Former VP Customer Service
As the world economy continues to globalize, customers and suppliers in every industry and sector are increasingly challenged to find innovative ways of continually raising productivity, while reducing costs and improving margins at the same time.
As businesses aspire to cope with these challenges they quickly realize that relying on past conventional ways of working doesn’t provide the solutions they need and quite frankly hampers them from truly accomplishing their goals.
We are witnessing a shift, or more appropriately an evolution occurring in today’s business relationships between customers and suppliers. Each realizing they cannot continue to push innovation alone, and finding themselves having to rely more heavily on strategic relationships with each other to ensure long-term survival.
Customers demand that their suppliers be more active in helping them to achieve their business outcomes. They want suppliers to act as Trusted Business Partners™ and demonstrate commitment to helping them achieve their long term plans.
Suppliers need customers to be more open and honest with them. They are willing and eager to help, but they need customers to recognize and somehow compensate them for the value they provide.
Balancing these needs and creating these new relationships is rapidly becoming the most vital objective for customers and suppliers and requires a comprehensive change in behaviors for both sides. Ultimately to gain this balance, a culture of collaboration and willingness to establish win-win scenarios must mature between customers and suppliers that enable both to achieve their future business goals. Companies must appreciate that building Trusted Business Partner Relationships takes time and persistence. Most importantly it requires taking ownership to move towards this new culture.
Most suppliers know that customer relationships can be fragile and barring a catastrophic event, the fact is supplier-customer relationships are built or lost over a series of group and individual interactions that occur between a supplier and the customer over a period of time. Every interaction with the customer leaves them with a perception of the supplier. As these perceptions add up, opinions at the customer level are formed over the value of the supplier. As for the weighting factor in a customer’s eyes, make no mistake about it, negative perceptions far outweigh positive perceptions every time.
What most suppliers do is rely on the existing skills and experience of their front line personnel, they do not take the approach to design what they want, to deliver a methodology to their teams that can build the relationships they desire and set themselves apart from the competition.
In short, customers and suppliers alike need to understand and embrace what Total Customer Focus (TCF) really means. TCF requires a shift in mindset and an acute understanding of the need to adopt new behaviors and develop new skills. It also means being able to intimately understand the culture and business environment in which we are operating.
TCF has been uniquely designed to help companies to really embed new behaviors and skillsets within a company’s customer interfacing teams. TCF will set up the culture you need to develop long lasting Trusted Business Partner Relationships.
Changing with the times requires answers. To set your company apart from the competition you have to make the transition to a Total Customer Focused approach and not settle for simply reacting to customer issues and providing basic customer service.
The answer is Total Customer Focus – Transforming Relationships that Matter Most.