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Blog May 2022

Customer service: make or break for building-material distributors

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In 2021, the building-materials industry experienced a strong recovery in the EMEA. But today, increasing energy costs are contributing to soaring production costs and prices for the very products they need from you. Supply-chain problems, which never really went away, still persist. This is the reality for customers in the industry. Even with strong demand for materials across the EMEA, customers’ margins are squeezed to the brink.

This makes the customer service they rely on all the more critical. To be complacent about customer service, to expect their loyalty, is to set yourself up for eventual failure. Think about the pressures they face and address those issues. To do that – to become customer centric – building-material distributors need to digitalise.

Digitalisation is customer-centric

The most effective way to improve customer service is through accurate, real-time information. This has obvious benefits for adopters, such as reducing operating expenses and expanding their margins while making them more agile. Adopters become far more efficient, which translates to better customer service and if the adopter chooses, cost savings for their customers. At the very least, adopters are able to provide them with outstanding value, which is in itself a form of good customer service.

Digitalisation happens when devices are connected to each other over the internet and exchange data. This creates transparency across operations. Without digitalisation, companies are divided into silos. You work with cumbersome spread sheets and systems limited in capabilities. You have to wait for information that reflects events as they happened hours or even days ago. You’re unable to respond quickly to customer needs.  

Building-material distribution involves fragmented processes. Digitalisation handles the multi-tasking necessary with ease. It enables adopters to standardise and integrate these processes, creating better value not only for themselves, but for their customers.

Another consideration for companies within the EU: tenders for public construction projects are completed and submitted digitally. Construction companies who are already digitalising will expect their suppliers and contractors to have the same capabilities. Building-material distributors who refuse to take those steps will be left behind.

Addressing customer needs

If you can move faster, you can better serve your customers. This is what adopters are doing every day. With full transparency across operations, adopters can see the resources they have available at different depots across all regions. Planning becomes centralised, more efficient and based on true events and situations as they are in real time. As those events change, planning is reoptimised. This, of course, makes it easier to ensure the customer’s needs are seamlessly taken care of.

Reassurance for your customers

Digitalisation simplifies the complexities involved in building-material distribution so that you can deliver first-class service to customers. For instance, digitalisation allows you to monitor stock levels. If order volumes change, digital tools let you track progress off site. The information is used to reoptimise orders against the available resources, factoring in lead times and transport costs, while optimising routes.

And if a customer suddenly experiences sudden dry running, then route optimisation can redirect the loads so that you waste no time in coming to their aid. Route optimisation always ensures the most efficient routes, avoiding rush hours and traffic jams. It enables you to stick to tight time windows and demonstrate reliability to customers. Knowing they can count on you is how you inspire loyalty.

Digitalisation enables accurate stock forecasting. Nothing is left to guesswork. Demand forecasting is optimised and inventory management is standardised. Through automation, stock is replenished without eating into your own margins. Set order cycles and quantities based on accurate data. Deliver to customers just in time. And imagine if a weighbridge system could send you data. How would that affect the customers who depend on you?

Making their experience convenient

You can also make it easier on your customers by adding value with electronic documentation. Using a mobile device, drivers can carry certificates and capture photos and signatures. Drivers don’t have to waste customers’ time by searching for the right paperwork. This is especially helpful for customers who need aggregates, where certificates of authenticity are sometimes required.

Digitalisation also automates common interactions for customers’ convenience. They can manage their own account by viewing information such as balances, place orders and, using an integrated payment solution, reduce their own administration costs (and yours) and pay you quicker.

Giving customers transparency builds trust, which of course, builds loyalty. Customer experiences that include transparency strengthens your relationships.

Improve customer service by up to 33%

Digitalisation can significantly improve customer service. Our own customers report their levels have improved by up to 33%. They’ve also reduced planning time by up to 75% and mileage, by up to 25%. These figures reflect the efficiencies and the agility that building-material distributors gained, which helped them better respond to customer needs – hence the 33% increase in service levels.

We’ve talked about the benefits of digitalisation here that our own technologies make possible. Talk to us to find out how you – and your customers – can benefit from AMCS Cement Planner, AMCS Concrete Planner, and AMCS Aggregate Planner. To learn more, we urge you to contact us today.

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Building Materials Industry Guide

Read about the AMCS Solution for the building materials industry for improving efficiencies and increasing margins.

Read the Industry Guide

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