LP Magazine

NOV-DEC 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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I always thought to myself that if our vendors would communicate with us more often, then they would become solution providers. Now, having lived on the vendor side for five years, I noticed that communication isn't always easily forthcoming from the retail side either. And I relearned what my experience as an investigator first taught me—that communication is a two-way street. SOLUTIONS SHOWCASE CONTROLTEK Let's Sit at the Same Side of the Table Or How to Be a Better Partner By Stefanie Hoover, CFI W ith a regular blog titled "Confessions of a Forensic Interviewer," you'd think that every week I'd have something to say about interviews. I do. But here's the thing: I'm a solution provider now. In order for me to write regularly, I have to write about my experience, and what I've experienced since transitioning from retail loss prevention five years ago to solution provider has been, well, a lot. Thinking back to when I worked for various retailers over the years and bumping into "vendors," let's just say I was mostly underwhelmed (though sometimes pleasantly surprised) at the service we received. My role brought me into contact with field technicians and occasionally a manager, if something had gone haywire. I was there during installations as the eye in the sky or checking on the work after it was done and saw a whole range of behaviors on the job, from taking extra-long lunches, to flirting with store staff, to just plain shoddy workmanship. Not everything was negative, as I said. There were pleasant surprises too: techs who showed up on time with a name badge, checked out at the end of shift, and walked me through the work that they did. Through all my years of working with vendors, I never once had a supervisor, project manager, or account rep call and ask me how the job went. This was curious to me. Wouldn't they want feedback from the customer directly? I always thought to myself that if our vendors would communicate with us more often, then they would become solution providers. Now, having lived on the vendor side for five years, I noticed that communication isn't always easily forthcoming from the retail side either. And I relearned what my experience as an investigator first taught me—that communication is a two-way street. So this will be a two-way article. I'll offer suggestions for improving the retailer-vendor communications from both sides, so regardless of which side of the table you are sitting at, you may find a helpful nugget. Being a Great Customer If you are a retailer who wants a rock-star vendor, don't just sit back and wait for it to happen on its own. When you've gone through all the trouble to select a vendor—or even if you have a long-term partnership—talk about your expectations and then follow up on them. Almost every retailer has a service-level agreement (SLA) or master service agreement (MSA) in place, but how many actually talk about those things that make that SLA run? For instance, you may have an SLA in place that states your vendor needs to respond to service calls within five days; however, are there any mechanisms in place to make sure each service call is placed with a maximum amount of information from your end, so the vendor's tech can properly complete the job when on site? If your store isn't satisfied with something about their service, can they document the issue, or does it go by word-of-mouth to the loss prevention manager? You'll see a common thread here: it's communication. Many times, frustrations start to develop because the retailer waits too long to share the issues. The larger the organization, the more delays there are, and the quicker these frustrations pile up. Do you have a regular touch-base with your vendors? It may not be the most exciting conference call of your week, but regular calls can help to develop a rapport, and you may be surprised that information starts to flow, 69 LP MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2018

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