RS’s Mike England believes that what sets the company apart from competitors is its dedication to customer service
“Supporting our customers is absolutely at the heart of our business”, says Mike England, Chief Operating Officer at RS Components. “We have a cultural imperative which is that the customer comes first and I would go so far as to say that we are customer-obsessed as an organisation.”
"Supporting our customers is absolutely at the heart of our business"Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Components
When it comes to turning that obsession into a seamless end-to-end customer experience, RS is looking to mix old-fashioned customer service values with modern technology and innovation. “We’ve got a dedicated technical resource within the business who are there to support both our own people and our customers to solve problems or to work through their search journeys on a one-to-one basis,” explains England. “But we’ve also been expanding our very successful live chat environment, where customers can punch out from their search experience online and have a live text chat with our technical and support team within our customer service organisation.
“We firmly believe that the customer should be able to deal with us how it suits them,” he adds. “We want to make sure that every customer can very easily work with RS as their final supplier.”
RS is also committed to dealing quickly and efficiently with any issues that customers raise with its customer support team. “A recent example was where we had a customer who purchased a digital oscilloscope [used to monitor signal voltages], which he believed to be faulty,” says England. “As with all customer complaints, we took this seriously and launched an immediate investigation and temporarily removed the device from sale while we examined it.
“Our engineer worked with the device manufacturer and in our own laboratory to check the device was working correctly, which we reported back to the customer,” he adds. “The customer was still unsure, so we actually invited him to come into our lab in Corby and see the tests being done, which then gave him the piece of mind that the product was working correctly.”
"We believe that the customer should be able to deal with us how it suits them"Mike England, Chief Operating Officer, RS Components
England cites telephony as another example of how RS is improving and evolving its customer service. “We monitor every second and every minute of the day to see how we react to our customers, so we have clear measures in terms of how quickly we answer the phone and I think it’s best in market,” he says. “We don’t believe in ‘hold waiting’ systems. We believe that customers should be able to come through and talk to our customer service advisors straightaway.”
Another, very specific area of customer support RS has been looking at is helping customers find discontinued or obsolete stock. As England explains, it’s an area of the MRO business that customers find frustrating and time-consuming, and they appreciate the help of a supplier.
“We’ve built out our systems to be able to provide all of our internal teams with ‘at hand’ information about what products are becoming discontinued or obsolete,” he says. “We’ve got a tool called Obsolescence Manager which is within our DesignSpark environment where customers can, before they even design a product, have visibility of when the parts within their design are going to become discontinued or obsolete.
“We then work carefully with our suppliers to make sure that we’ve got a rapid programme of new product introductions coming in to meet our customers’ needs,” England adds. “We are always looking to improve our service and ensure our customers get the support that they need.”