Lab Store: The Next Inspector

This is a great B2B example of a Marketing / Customer Service program operating in Fulfillment from a vendor of ours. It drives profitability on the vendor side as well as increased satisfaction on the customer side. Simple as a rock, effective on a number of levels, and measurable.

When we open a carton (usually 6 or 12 items in a carton) from this vendor, the first thing we see printed on the inside lid of the box is this message:

Our Customer is the
Next Inspector

Think about that message. If you are packing the vendor boxes, you see this message every time you start to seal the box. Every time. How much “training” would it take to have the same effect? In addition to the more direct message it sends to a packer about quality control at the carton level, it also sends a broader message to employees concerning customer experience and care. After all, the employees know customers see the same message.

Simple, direct, impactful.

As a customer, when we opened these cartons for the first time, we thought, “Wow, that is pretty neat. These guys really give a crap about what they do.” Whether they really do care or not, of course, is up for speculation, but that is not the point, is it? We think they care. In fact, my wife’s response to this message was to cut off the carton flap with the message on it and put it over the packing station. Not sure they planned for something like that, but a nice “halo effect” :).

And, unlike most of the vendors we deal with, we have never received a mis-packed box from these folks in 6 years.

I talked with the vendor about this and he filled me in. The idea came out of Marketing as a potential solution to a packing error problem that was causing nasty-gram traffic in Customer Service and the hard loss of customers. An Operational defect that had a direct and trackable negative effect on both Customer Service and Marketing – as these process problems almost always do. He doesn’t know what the ROI is because it’s silly to even calculate it – the incremental profit generated by decreased packing errors (cost reduction in “make good” shipments and returns processing) since program implementation is so large relative to the cost of printing the message on the box that the ROMI would have 8 or 9 figures to the left of the decimal point.

That’s not including any customer metrics like slowing of customer defection rate and halo effects, because those are obvious to them. Customers simply stopped defecting due to mispacked packages.

Period. Do you need to run a lot of math on a result like that to figure out if it’s profitable?

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