- Contact the correct people
- Communicate the Why and the How effectively
- Make it simple to complete (or pass on to the right person)
- Recognize and reward good behaviour
The final post in the series looks at maximizing your campaign’s response rate.
Tip 5: Monitor and chase
You should have a plan in place to keep track of how your campaign is progressing. Once data collection has started, it needs to be easy for you to monitor its status. Progress chasing has to be simple too, and for the most part, automated. Otherwise, your campaign will be almost impossible to complete successfully.
To make sure the people within your supply chain understand that you do expect a response from them, I would always recommend a well thought out campaign with set reminders (e.g. emails, SMS, telephone messages), and rewards and appropriate penalties clearly set out from the start.
When chasing people for a response, it is important that you only focus on the non-responders, and do not take up any more time of those supplier contacts who have gone to the trouble of completing your request on time.
Ideally: In the ideal scenario, the retailer has full visibility of the overall status of their data collection project, with analytics relating to each individual request (how many messages have been opened, how many surveys started, how many individuals have completed your request). They should also be able to see chase details – the number of reminders sent, the response rate to chasing, and so on.
In a multi-level request, the collection process is likewise visible across all layers to allow progress tracking. For example, where an ingredient supplier has been contacted by a manufacturer, this is transparent to all involved.
Finally, the reminder process is as automated as possible, with the correct people in the chain reminded at pre-set intervals. Following automated email follow-up, escalation could involve pre-recorded telephone reminders or SMS messages.
Typically: The everyday reality falls far short of our ideal scenario. Retailers have to wade through their Outlook inboxes to try to piece together the current status of their campaigns, and to manually create reminder emails. The whole data collection process is slow, inefficient and work-intensive.
In this series of blog posts we have covered a set of principles that - I have found - really help improve the performance of any data collection campaign within a retailer’s supply chain. Many of the tips contain some of the simplest common sense, but I have seen them ignored time and time again, predominantly due to the fact that many think of B2B communications as working differently to any other kind.
If there is one overriding message I hope is taken from this series, it is that we should take a few moments to look at the process from the other side, and imagine being the recipient of a retailer’s request for data. Would you be able to find the time to respond as promptly and properly as you expect your suppliers to?