Automatic Merchandiser

OCT 2011

Automatic Merchandiser serves the business management, marketing, technology and product information needs of its readers including vending operators, coffee service operators, product brokers, and product and equipment distributors in print.

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C U S T OM E R R E L A T I ON S The end users will want the following: • Good value for their money • Clean and attractive machines • Convenient payment options • New products on a regular basis STEP 3: LIST COMPANY ACTIVITIES The next step is to list every ongo- ing activity the company conducts: Training, record keeping, phone followup, fi lling bins in the ware- house, etc. STEP 4: MATCH COMPANY ACTIVITIES TO CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Then list how each activity relates to the account decision maker and how it relates to the end user. This will be a long list. It will allow every employee to see how their task affects the customer. STEP 5: HOW ROLES IMPACT CUSTOMERS The next step is to list all the posi- tions in the company and how each position impacts customer satisfac- tion. This step has taken on new importance in companies that have introduced technology tools since new technology has changed some employees' tasks. Pre-kitting and dynamic schedul- ing, for example, allow drivers to service more stops. In some cases, it results in fewer visits to locations. If the company believes main- taining contact with customers is important, management must determine how this contact will be provided. With today's communica- tion tools, there are more options for providing this than ever. Item-level reporting at the machine level allows the operator to provide customers more detailed information about location product preferences. Remote machine moni- toring gives operators a tool to make transaction information accessible to account decision makers without leaving their desks. 12 GNC Vending LLC in Houston, Texas has found the Vend.Love.Win Facebook materials helpful as customer relations tools at locations. Management must decide if pro- viding this information is benefi cial to its customer relations and if so, develop processes for gathering it and providing it. In interviewing operators, Automatic Merchandiser found varying opinions about how much information to share with custom- ers. Providing unwanted infor- mation can hurt more than help customer relations. Many operators noted that it is important to decide what informa- tion to gather since every task costs valuable employee time. STEP 6: LIST COMMUNICATION TOOLS Once the company has decided what types of information to communi- cate, and to whom, the next step is to decide what communication tools to use. These include the traditional tools such as customer newsletters, in-person visits, direct mail, telemar- keting, as well as the newer and Automatic Merchandiser VendingMarketWatch.com October 2011 more powerful tools like Internet Websites, email, and social media. The fi nal step is to executive the plan. CONSULTANTS ADVOCATE NEW TOOLS William Donohue, Ph.D., a professor and director of sales communica- tion at Michigan State University who has participated in the National Automatic Merchandising Associa- tion (NAMA) executive develop- ment program, thinks tools that give operators more feedback from end users are more important than many realize. He said account decision makers only hear from a minority of end users. "The vending machine people never get information from the people who put money in the machines," he said. "We have to somehow get more direct linkage between the operator and the people who stick money in the machines." Donohue urges operators to seek consumer input via their Websites. "Operators should explore mak- ing the vending experience more direct and even more fun," Dono- hue added. Tom Siciliano, who operates Integrity Recruiting & Consulting Inc., a Huntley, Ill.-based NAMA Knowledge Partner, said there are many online tools for businesses to use to support their social media outreach. One such tool is Hoot- Suite, which allows a user to sched- ule social media posts automatically. Siciliano said social media is a very cost effective way to reach targeted audiences. For vending operators, he said it's a great way to help clients do their jobs better. He noted there are also tools that allow a business owner to fi nd out who is looking at their online infor- mation. He suggests operators fi nd consultants who are knowledgeable about these new tools. C ONT INUED ▶

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