Communication defines quality

By Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations

This article was published in the February 2019 edition of NTEA News.

Who defines quality — the supplier or customer? While there is no easy answer — and, as the supplier, you need to ensure customer satisfaction — there are strategies to help maximize quality of the final product.

Many define quality as superior workmanship, but I encourage you to take it a step further. A key challenge is some customers feel they are always right. While they are the driving force when it comes to keeping your company’s doors open, it’s important to read deeper than the ink on the page.

What does this have to do with quality? Sometimes, the customer is not always right. They want what they believe is needed, as they are in a position to know their operations better than anyone else. This is where communication defines quality. As a supplier, manufacturer or upfitter, you know what products best serve the industry and can help match them to your current or prospective customers.

Setting expectations
Work truck industry businesses utilize a lot of specialized equipment and knowledge when building vocational vehicles. Purchasers commonly design complex equipment that isn’t a turnkey, off-the-shelf concept. This is an opportunity for you as an industry supplier to showcase your expertise and take a proactive approach in setting expectations. Effective communication will help increase the quality of your offerings.

Time is a commodity to you and your customers. It’s critical to maintain a personal link, but understand bandwidth is often short. This is where clear, concise, two-way communication comes in. Without it, product quality can suffer immensely. This may not be from poor workmanship or quality of material — it could be something as simple as the unit not performing the intended function efficiently.

When working with customers, you likely use several forms of communication, such as personal visits, phone calls or emails. All of these interactions can add up and start to become noise, which can easily get lost among other daily business activities.

Putting it all together
Taking all the various forms of communication and following up with a single stream should help cut through the static so you can get to the heart of your customers’ current needs. This, in turn, will enable you to provide the highest quality products for them. In the end, you can become an even more valuable supplier and increase the potential for repeat business.

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