Author: Jennifer Kraus, Chief Scientific Officer, EVP of Operations, Source Intelligence
Those that know me are cognizant of the fact that I refer to myself, among other things 🙂 as an amateur genealogist. I’m particularly interested in ancestors of mine that supported the American Revolution and as a result have been active with the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for a few years now. It should be no surprise, then that I’ve come to really appreciate this particular time in our country’s history; and so, I feel it’s noteworthy to point out that 243 years ago today, in 1776, the U.S. postal service was created. Benjamin Franklin was our first Postmaster General whose main responsibility was to ensure letters and intelligence were conveyed between Congress and the revolutionary army leaders.
Here at SI, intelligence is critical in enabling our clients to demonstrate compliance and transparency. This intelligence is derived from the data and information collected by our San Diego-based Supplier Engagement Team that works with companies all over the world. The overall strategy is to engage suppliers in such a way so that existing customer-supplier relationships are preserved and data is collected efficiently and expeditiously.
We’ve deployed many strategies for supplier engagement over the years and have learned that some strategies work for certain groups of suppliers and other strategies work for others. For example, in-app messaging is one of those features that has significantly improved our response time for customer service. However, we have found this not as useful when engaging with China-based suppliers. Emails in Chinese and phone calls to find the right point of contact have been critical to the success of our China-based supplier engagement. Not having the right person at the other end of the conversation results in confusion and delays. As such, we partner closely with our clients to ensure the supplier contact data is as clean, up-to-date and relevant as possible.
There are many telecom apps used by the suppliers with whom we engage and we are ready and willing to use whatever is best for them. Whether it’s GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, etc. – we make it work. The ability to screen share while working with a supplier on a particular request is valuable so that a SI team member can see what the supplier sees and guide them effectively to complete the task at hand.
One of the values we bring to the table, is that our customer service center is housed at our corporate location where all other departments are located including Operations and IT. This fosters continuous, barrier-free, quality communication between all those in the company who are responsible for delivery and development. This ensures customer needs and expectations are always at the forefront of platform development and program management.
On the topic of continuous evolution, we are deploying client – and program – specific product tours that enable suppliers to clearly understand what type of data is requested of them and how to share it. Our tours are in-app, step-by-step walkthroughs of our platform and connect suppliers to an extensive knowledge base that consists of documents, presentations and videos in multiple languages. One of the strongest features of our tours are that suppliers are guided through the tour in real time – so no need to complete the tour first and then go back and complete upload the document or add the data.
I’ve always been a big believer in the value of the traditional face-to-face conversation. That alas, is not scalable or practical with the type of global outreach we do every day. I will say however, that suppliers are always grateful to get a live person on the other end of a chat or phone line as opposed to a pre-recorded message or bot trying to anticipate the answer to a complex question. The truth is, while snail mail and fax are not completely dead, innovations in the way in which we communicate with suppliers make the job of our Supplier Engagement Team more rewarding. We are all very excited about the use of some of the newer technologies, such as AI and how this will enable our continued growth and progress. Stay tuned!