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Evaluating a supplier's customer service

Good customer service is important to all of us. And great customer service can make a huge difference in our satisfaction with a supplier. So, how can you gauge whether or not a prospective supplier can deliver on those promises of good service?

Start by asking some questions about how a sales representative and his/her customer service department work together to serve their customers. Remember that while there are no absolute answers, the answers will tell you how well this company may fit with your needs. Here are a few suggested questions:

  • How many people will I need to talk to in the normal course of a job?

  • On day-to-day issues, will I deal with the sales representative or the customer service representative (CSR)?

  • What is the basic structure of the customer service department? (Does one CSR work with three sales reps? Or is it a one-to-one ratio one sales rep to one CSR?)

  • What is the backup system if the main contacts are sick, on vacation, or otherwise not available?

  • How long have the CSRs been with the company?

  • Is the main contact readily available and at what time of day (or night)?

  • Does the sales rep and/or CSR have e-mail capabilities at work? If so, how often do they check their e-mail? And what about access via cell phones or beepers?

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