Why We Invested in a Technology Partnership
A guest blog from DataQuest Solutions, a longtime technology partner of Chicago Glue.
In this guest blog, you’ll hear from Arline Welty, Principal at DataQuest Solutions. DataQuest is a longtime technology partner of Chicago Glue & Machine, providing us with business management software that supports all elements our company. In this post, you’ll see why we invested in technology with DataQuest and the technology that provides us with automations, alerts, and reporting. Our goal in all of our partnerships is to provide excellent customer support. And we believe that technology is one of the most vital ways that we can be a strong vendor to you, our valued customers.
What’s the value of investing in technology?
Great technology enables great service. Chicago Glue knows that a key differentiator in its market is the service they provide to customers. If they cannot provide reliable, trustworthy service, customers will look elsewhere. So, the investments that the company makes keep that differentiator as a focal point. In this blog you’ll see how the front-line staff rely on a solid technology stack so they can present the best “face” for the company when providing service to customers.
The technology investments that Chicago Glue has made all keep the customer experience in mind.
For example, one of the pivotal questions the team asks about technology enhancements is, “Will this investment make it easier for our customers to order?”
What does it mean to make it easy for customers to order?
Here are a few examples of technology choices that Chicago Glue has made that make it easier for customers to order.
1. Store customer information in the customer’s own language. When customers call, they ask for things in their own way. They refer to part numbers that aren’t Chicago Glue part numbers. Or they might just say, “Send me the paste glue.” And they’re comfortable enough with the Chicago Glue team that they might even ask, “Can I have whatever I ordered last time?” This is where Chicago Glue needs to equip everyone answering the phone with the knowledge to seamlessly take that information and translate it to a new order. The technology solution here is that we present the Chicago Glue part number alongside the customer’s own words to make it easy for the person on the phone. A single Chicago Glue part number could have an unlimited number of “customer part numbers” that match it.
Chicago Glue calls it “1150 EN 001TOTE.” But customers might refer to it as “Adhesive Paste”, “Paste Glue”, or “1010 Paste.” The way a customer says it is the way Chicago Glue needs to hear it.
2. Know the customer’s preferences. Another way the Chicago Glue team makes it easy for customers to order is by knowing their preferences. It’s not enough for a single superstar customer service person to deeply understand a handful of key accounts. The knowledge must be shared among the team so that anyone answering the phone knows each customer’s special instructions. The technology solution we use here is Orchid Pop-up Notes (referred to affectionately at Chicago Glue as ‘Zippy Notes’). These notes can be added to the order entry screen. The notes show anyone entering the order whether the customer has special instructions and allow the team to demonstrate that the customer preferences are important!
The Chicago Glue team member begins a customer order. Straight away, the “zippy notes” appear, showing customer-specific information that can help any associate understand the customer preferences.
“Zippy notes are a friendly reminder that every customer is different. The notes help us make sure that each and every order is processed accurately. They ensure that anyone taking a call has the same information about our customers so we never skip a beat.” – Inside Sales Associate, Becky Grotjan
“I find zippy notes helpful when putting together a purchase order. Most of our vendors have minimum order quantities, either in weight or dollars, and some offer free freight depending on the weight or dollar amount of the order. I also have the capability to add a zippy note tied to a specific item/product that will print on the purchase order, for example if the item requires special shipping instructions or labelling.” – Purchasing Team Member, Tracy McMahon
3. Remind customers to order. The sales team at Chicago Glue also makes it easy to be proactive with orders. We’ve configured an alert for the sales team that analyzes customer order frequency. For example, the sales team is notified when a customer who normally orders every few months has not ordered in 90 days. That provides a proactive tool for the salesperson to reach out to her customers and confirm whether their product levels are low and may need to be replenished.
Good Data In, Good Data Out
Another key principle in making it easy for customers to order is being able to rely on high-quality, clean inventory data in all the business management systems.
The Chicago Glue team uses a highly developed approach to inventory management. The team is disciplined and the software is sophisticated enough to handle predictions, purchasing recommendations, and replenishment advice. The inventory is lot-tracked and the team does regular cycle counts.
Purchasing is managed closely with a very detailed and responsive cube reporting solution. This means that customers get reliable data related to ship dates on their orders, and that any information related to product changes moves rapidly through the system.
A Solid Technology Partnership Makes it Possible (and even fun)
The Chicago Glue technology investments have been made in close consultation with DataQuest Solutions. The relationship with DataQuest has been fostered over decades, and is one built on fundamentally compatible values. “Trust is high between our companies. The leadership at DataQuest combines high technical aptitude with a genuine interest in our business,” said Nirel Inman, Co-President.
The values and culture fit between the two companies manifest in several ways:
1. DataQuest’s commitment to educating and empowering the Chicago Glue staff through a culture of collaboration.
2. Designing solutions that help Chicago Glue institutionalize knowledge instead of having knowledge dispersed and “gated.”
3. Providing continuous documentation on both native product functionality and custom enhancements.
4. DataQuest’s high level of discipline resulting in a high-quality work product.
I remember one of the first decrees my business partner and DataQuest founder, Mark Binkley, gave me in an early design session: “There is nothing more important than the customer’s data.” The gravity of that directive has never left me. It is that gravity that drives our disciplined approach to the work, our emphasis on transparency, and our insistence on documentation both for our benefit and for that of our customers.
Because we have such a strong values match, it also makes it fun to raise a glass every now and then.
It’s not all data, sometimes it’s just a joyful photo around the holidays! From top left: Chicago Glue Co-President Nirel Inman, Chicago Glue Purchasing and Quality Manager Jennifer Larson, Chicago Glue Office Leader Maria Hernandez, Chicago Glue Administrative Assistant Michelle Weippert, DataQuest Partner Arline Welty
DataQuest Founder Mark Binkley, Chicago Glue Co-Founder Irwin Katz, Chicago Glue Co-President Nirel Inman, DataQuest Partner Arline Welty, WebIT Founder and President Eric Rieger
Technology Investment Pays Off
The ultimate result of these investments is a great customer experience at Chicago Glue. These investments contribute to Chicago Glue’s most recent Net Promoter Score of 71. (An NPS of 71 is extremely difficult to obtain, it’s higher than Zappos (58) and Ritz-Carlton (68)).
The team leverages technology in order to share data internally, build up the database of customer information, and automate processes wherever possible. This is something that Chicago Glue has been grooming for years. All the pieces work together toward the ultimate goal: providing excellent customer service that differentiates Chicago Glue.
To learn more about the technology stack that Chicago Glue uses, please get in touch with Arline.