Okay, so we may be generalising a little here not every architect and designer hates every office furniture company. But, there has been comments made in the industry that suggests that office furniture suppliers could probably do with listening to. And acting on as well….
Firstly the biggest complaint is that there seems to be no mutual understanding or appreciation of how the other works. Too many suppliers appear to feel that if they dress like an architect, that they will somehow relate to them better. As if by going all designery they will somehow be more appealing. As if architects are so gullible they will fall for an image alone. Suppliers coining phrases like The A&D community doesnt endear either it just annoys. Its frankly regarded by many as patronising and in some way belittles the work that designers do. They dont refer to themselves in such a way so why should a supplier?
And suppliers need to come out of the 1980s and realise that it may be their top priority to see the designer but its unlikely to be the top of the designers list. Stop trying to get a rep in the door and just be ready with the right information when its needed! Sending out over the top marketing literature which often ends up in the bin is wasteful and more than a bit unnecessary.
The message seems clear the role of interior designers and architectural practices is changing. With the onslaught in recent years of home design TV programmes such as BBC Changing Rooms people have finally woken to the importance of good looking, considered interiors. This has now become regarded as essential, and if suppliers can get their act together to work with designers and specifiers effectively then everyones a winner.
So what does all this mean for the humble furniture supplier trying to make a living from selling desks, receptions, seating and boardrooms? Its not that complicated really and common sense when you think about it. And it all comes down to service. And service comes down to listening to your customers needs. Designers want a supplier that actually takes a sustained interest in a project. That means looking after the basics like making sure wood samples and fabric swatches arrive on time. Thereby saving anyone having to make a chase up telephone call. If and when orders are placed with a supplier, the individual sales person must take a certain level of ownership and responsibility for seeing it through to the end. That means taking seriously the delivery date promised, and other assurances that were given to get the order in the first place.
Many office furniture suppliers predominantly manufacturers still feel it is acceptable to be passively rude. As if they are irreplaceable as if they are the only suppliers available. This aloof attitude is often accompanied by poor general service, lack of focus, and snobbiness that we all hoped had disappeared years ago. Instead this inverted snobbery needs to be replaced with a true desire to be the best in the industry. Making consistent fabulous service and relationship building the order of the day. Only then will the architects, designers, and specifiers feel that they are valued and understood. After all if everyone in a chain puts the maximum effort into their own role then only the best can come out at the other end. And once one has had the best why settle (or look) for anything else?