Customers’ interests: a joint responsibility

Published on by Component manufacturing. The reading time is approximately 6 minutes.

A year ago, Elsbeth de Jong (55) started as a Customer Service Officer at NTS Hermus in Venray. In this year a new working method was implemented and a start was made in changing the company’s culture. All of this contributes to making customer contact more important than the customer’s contract. Elsbeth’s main goals are: ensuring that everyone within NTS knows what is going on at the customers, pay attention to them and respond quickly. Shaping this type of engagement is done during daily internal sessions and extra activities that Elsbeth organizes, such as an online demonstration of a customer's machine for production. "I get energy out of paying attention to others."

Listen to the customer even better

“A year ago, I started at NTS Hermus, at the same moment as Dave van 't Hull, who is responsible for setting up optimal business processes in his role as Logistics Engineer. What is particularly special about our role is that belong to the Sales department but have impact on the entire organization. What we have done in the past year is listening to the customer even better. In the past, we mainly produced what was stated in the contract and therefore we didn’t have the opportunity to find out what was really going on at the customer.”

Customer contract prevailed over contact

“As a result, we actually fell a bit short in our customer focus. The customer did not feel he was being listened to. The contact with the customer became secondary to the contract. That is why we introduced a new way of working: a lean methodology called Heijunka. In addition, part of our new way of working is that our availability has improved and that we continuously have personal contact with our customers. In this, I play an important role. Finally, an internal meeting structure has been implemented that ensures that everyone in the organization is in touch with the customer and the product and the daily goals that must be achieved.”

Customer satisfaction is a joint responsibility

“Previously, customer contact was mainly the responsibility of the account managers. They were also the ones who represented the client's interests the most. Now it is more than ever a joint responsibility of all NTS employees. That is quite a change in the company’s culture. It requires Sales and Operations working even closer together. Our production employees are informed better of what is going on at the customer. In addition, they have easier access to information about the end product. Knowing what you are doing is important and to this we add the ‘Why?’ and for ‘Whom?’ ”

Much more engagement

“Thanks to our new way of working and the related meeting structure, everyone knows what is going on much better. This results in much more engagement with our customers. Of course, the agreement we made concerning delivery time with our customers is sacred. We help the entire team to make consequences and concept and risks transparent in order to achieve this goal together. We give them insight into the consequences of not delivering in time. This leads to awareness and helps increasing involvement and achieving the set goals.”

Short daily sessions for creating insight and adjusting the course

“Currently there are several daily sessions during which Dave and I both are present. These are all very short sessions that give us up-to-date insight into what is going on. We start the day with the Sunrise, a short session during which someone from planning, purchasing, shipping and quality service is present. Then we have a Sales and Operations consultation and finally a sales order committee. All of these meetings are aimed at ensuring that Sales, Finance and Operations are in balance.”

Online demonstration StyleShoots

“Another thing that I organized to increase the understanding of production workers is an online demonstration of a machine on which they work. It was a StyleShoots machine that is used to photograph clothes for webshops, including Zalando. You can then view those photos in 3D in the webshop. An employee of StyleShoots explained how things work at the company to our employees in production in a live online demonstration.”

Copyright photography: Styleshoots. On the picture, you can see the product 'Horizontal' which is used for flatlay packshot photography for a.o. Zalando.

Very positive reactions

“I received a lot of positive responses, both from our own employees as from the customer. I have spoken to people in logistics who said, "I now feel that I know the customer and that it is more than just a code in the system."

Be aware of what your actions mean

“I try to raise awareness of the fact that everyone's behaviour means something for both our colleagues as our customers. I therefore often compare our work with events that colleagues recognize from their private lives. When you take your new iPhone out of a box, for example, you want it to look perfect. The same goes for the metal plates of a machine that we produce for our customers. At an SME everything can be felt directly, you immediately notice the consequences of your actions. It is actually comparable to your own household."

Moving forward together through openness

“Our new way of working and our new meeting structure ensure that we all work more consciously. We also talk about possible improvements in a more direct way. It is not about judging each other but about helping each other. That is what the so-called "Sunrise" is for. It is about speaking with each other and providing openness in the way you work. That might feel a bit like exposing yourself but you also offer others means to help you and to achieve better results together.”

Offer added value to customers

“Customer-oriented thinking is, as I said before, a real transition for our organization. But you notice that it works and that it offers added value to our customers. Offering added value, is something that NTS is able to do really well. We are very good at making high quality products here. We employ real specialists who know the technology so well that they can proactively advise our customers about their products and how they can be manufactured best.”

Get energy out of paying attention to others

“I personally get a lot of energy out of the process we are currently working on. I like to pay attention to others and make sure that people can achieve progress. I like creating something. Seeing results that are of benefit to others. I love solving things, each situation is different and I like to overcome the elephants in the room. At a company like NTS you feel extra engagement. And that is really what it's all about.”

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