Customer Preferences

If you are a shop or facility manager that is looking to expand and build upon your existing core customers, then this column may interest you. I've spent more than one of these pages expressing my sincere belief that your customer base is changing.

Columns From: 9/1/1999 Modern Machine Shop, ,

If you are a shop or facility manager that is looking to expand and build upon your existing core customers, then this column may interest you.

I've spent more than one of these pages expressing my sincere belief that your customer base is changing. At least, the ways they find, research and communicate with you are changing. And I've tried to give you enough evidence to support utilizing your own Web site to get the most from those changes.

Well, here's some more.

There is a company that I've recently learned of right here in Cincinnati named Synchrony (www.synchronyinc.com). The intriguing part of its story is not just in the services it offers, but the climate that allowed it to invent and sustain itself.

Synchrony offers its clients an all-inclusive solution for tracking "customer interactions into one synchronized source." Translated, it loads all of a company's customer contacts, regardless of their source (phone, fax, Web site, e-mail), into one system that is said to improve customer service and fulfillment.

"With us, it was customer service first and technology second," says Synchrony's Rob Cottrell. He went on to tell me that the company realized that some folks have a hard time not losing some contacts through the "cyber-cracks," and that it got some very smart people to work on filling this need.

And they're doing quite nicely, I'm told.

But, as I said, that's not the whole story here.

There is a growing understanding that customers from all walks—technology, aerospace, automotive, the general populace—are choosing the ways that are most convenient to them to look for you. Sure, you're still attracting or communicating with some of your customers in traditional ways. But odds are you've encountered some that use e-mail a lot more than others or require use of Web-based tools to exchange RFQ's or other relevant data.

And that's the important thing to remember. Synchrony isn't here selling witch oil. And it couldn't have existed four years ago. It is around now because of a valid, identifiable business need. And the climate that caused it to exist is coming your way.

How ready is your shop or plant to grow or serve your own customer base once they demand alternative communications processes?

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