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5. Managing Customer Requirements

How do you identify the real needs of your customers? You will need to think about all the interactions you have with your customers, from enquiry and quote through orders and delivery. Don’t forget about the after sales services you provide your customers.

Identify Key Customers

Create a database of existing customers and record:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Contact phone / fax / email addresses
  • Website details
  • Names and job titles of contacts

Document how you process customer enquires

These may be ‘requests for information’ or quotations.

Create an Enquiry Register

  • Do you use a Day Book, Call Log, or enter data direct to a CRM?

Whatever method you use, ensure that the contact details are recorded for future reference.

If the request is for a quotation, make sure you gather sufficient information.

  • Check all contact details
  • Check if the product or service is to be delivered to a site address different to the office address?
  • Check transport arrangements
  • Check order quantities
  • Check specifications – are there any special compliance issues?
  • Check delivery dates required by the customer

If you are using Price Lists, are you sure you have the most recent version?

Document how you prepare the quotation

Record calculations used and file together with the quotation.

Review the quotation for accuracy – check the calculations / estimates.

Review the final quotation and check to see if it addresses all of your customer’s requirements.

Document how you process customer orders

What happens when you receive a customer order?

If you had raised a quotation for this customer it would be prudent to review the quote and check that all customer requirements match. If there are differences then contact with the customer should be made as quickly as possible to confirm the variations.

Documented evidence of these reviews should be maintained; this can be as simple as making notes on the customer order or by adding comments in your CRM.

What happens next depends on whether your company “makes to order” or “makes for stock”.

Organisations that “make to order” would generally pass the customer order to the production or service department to start the planning process.

Organisations that “make to stock” often pass the customer order directly to the warehouse for picking and packaging.

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