For ready mixed concrete companies, balancing the priorities of operating efficiently against delivering excellent customer service can be challenging. As companies focus on improving operational and dispatch efficiency, the customer experience can diminish. And in providing an excellent customer experience, efficiency is often sacrificed.
Since most producers operate in markets where customers have choices, producers should try to identify and operate in the “sweet spot” between efficiency and customer service. This is where service and efficiency are in balance – where the producer realizes the lowest possible delivery costs while the customer receives a level of service that meets or exceeds expectations.
What emphasis does your company place on efficiency vs. customer service?
Most business owners, executives and senior managers agree that providing excellent customer service and operational efficiency are foundations of a successful business. Executive leadership should establish a clear vision of how the company is expected to perform in delivering both customer service and operational efficiency, and then communicate this vision to every level of the organization.
All customer-facing team members such as salespeople, customer service representatives, and delivery professionals should work together to deliver a customer experience that represents the vision and goals of the company. Likewise, plant managers, maintenance crews, and customer service team members should be aligned with company objectives, always looking for ways to perform proactive maintenance on plants and vehicles, and maximize delivery efficiencies. Leadership’s behavior greatly impacts team members’ commitment to these processes. As the saying goes, “What interests my boss fascinates me.”
How do you measure how well you're doing?
As we discussed in our blog Optimizing the Use of KPIs, managing functional areas such as logistics and delivery, materials management, maintenance, safety and environmental issues is critical to the success of a concrete producer. These elements represent the largest part of the company’s cash outflows. Measuring operating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a daily, weekly and monthly basis allows producers to manage costs that directly impact the bottom line.
Knowing how best-in-class producers perform in each area provides a benchmark against which to measure efficiency. Tracking KPI data over time provides tangible feedback on continuous improvement efforts, as well as accountability for responsible team members.
Making and keeping customers happy can be a moving target, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Customers demand the basics: reliable delivery at competitive prices. They also value ease-of-doing-business elements such as proactive communication, responsiveness, and product expertise from customer service representatives. Other factors such as how frequently salespeople call on a customer, or how much personal attention is appropriate, depend on customer preferences and the strength of the relationship.
An excellent way to assess relationship performance is through a Customer Survey. A simple electronic questionnaire can provide instant feedback after the customer experience. Or, a more comprehensive Customer Survey such as those performed by The Roebuck Group can provide valuable insight into how your company is perceived in the marketplace compared to your competition.
Successful ready mix producers make operational efficiency and excellent customer service a part of their company culture. To learn more about how to maximize your profitability and strengthen customer relationships, contact the experts at The Roebuck Group.