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7.13.21 – CI

Communicating with customers as you deal with global supply chain issues will help your integration firm in the long rung.

Ever since the economy rebounded faster than anticipated during the pandemic, product availability and supply chain issues has been a huge issue across a range of industries – including pro AV.

Due to shortages of hardware, semiconductors and display glass, integrators have been forced to wait months for components to complete a project, spend time and money researching and testing alternative products and plead with customers to bear with them as they navigate these fluctuating issues.

Some integration firms at an NSCA roundtable discussion featuring Synnex and integration firms on this issue reported losing bid projects to competitors because they had a required product in stock. Others say exploring alternative products is proving to be too time consuming. Some even said these issues are leading to miscommunication between sales reps, project managers and engineers.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with these problems, there is one thing that every integration firm should be doing with customers: communication. Lots of it.

Customers know about these supply chain issues

To understand the product availability issues plaguing global supply chains, look no further than the automotive industry. Car manufacturers depend hugely on semiconductors, and have been a huge drain on the global silicon supply that electronics devices require. That means PCs, gaming consoles and other consumer electronics are also impacted.

Buying new generations of the Xbox or PlayStation consoles when they debuted last year was difficult due to these shortages, and buying a car is still challenging.

If your customers are paying attention to these global headlines, then they won’t be surprised when you’re honest about the delay.

In fact, integration firms attending the roundtable report minimal complaints about these issues. One accountant for an AV integrator said getting payment for the products the company does have it stock hasn’t been an issue.

Another integration professional said that as long as you are honest and explain your challenges, customers are understanding. These issues have been in headlines for months, and customers are well aware of these challenges.

Overcommunicate and establish credibility

The importance of communicating these issues cannot be stressed enough. Integrators must be upfront and honest about any supply chain issues they’re experiencing and overcommunicate with customers about what to expect.

Integrators – specifically the sales department – should keep in constant contact with their customers so they know when you’re able to deliver on the project.

Above all else, communication should be the main focus when talking with customers about any supply chain issues, including delays, cost increases or working with different products.

If you are able to keep the customer and they bear with you during the manufacturing and shipping delays all the way through to project completion, you will have established credibility with that customer.

The end result there is a customer pleased that you went out of your way to help them out during a very strange time for the integration community.