A customer (also known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is the recipient of goods or services from a seller or supplier.
Customer-related services support the core of any business. However that does not prevent them from being outsourced. Indeed for international clients that seek to operate from the UK, this can provide a relatively easy option to show a UK face.
Our services do not operate in isolation from clients. Essentially we provide a UK dimension to a client’s team operating from another location. In that sense many of our support services become part of a joint operation.
For example sales invoicing will be based on pricing details supplied to us by a client, and used to produce an invoice issued from the UK, for subsequent payment to the UK. This arrangement almost considers the client’s team to be the off-shore “back office” for our services.
Customer-Related Services include:
- Sales order processing
- Credit management
- Consumer assurance
- Dispute settlement
- Intermediate Customer development
- Ultimate Customer evaluation
- Product testing & approval
Customers & Consumers
An intermediate customer, or trade customer, purchases goods for re-sale. An ultimate customer does not re-sell the things bought but either passes them to the consumer or actually is the consumer.
A customer may or may not also be a consumer. A customer purchases goods; a consumer uses them. An ultimate customer may be a consumer as well, but just as equally may have purchased items for someone else to consume. An intermediate customer is not a consumer at all.
Sales Order Processing
We would normally expect orders for all customer types to be negotiated directly with our client. Orders from an intermediate customer might be made within a contractual relationship, for example as a distributor or agent. Those cases might see us in a co-ordinating role.
A sales order is only a success if payment is secured from a satisfied customer. However even clients with substantial business experience can fail to fully understand credit risk and the steps that can be taken to minimise it. Limiting sales to avoid risk, for example by use of pro-forma or cash basis can be equally damaging to business.
Our experience of assistance to clients includes use of credit insurance, guarantees and stand-by facilities to reduce risk. In addition we understand that measures to ensure consumer confidence can also assist. We can also provide an extended range of trade finance options.
All customer types receive invoices indicating the types, quantities, agreed prices and payment terms for products or services the seller has provided to the buyer. However in the context of our support to international clients the invoicing process is a joint operation with a client. For example sales invoicing will be based on pricing details supplied to us by a client, and used to produce an invoice issued from the UK, for subsequent payment to the UK. Invoicing from the UK as a location within the EU adds the issue of VAT to arrangements.
Goods supplied from the UK to other EU member states, and goods supplied to destinations outside of the EU, are subject to arrangements based on our registrations for tax purposes and as an economic operator.
Our experience is that customers take comfort from paying an invoice to a UK company and to a UK bank. Our systems operate with several banks and these can be applied to provide direct access to clients. Secure enquiries on customer accounts for receipts for example can be made at any time from anywhere.
Sometimes clients fail to appreciate that sellers need to provide assurance to customers not just about price and delivery but also about performance. This assurance on “fit for purpose” is a common right to consumers in many countries. We operate systems and practices to provide this.
For many customers, the lasting image of a supplier starts when something goes wrong. How disputes are dealt with can become a positive factor for further business. In addition many international clients do not appreciate the extent which consumer laws impact on UK companies.
Intermediate Customer Development
An intermediate customer, as a dealer or distributor, is the route to an additional ultimate customer. In that case customer support becomes sales development.
Product testing & approval
Customers expect that products and services provided from our clients conform to generally accepted standards and in some cases to specific test requirements . The UK is home to many internationally recognised test centres and we have experience of organising product approvals and certifications.