Date: 4 October 2019
What if the computer said ‘yes’ not ‘no?’ What if IT was an ‘enabler’ in your business, not an obstacle, allowing you to measure your performance at each and every customer touch-point? How better could your business be?
IT function isn’t something always embraced by business, and it’s even more unusual for it to sit at the heart of not only production but sales, marketing and customer experience.
Roberto Canassa, IT and Customer Experience director at Emplas, said: “I’m not aware of anyone doing quite what we’re doing, in this sector or any other. Customer experience is usually linked to the sales and marketing function, not IT.
“But through IT we have the ability to measure our performance and each and every customer touch-point and through that measurement to be better at what we do. IT at Emplas is an ‘enabler’, it’s here to make us better at what we do.
“Systems and processes have to be focussed. They have to improve things operationally because if you improve things operationally and at the right touch points, the touch points with the customer, then you deliver the right customer experience.”
Under Canassa’s tenure, Emplas has committed to six-figure spends on cloud technologies and networking infrastructures. Customers can place orders 24/7 through EVA, its customer portal, with products barcoded and scanned as it makes its way through the manufacturing process, giving the fabricator full visibility of the progress of orders in real-time.
This includes ‘staging gates’, the critical points each product must pass through to ensure it’s delivered on time to the customer. The idea being that if a stage-gate is missed, it’s flagged and corrective action is taken before the issue impacts the customer.
Barcoding even extends visibility to loading on and off the trucks, giving Emplas 360-degrees visibility on products from point of order to offloading to the customer.
A specially developed stock module allows Emplas to track its stock levels in real-time, reordering the product as required as it’s used.
But while no less impressive, these are the operational and production benefits of IT. Can IT really deliver an exceptional shift in customer experience?
Canassa argues: “IT has the potential to change organisational process but also deliver a commensurate shift in company culture. Combined, this has the potential to transform customer experience.”
Canassa entered the window industry in 1998 when he joined Cambrian Windows, heading up their operation before its acquisition by the Masco Group. A divisional director of Cambrian until the 2011 merger, he later joined Masco’s board as its Head of IT before joining Emplas.
“What you’re seeing in a lot of blue-chip businesses is that the role of chief information officer (CIO) [IT Head] is being developed so that it’s not just about process and operations but the business as a whole. The ‘IT guy’ isn’t the ‘IT guy’ anymore. They’re a fully integrated part of the business with a responsibility for driving better process and better customer experience.
“Ryan Johnson was very keen to modernise the way Emplas was when he took over. What we’re seeing now and what we’re able to offer our customers is the product of that drive to innovate, to measure and be better at what we do.”
The focus on measurement extends to all Emplas customer ‘touch-points’. This includes everything from how long it takes the customer service team to answer the phone, something with Canassa proudly states that is now answered within five rings in 98% of calls, to the receipt of online orders, which in 98% of placements are turned around in less than 24-hours.
This focus on measurement and evaluation contributing to the findings of its customer satisfaction survey. Completed earlier this year, it found that more than two-thirds of Emplas customers give a 9 or 10 out of 10 for support and service.
This was based on the Net Promoter Score metric, which is widely adopted by Fortune 1000 Companies and calculated on a single question: “How likely are you to recommend a company, its products and services to someone else?”
Scored out of 10, those who respond with 9-10 are classed as ‘promoters’, those returning a 7 0r 8 are ‘passives’, while those giving scores of 0-6 are classed as ‘defractors’. The final metric (NPS) is based on a calculation of the number of promoters, less the number of detractors.
With 2/3s of respondents falling into the promoter camp, this gave Emplas a Net Promoter Score of 58.5%.
Roberto said: “The result was very positive. Nonetheless, our focus now is on picking up on the very important feedback we received from those customers who didn’t give us a ranking of eight or above to understand why and identify areas for improvement.
“That is what our programme is about- continuous improvement. The constant review of our quality, our operational systems and customer experience. To challenge and ask ourselves can we be better at something, and if the answer is yes, to implement the change to deliver improved performance.”
This includes the mobilisation of Emplas’ inhouse IT expertise to make doing business with the fabricator easier by introducing new flexibility within its own systems to speak and extract information from those of its customers, so that data only needs to be inputted once.
“This industry has a problem: There are production platforms but they don’t talk to the customers’ systems. People don’t want to have to fill out form twice.
“We’ve been working to develop our own software tool which allows us to extract data from whatever platform our customers used to manage their own order process.
“We have smaller customers where we support the entire process and develop systems with them which automatically talk to our own. But we get that our larger customers have their own tools.
“The module that we’ve developed allows us to tap into those systems and extract the data we need to place their order. It automatically translates their data to a format that works within our systems, it’s a ‘universal language’ for data.”
Scheduled to launch later this year, Canassa argues it illustrates the direct impact IT innovation can have on customer experience.
He said: “Measurement gives us focus. Focus allows us to be better at what we do and deliver better customer experience. IT is a business-critical enable, adding value to every aspect of operation, but most importantly, where it impacts on the customer.”
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