Customer Service in the Bottled Water Industry and Home & Office Water Delivery
It's not uncommon to hear companies discussing the importance of providing excellent customer service and providing excellence to customers. The truth is, very few people actually take the steps necessary to achieve this excellence. The bottled water business is especially affected by this because not every supplier believes that customer service is of the utmost importance.
With numerous companies and individual clients, the bottled water industry has a wide customer base. There are relatively few large companies in this industry, compared to a substantial number of small companies targeting specific geographical niches.
The Nature of the Business:
In the bottled water business, spring or purified water is packaged and delivered in small bottles or large containers, such as 5 gallon bottles. Either company-owned delivery vehicles or common carriers deliver the product directly to the customer. Each individual bottled water company makes an implicit promise to its customers that it will manufacture the highest quality product and deliver it on time.
Many, Many Customers:
The bottled water industry has a diverse customer base that includes individuals who buy single bottles to large business accounts with multiple coolers and large water requirements. Each client has specific requirements that are met by the company that provides the service or product.
The Customer Service Promise and the History of the Business:
Historically, bottled water companies have been more concerned about process than customer service. In many cases, firms believed that their obligation to customers ended with the delivery of a superior product. Customers expect more from the customer service promise than simply the delivery of a quality product, including on-time delivery, proper pricing, responding to additional delivery requests, and other specific service requirements. Customer communication is one of the most important responsibilities, not only with customer service departments, but also with the heads of companies.
Current Status of the Industry (The Unfulfilled Promise):
Although the bottled water industry may seem rather simple, in reality, it is a very complex business. We must produce high-quality water on time and deliver it to the customer's location as ordered. Often enough, customer requests change without warning, which is one reason why flexibility is important to the success of the bottled water company.
Frequently, the water needs of the customer exceed original expectations, which causes shortages. However, to avoid such a situation as this, the supplier would have already invested in the communication and stock infrastructure to meet all of its clients’ demands.
For those suppliers who private label water as a means of customer advertising, the design, printing, and durability of the label on the bottle is a critical factor. Therefore, companies creating labels of lesser quality in the design and printing of the labels provide a substandard product to their customers.
Communication and the Customer Promise:
It is a fact that many bottled water suppliers ignore the fact that proper communication channels are critical to fulfilling the customer promise. The lack of true customer service assistance and the reliance on voicemail and/or email have created a negative impression for many customers of the industry.
In order to create a communication system that is functional, it must include not only technical aspects, but also a willingness to involve human contact. The bottled water suppliers that continue to prosper are the ones that uphold customer service promises and guarantee personally answered customer service calls that they promptly use to address client questions and concerns.
Accept Responsibility and Do What It Takes to Provide Customer Satisfaction:
Despite the many reasons for failure to perform, the world-class bottled water suppliers are the ones who accept responsibility and persevere with customer satisfaction guarantees. It usually involves obtaining little or no profit on a particular transaction in order to fulfill the customer service promise.
The size doesn't matter when providing customer service. Often, smaller companies are ready, willing, and able to better fulfill the customer promise.
Look for a supplier with a track record of not only achieving the customer promise but also one with a history of fulfillment of the promise.