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Plastic Perspectives
Stand Out From Your Competition! This is a recurring theme of most companies, having been mired in the longest recession in our industry’s history – just now beginning to emerge and hopefully resume a growth track.

  • Two of the most important elements are:
  • Building a Customer Care System
Create Powerful Messages to your Customer

Customer-Care Capability

Although every company has a unique way of interacting with its customers, effective customer-care systems have several elements in common:

  • Company leadership builds a customer care concept.
  • Employees are focused on creating customer satisfaction.
  • A core customer care concept drives activities within the company.
  • Processes and systems are in place to constantly measure and improve service levels.

The Customer-Care Concept

The customer-care concept forms the core of a process to ensure customer needs are met consistently and that the relationship with these customers is mutually rewarding and enduring. The customer-care concept seeks to ensure that the distribution firm is:

  • Attentive
  • Responsive
  • Effective
  • Enduring

Key tests for an effective customer-care concept:

  • Do we really know our customers?
  • Do they really know us?
  • Do they want to?
  • Is our service reliable and consistent?
  • Do we provide ‘extra bang for the buck’ or happy service surprises?
  • Do we fix problems quickly?
  • Are we always fair?
  • Do we keep our promises?
  • Do our customers know what we did or how much we care?

Create Powerful Messages

Traditionally, most wholesale distribution companies have focused their written messages on their line cards and sup-porting product literature, which describes products, brands, manufacturers or features. Salespeople – the frontline messengers – historically have focused on brand relationships or product franchises as the foundation of their firm’s differentiation. This is human nature: it’s easier to talk about tangible things like product features. But in a marketplace in which products are increasingly viewed as interchangeable commodities, product features may not provide differentiation. One customer told a salesperson we interviewed, “I don’t care as much about your products as you do. What I’m interested in is what you can do for me and my bottom line.”

In addition to communicating basic information on products, product application and services, companies demonstrated the ability to communicate consistent “value” messages to the marketplace about their key differentiating capabilities. These messages are purely customer-focused.

  • We understand your needs.
  • We’ve assembled relevant product and service offerings.
  • Here’s how we’ll support you going forward.

Have we developed clear, concise, consistent and relevant messages that differentiate us by directly tying our offerings to customer’s requirements?

  • Be sure your company is creating and sending a consistent and positive message that is valuable to its market and that it can back its promises with performance.
  • Make certain that customers know everything your company can do for them, not just the products you carry.
  • Ensure that your people understand the company’s value proposition and what it needs to communicate in the marketplace.
  • Determine the worst negative message about your company and how to counter or eliminate it.

Applying some of the above ideas and actions to any business in the plastics industry will assure resumption of the growth that has been slowed over the previous three years.

Happy Second Half of 2003!

For more information, click on the Author Biography link at the top of this page.

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