Fundamental Behavior 8 – Make Customers a Priority
This is, in my opinion, one of our most important Fundamental Behaviors. Customers are the lifeline of our existence.
Being in sales for YKK for the past 48 years gives me an appreciation for this important aspect of my job. The best part of being able to sell our products to our customers is the interaction I get with them. This involves listening with patience, trying to understand their exact requirements and gaining insight into how our products need to perform for their specific application. I have found that at first customers do not see us as solution providers to help them make their products better or easier.
Today, I find that our customers’ priorities are changing as well. Many of them have set their requirements for the products to a higher standard of quality, especially in the areas of both product safety and being environmentally friendly.
This change means that making sure our customers get the right product from us the first time is even more important. To ensure that this happens, our sales team members need to understand what our customers’ most pressing needs are and attend to those first.
Sales is the first and most frequent point of contact with our customers. However, every single YKK team member is responsible for ensuring that each and every one of our customers comes first and is a priority no matter how much they purchase from us. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to, those taking calls/emails on the order desk that typically have daily contact with the customers; those behind the scenes, such as our purchasing agents who make sure we bring in product/material that we then sell/use to manufacture products for our customers; those who work in our factories producing quality products in order to meet the expected delivery date; those on our quality team making sure that our products are better than perfect; and even those in shipping who ensure everything gets packed up, labelled and sent out in a timely manner. There are many, many more roles on our team who help us deliver our products to our customers and this is truly why this is a team effort where we are all working toward a common goal of making our customers a priority!
Most importantly, when a customer reaches out to us with a question or problem, they expect a timely response. We must realize that with a little more objective study, we can further discover unmet needs and deliver better services and products in the future. Customers in our day and age are evolving and changing in this pandemic situation and YKK has had to work to change to give them the service that each and every one of them need.
When I first started selling at YKK, I had a potential customer who, no matter how many times I called or stopped in to visit, would not give me an appointment to see him. He did finally say I was persistent. After two years of calling, he said, “Come Saturday morning at 9:45 AM.” I found that strange, as nearly all my customers were closed on Saturdays. I showed up as requested and he took me out for a coffee. He said that if I was interested in getting his business, I should meet all his needs, even giving up my own time to see him. I was able to get his account, and after servicing his account for few months, he went out of his way to recommend YKK and introduce me to all his friends within the industry. I was able to open numerous other accounts because of that small action.
The best part about servicing the needs of customers is the fact that the YKK quality products we make helps my job become so much easier. Plus, I always explain that I have this enormous YKK network of people not only here in Canada, but throughout North America and the world with amazing abilities to help with any new developments or product issues.
By the way, some customers can be so much fun! Every sales rep has at least one!
Vice President of Sales