Don't Confuse Your Customers

Job shops and manufacturing facilities of all types and sizes will find themselves applying maturing Internet- and Web-based technologies to improve many areas of their businesses. Shop management solutions for supply chain or enterprise management will allow you to provide—or will soon allow you to provide—your existing customers with real-time account information and empowerment to participate more efficiently in their relationships with you. As you begin to explore these types of options, or to nourish existing applications, it’s important to consider the stresses that participation in such systems may place upon your partners. For example, consider passwords.

Job shops and manufacturing facilities of all types and sizes will find themselves applying maturing Internet- and Web-based technologies to improve many areas of their businesses.

Shop management solutions for supply chain or enterprise management will allow you to provide—or will soon allow you to provide—your existing customers with real-time account information and empowerment to participate more efficiently in their relationships with you.

As you begin to explore these types of options, or to nourish existing applications, it’s important to consider the stresses that participation in such systems may place upon your partners.

For example, consider passwords. To you, participation within your system offers obvious value to your customers. But to individuals, accessing your system may also mean adding yet another password to an ever-increasing, overwhelming list of passwords they must remember—those for banks, e-mail accounts, work networks, other partners’ systems, their clients’ systems and others.

To help minimize the password demands on these folks, consider programming your system to accept customers’ invoice numbers, or maybe their e-mail addresses, as their passwords to account information. Another option may be to allow all customers to select their own user names and password combinations. (You might be surprised at how many systems still DON’T allow this.)

However you deal with these types of issues, the key is to anticipate the unexpected impacts that using an online system might put on a customer or prospect, and reduce them as early as possible in the development stages of that system.

Your customers will appreciate it.