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When Customers Make Changes to Orders

#1
Hello All,
I am trying to implement a process for when customers want to make changes to their orders. We have an issue with customer requested changes going unnoticed in long email chains. We do not have any type of ERP system for handling customer orders. We are a small company that is big enough for an electronic system but management does not feel that we need to spend the money on these types of tools. Meanwhile, we have had enough instances where something was overlooked and customers are not happy because they wanted us to make a change to their order that did not happen because we did not see the request in the email text.
Since getting an electronic system is pretty much out of the question, does anyone know of a procedure that I could implement to mitigate the risk of customer changes getting missed due to a shaky process like using emails? Maybe a form that customers agree to submit when they want to make changes to their orders?

thanks,
Nicole
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted
#2
If a customer changes their order with me, I ask them to send a separate email requesting a formal change including:
PO# change is made to
Specific thing originally ordered
Specific change being requested to what was originally ordered
Person responsible/authorized for the change on the customer side

This gets it out of a long chain, and gives me CYA data as well.

Simple for a small company, and not too burdensome on the customer.
If your customer are already complaining about things being missed...I doubt they'll complain about an extra email to "make sure it's done".

It also gives you a clean, concise (hopefully) direction outside of all the other communication clutter...and something you can forward straight over to whomever controls production.

Could this work for you?
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#3
Maybe a form that customers agree to submit when they want to make changes to their orders?
From what you describe and, based on my experience, you don't need any form, especially the ones that gives more work to a customer rep. What you need is the ASSIGNMENT OF CLEAR RESPONSIBILITY and accountability within your organization. Those people who interface with customers MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE to identify, review AND COMMUNICATE order changes to the functions at your company, who need to be aware of such changes.
 

Tagin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Yea, something is going on with people not paying attention or exhibiting due diligence in reading their emails and serving their customers. That needs to be addressed.

Once that is addressed, I think a form could be helpful - it could provide 'guardrails' and guidance for employees gathering customer order change requests. It could help remind employees and customers both to think about impacts to price, lead time, shipping, etc.
 
#5
I totally agree with you @Sidney Vianna . The way it works here is that when someone makes a mistake, they do not typically own up to it. Since there is virtually no official quality system in place, it is very hard to resolve issues. The culture has been to hold on to the "old ways" of doing things because "we have been in business for 50 years and we didn't need to do any of the things you are trying to get us to do before" From the leadership all the way to the shop floor, the culture does not support the objective.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. :confused:
 
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#6
If a customer changes their order with me, I ask them to send a separate email requesting a formal change including:
PO# change is made to
Specific thing originally ordered
Specific change being requested to what was originally ordered
Person responsible/authorized for the change on the customer side

This gets it out of a long chain, and gives me CYA data as well.

Simple for a small company, and not too burdensome on the customer.
If your customer are already complaining about things being missed...I doubt they'll complain about an extra email to "make sure it's done".

It also gives you a clean, concise (hopefully) direction outside of all the other communication clutter...and something you can forward straight over to whomever controls production.

Could this work for you?
Thank you,
I will talk this over with our Customer Support Rep.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#7
Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. :confused:
Exactly. That’s why I said you don’t need a form. If people disregard customer instructions for order changes in an email string, a form is of no help.

The cultural aspect is the hardest part to change in any organization. If the “leaders” of a company allow a culture to foster that perceives customers as those pesky people who keep barraging us with orders, it is hopeless. No true quality system will ever function, because the fundamental principle of customer satisfaction is just nonexistent.

Customers are the reason, the beginning and the end of any commercial enterprise. Failure to realize that and act accordingly means you simply don’t deserve to be in business. End of story.
 

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
Trusted
#8
I totally agree with you @Sidney Vianna From the leadership all the way to the shop floor, the culture does not support the objective.
There is a 1 sentence explanation for most of your problems. Trying to implement a quality system, correct problems, or improve systems in such a place is a constant uphill fight that you will most often lose. I suggest looking for a job elsewhere or otherwise you will eventually suffer ill health from the frustration of working in such a toxic environment. Life is too short to put up with such crap.

But finding a working utopia is not likely, either. In my personal experience, and the experiences of many friends and colleagues, finding a company that truly walks their talk in the quality world > 90% of the time is very, very difficult. Most companies score about 50-70% in that area. Sounds like your company would score around 10%. YMMV.
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted
#10
Well, it happens in my business fairly often...

"I ordered 30Kg but just got an update on demand...can you make it 45Kg and ship it all together?"
A PO revision takes a couple weeks, and my normal turn time is 24-48hrs.
If they don't email me, it won't get done for weeks. The paperwork drudge catches up with reality a few weeks later.

"I know I ordered 12" wide, but could you make it 14" wide instead?"
Same deal as above.

I just got an email this morning asking for 24Kg due February 6th to instead be 40Kg shipped ASAP. From experience I know that I will get the PO revision after the material arrives at the customer...the email "in writing" is enough to patch the liability hole.

I suppose it depends on the time scale that operations works on. If you have the time to do formal drawing changes and formal paperwork signoffs I would use that method...but there's a whole lot going on in the world that runs a lot faster than that...things that can't handle "stop, wait, there's a change in process". You know what they want, you have your butt covered by the email, and you go and get it done. Paperwork follows instead of leading.
 
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