Back in the spring of 2020, when supply chain shortages first cropped up as a result of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, labs braced for the worst but hoped the disruptions would not be long lasting. Yet more than 18 months later, we continue to face major shortages. “There are still a lot of transport issues, especially when we are getting raw materials from overseas,” says Director of eCommerce Operations Laura Tlumack. “People aren’t hearing about that on the news. It’s not what’s being reported.”
Tlumack and her fellow product specialists are working on the front lines to get lab managers and scientists what they need as quickly as possible. But they’re not just customer service reps—they all have life science backgrounds including experience working in labs before joining Quartzy.
But in order for product specialists to effectively serve customers and meet their goal of responding to every inquiry within a three-hour timeframe, there are four key things to know about the team and how they work.
#1: The More Details, the Better
Quartzy product specialists specialize in tracking down alternative or replacement supplies when certain things are out of stock. But because so many items are on backorder, the team can be most helpful when they have as many details as possible. Rather than asking for something similar to an item that is unavailable, it’s best for the request to come through with as many specifications as possible so the team can source alternatives with minimal email back and forth. “The more detailed people can be when they are interacting with us, the better service we’ll be able to provide right off the bat,” Chloe Larson, Catalog Data and Technical Support Manager explains. In particular, product specialists appreciate when a distinction is made between necessary and flexible specifications.
#2: They Are Scientists Too
As life science professionals, the team at Quartzy understands that scientists want to avoid switching up their supplies at the risk of introducing new variables into their experiments. But we’re living in unprecedented times, so there does need to be a mindset shift. “In times like these, you might have to change brands, but we are here to answer questions on how we can help them make those changes,” says Tlumack.
Particularly when it comes to finding alternatives for certain chemicals, which can be expensive and have a long production time, Quartzy’s team will go through the specifications and often find something that works, is less expensive and will arrive more quickly.
#3: Ask Early and Often
It’s an all-too-common scenario: A ticket comes to the product specialist team from an extremely stressed researcher who has reached the end of their rope and is panicking because they need something to keep their experiment going. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “Instead of making assumptions or spending hours trying to find something in the shop, [reach out so that] we can help find something quicker,” says Tlumack. In the current climate, it’s too risky to wait too long for items to be restocked. “The minute you start to feel stressed about finding something, you should immediately come to us,” says Larson. “We’re here as a first line of defense.”
#4: They Are Tireless Problem Solvers
Sometimes working in the product specialist department at Quartzy is like being a detective on a mission. The team likes to go deep to help solve customer problems, even if it means looking outside the Quartzy Shop. One memorable example involves sourcing a food storage solution. A customer that was trying to seal samples reached out. Although Quartzy didn’t sell anything like it, the team set out to research what other scientists have done in that situation. They found a vacuum sealer conventionally used for food and recommended it to the customer.. “We get so deep into trying to figure stuff out that when we find the best option, whether we sell it or not, we will send it over,” says Tlumack.
The current supply chain shortage won’t go on forever, but in the meantime, scientists and lab managers do not need to go it alone when trying to find the best items for their lab. Quartzy’s team of product specialists are on hand to provide personalized, high-quality assistance, no matter how challenging the request.