How to Be a Lovable Company
Omaha, NE—You don’t normally associate words like “lovable” with software companies, but customers of DMSi Software think it’s an apt description. In customer satisfaction surveys, the word “love” comes up more than you would expect: “I love you guys,” “we love your software,” “I love your support team,” “you guys are just so damn lovable.”
So, what does it take for a company to inspire this kind of feeling among its customers? DMSi’s recipe for success is one that can be followed by any lumber yard that prioritizes customer relationships.
All businesses know good service is key to building customer loyalty. But while leadership may say service is a priority, the reality is service quality depends on the company’s employees. Interactions with employees are powerful factors shaping a customer’s overall opinion of a company.
So how does a company make sure customers have the right experience? It starts with hiring the right people.
DMSi is uncompromising about hiring candidates that fit the company’s service-oriented culture. In addition to intelligence and experience, DMSi management looks for people who are thoughtful of others and find personal satisfaction in team success.
Kerry Blusys, a Senior Account Manager at DMSi, said, “We value our people and we want them to value what they are doing.”
When you have naturally service-oriented people who value relationships, it’s easy to build positive connections. DMSi customers develop lasting relationships with the employees who install their software and answer their support calls. When DMSi customers and employees see each other at tradeshows or the company’s biennial customer conference, the smiles and handshakes are those of old friends rather than client and service provider.
Kerry Blusys said, “I have been with DMSi since the first decade of existence. We treat our clients like family. That‘s more than being friendly on the phone or remembering people’s names. We genuinely like our customers, we want to see them succeed, and we’ll work our butts off to help them. Because that’s what you do for family.”
Part of delivering good service is knowing what matters to your customers. A phone call letting a customer know a shipment is on its way is a small gesture. But during the busy season when product availability is critical, that phone call may be a great relief.
For a business to deliver the highest quality service, employees must understand customers and their priorities. That contextual knowledge allows employees to provide more meaningful service. This is why DMSi makes internal education a priority.
“We have a lot of employees with strong accounting or logistics backgrounds. Those skills bring great value, but we also want to be sure they understand the world our customers live in. We have on-going employee education so our people understand the products our customers sell and the unique elements of their businesses,” said Brent McNurlin, Market Team Coordinator.
In addition to internal classes, visits to customer locations are key to employee training. “Seeing a lumber operation in person, talking to the people who count on our software to do their jobs, it gives a totally different perspective on what we’re trying to accomplish,” said McNurlin. “Our objective is to have every employee at DMSi visit a customer at least once a year – from our software developers to our marketing team, everyone. That context helps us build products that actually meet our customers’ needs.”
In addition to working with individual customers, DMSi staff are active participants in multiple trade associations, with NAWLA being a prime example. Not only are these associations valuable in building and maintaining relationships, but they also put DMSi at the heart of industry developments and concerns. DMSi’s Director of Customer Support Anthony Muck, who has served on multiple NAWLA committees, said “We track all aspects of the industry and marketplace, including price, transportation and sourcing. This way, we can proactively help our customers adapt to changing elements.”
Build Good Solutions
Deciding which products to carry is a strategic decision for any business. Is that “hot” item a good addition, or will it just sit in your warehouse? Technology companies face a similar issue: is this new technology worth pursuing or just a flash in the pan? No matter the industry, companies need to decide where to invest resources and which products are worth bringing to market.
DMSi bases its decisions on the needs and priorities of customers. Its development teams prioritize new features and products based on the value they deliver to customers’ businesses.
For instance, the company’s flagship product, Agility ERP, is an end-to-end platform that handles all core business processes. But it really shines in inventory control and order management as these areas have always been top priorities for DMSi’s customers. The company invested heavily in functionality to more easily handle the complexities of dimensional products, units of measurement, inventory optimization, and fulfillment issues. Anthony Muck said, “The two key factors that differentiate Agility are inventory control and order management. Those two features are above and beyond all the others.”
DMSi continues to drive Agility forward, expanding and adding features to meet customers’ changing needs. Scott Davis, Business Analyst for DMSi, added, “As our customers evolved and started selling different products and providing different services, Agility has changed right along with them. We can handle what sawmills and other manufacturers do, and our sweet spot has always been with distributors, but now we can go further down the chain to point of sale and the retail environment. If Agility doesn’t handle something the way our customers need, we have the ability to build it.”
A classic challenge in order fulfillment is timely transfer of information, especially for activities outside office walls. DMSi addresses this by leveraging mobile technology. For instance, their Mobile Sales app lets outside reps check stock levels, get job-specific pricing, and even submit orders directly from their smartphone. This means the rep can provide the answers and services the customer wants during the sales meeting rather than needing to return to the office first. The Mobile Warehouse Tools app lets warehouse staff calculate, enter, and submit inventory counts from the yard or warehouse floor, making counts faster and reducing paperwork. The Mobile P.O.D. app lets delivery drivers capture electronic signatures and confirmation photos. Then the electronic signature is automatically generated on the relevant forms and emailed to the accounting department with all signatures, pictures of the delivery and everything needed to verify receipt.
As Brent McNurlin explained, “We are providing instant gratification and instant answers to issues that matter. Previously, our customers would scan in their delivery tickets that night or the next day. Now with Mobile P.O.D., they can have an update in 30 seconds or less. They can immediately know the status of an order. ”
DMSi is hardly the first company to recognize the importance of customer relationships. What makes the company different is its willingness to invest in elements that make those relationships possible: hiring practices, employee education, and targeted product development. Companies willing to treat those building blocks as priorities can see the same success.
This article originally appeared in the publication Softwood Forest Products Buyer.