Partnering for Value
The Pressure to deliver in today’s uncertain times is immense. Shifting markets, labor challenges, wild revenue swings, eroding margins, changes in technology, trade scuffles, and pandemics are all harbingers of the seismic changes we must prepare to face in the coming years. How we leverage our existing customer relationships to create value will determine the level of overall success in our business. Working with customers to find areas of strength and weakness through partnership, allows for prescribed actions that create great value in the customer relationship.
Knowing the Customer’s business
In a dynamic environment, strategies must respond rapidly to changes that customers consider important. I always strive to understand:
The customer’s marketplace – tech platforms, tools, channel access, B2B/B2C, direct marketplaces, etc…all need to be considered to allow for maximum effect within their selling space
Their customer-base – the type of buyers and transactions that are needed, along with the type of buyers that are wanted or not wanted must be understood and a good fit for my services
Their product and service – in logistics and supply chain – can we provide added value to their service by better delivery, cutting costs, etc…?
Their market strategies and any tactics they employ – how do they apply those to establish trends and opportunities in their industry.
What are their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)? How does my organization positively/negatively affect them?
Do they have operational or business issues?
The Competition – external and internal competition can upend discussions or actions
I need to know the Customer’s Perception
Just as important as understanding the customer’s business, is the perception from the customer about my business. To provide value, I must know things like how they see our industry (3PL) generally, what their purchasing practices are, and how we are doing competitively speaking. The big things to know are:
Understanding their business situation – how closely aligned are their challenges to my solutions?
Product fit to the customer needs – as a supplier, are my services marginal or critical to their success?
The ‘enjoyability’ factor – does the customer enjoy working with me or see me (and my organization) as a headache?
Service and Support – does the customer perceive my support as barely adequate, above average or exceptional?
VALUE – does the customer think that the value I bring them is minimal, acceptable, or excellent?
Action is needed for True Partnership
Having an open dialogue and understanding the level of commitment needed for a successful partnership is paramount. Delivering actions on that dialogue is where value is realized. By discussing challenges, setting goals, and expressing expectations, a list of action items is created. Things I always consider when collaborating on actions with my customers are:
An action must be directly related to issues explored and flushed out during discussion of the customer situation. I am careful to consider the direct effects of actions on Customer Perception and Their Business Situation.
Actions should be shared and worked on in collaboration with the customer – that’s when True Value comes in
An action should lead to more positive actions – either toward growth, or efficiencies, or positive change with internal/external relationships
Actions can be measured quantifiably – via revenue, operational efficiencies etc….
A sense of the business, understanding of customer perception and, the list of recognized and shared actions create VALUE.
I know that when customers believe we have mutual interests at heart, they fight to continue doing business with me. By taking time to understand their business challenges and objectives, I contribute value as an insider and potential influence for their organization. Taking the time to understand their perceptions of me and my capabilities, creates a platform for dialogue and change. Following up with actions that are measurable and move the relationship to another level, creates a partnership and true value.
At Complemar our goal is to create value through partnership. I make it a priority to drive value in all of my customer relationships and ensure client satisfaction and overall happiness with our services.