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Monday, 16 February 2009

Message from Keith Danby - CEO IBS-STL UK

I have to confess that I am new to communication by blog but there is always a first time!

Last week I was in the UK office and set a goal to speak to 12 of our key customers. My goal was to apologize personally to each of them for SAP problems our customers encountered before Christmas in particular and some extend even now in the two months into the New Year.

I also wanted to listen to the customers about the problems that they are confronted at the moment. It will be no surprise that there was a pattern to each of their comments. For your information these are the areas that where raised.

Reliability. Of course all customers are keen to see STL Distribution offer a reliable service. Although the service and improved considerably in the last few weeks I have admit it is not where it needs to be. I would estimate we are currently getting out 95% of the orders for same day dispatch. In a few weeks I hope this will be back to the 100% that you expect.
Fill rate. This has been poor in the past few months. Our normal goal is between 88%-92%. In the weeks leading up to Christmas it has been low 70%. Steve Apted joined STL Distribution as Head of Supply Chain Management having spent 30 years in this discipline. He has made some early gains but I think it will be several months before it is where we want it to be. Our goal for 2009 is 95%.
Back Orders. I realise this has been a real frustration to our customers. The leadership team has been focusing on this area in the past week and we hope to see some improvement in the next few weeks. We think we have solved this area but we need to do some adequate testing before we are completely satisfied.
Pricing. I understand many have experienced problems with the pricing of Zondervan and other US Supplier books. We apologize for this and we are trying to address this area quickly. Steve Apted and the Buying team are focused on resolving this area.
Website pricing. I am aware this is another area where you are experiencing problems and we hope to also have this area resolved very soon.
Credit Notes. Our Distribution team has introduced a 24/6 shift system to speed up this process.

This is some list but I want to thank you for your patience and assure you that we are doing all we can at this time to get back to a credible service.

In the meantime thank you for your business and support.


UnicorntreebooksBoss said...


Thank you for taking the time to enter the blog arena and communicate with us - It is appreciated, as is your honesty about the situation.

We'll look forward to seeing the changes as soon as is possible, at the least it will be nice if the pricing errors on invoices etc can be checked soon as that will at least be a good extra frustration gone.

Again thanks for communicating with us blog types.

UnicorntreebooksBoss said...

Dear Keith et al,
Though I still appreciate the update - it's amazing how unhappy you get when the system backfires yet again on you!

117024 Saturday, February 14, 2009£117.43 (Hymn Books)
117019 Saturday, February 14, 2009£62.75 (daily reading notes)
These two orders were from Saturday - Wednesday and nothing but Select catalogues appear! (and given the state of availability and invoicing the last few issues it's probably going to cause me a lot of headaches anyway and cause me to rethink the viability of it given the cost of them).

So I have just enquired where the orders were??
Ohh stuck in backorders for some strange reason.

These are orders for March Daily Reading notes (in stock!!) and 24hymnbooks for a customer that needs them by Friday (yes they are in stock too!!).

So the very nice person on customer services is going to TRY to get them out of Back Orders and sent through for tomorrow - not her fault the system wasn't just releasing them while we talked - also not her fault 24 hour delivery is something that's a little hit and miss. I know she is doing her best and I thank her accordingly, and really you should consider giving your customer service staff a big bonus as they are doing a good job under hazardous conditions currently.

So I reiterate it really will be very nice if you can get the glitches fixed asap please - or perhaps employ someone to look at the daily orders manually until the glitches go away? - because at this rate my business will go away before the problem gets resolved! and I don't mean that as a threat to go elsewhere, I mean that as a repercussion of these problems my customers will go away to online alternatives or other suppliers - and yep in the long run I guess that does mean my business goes away, permanently and irrevocably.

Please resolve this - if you have to scrap the system and go back to pen and paper double check and real time persons then I would heartily recommend it.

Anonymous said...

A warm welcome to the blogosphere from me, too, Keith, though I think you'll need to do much more than blog your way out of this mess — but whatever you do, please don't try to make quick savings by cutting back on staff.

Your staff are your strength and you as their employer have as much responsibility towards them as they do to you — even more: from those to whom much is given, much will be expected.

Your staff are human beings — real people — not merely 'human resources'.

Jesus gave his life for his people; but you know all this: you don't need me to tell you. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

GLO Bookshop said...

Keith, a note to say 'thank you' for spending the time to contact the shops and listen to the concerns. It must have been painful at times, I guess, to hear the same issues being repeated again & again back to you, and to be aware that these concerns have been going on for some time.

I hope you understand that when we 'bloggers' spend time putting our concerns into this public arena, it isn't to gloat with delight at yet another STL problem. But it is to try & communicate directly to the people who need to know some of the issues we are (all) trying to deal with. Customer Services are excellent at trying to sort my specific problem now, today, with this delivery or that price. What can get frustrating for all concerned is that we keep repeating the same problem. Which costs us time & effort to resolve- and knowing that frustration & wasted time is being duplicated in many bookshops up & down the country.

Our latest example of 'Ground Hog Day' has been the arrival of two separate 'half boxes'- each proudly containing ONE item drowning in an ocean of polystyrene...... After a number of posts talking about how this was one problem that was being prioritised & resolved. As Phil Groom wisely commented on this blog, surely the answer to this problem is Staff Training? For a shop like ours, we are ordering (almost) daily. Why can't someone take the 'single line orders' sheets and marry up with our main orders as they arrive? We have to do the same instore when dealing with customer orders coming from multiple suppliers!

We also had a failure in the despatch email on Monday. Because we had no email to confirm whether our order was on the way, I then had to go through the process of phoning to check the order had been received, confirming if it was the correct order etc. It seems that the some of the despatch emails hadn't been sent. OK, it's only a five minute phone call, but it's just another unnecessary distraction- especially since the order actually arrived while I was on the phone! The despatch email turned up the following morning..... Again, this has happened to us on a number of occasions over recent months.

The obvious question is- if there is an (ongoing) issue with despatch emails going out, would it not be possible someone to review this aspect of the operation, pick up the problem, and arrange for a courtesy call/email to say 'We had a issue, but your order is on the way'?

I do appreciate it's all very well for me to sit typing away about problems. Not so easy to solve! I wish you all well as you continue to work on stabilising the situation.

mike said...

Hi Keith
My name is mike duncombe we met in 2000 at a mens breakfast in Esher in the Uk and you were the catalist for my conversion, have been attaemting to contact you as have been givenaproject by my church which I would like to discuss. Sorry to appear on the blog

Regards Mike