Saying yes to customers more often

Saying yes to customers more often

Across the years it’s been fascinating defining and building different processes in what we have come to call 1 to 1 manufacture – the art of creating 1 unique product for 1 unique customer.

As production volumes climbed through 5 into 6 and then 7 numbers, we found that there was a perhaps inevitable conflict between standardisation and customer focus. How did you accommodate the frailty of the customer with the need to control costs through strict manufacturing practices and procedures?

Customers would make spelling mistakes, duplicate images, pick the wrong cover, misunderstand bleed, put their text through the gutter or forget they were leaving on holidays the day after they placed their order.

So how do you respond to customers being… well customers? Is the objective of your business to drill out every erg of variability – to embrace 6 sigma in all its purity or is it to be customer centric, to cherish the relationship with the customer and aspire to an intimate relationship?

We’ve taken the view that Customer Service should have direct manufacturing control, an ability to reach into the manufacturing process deep into the manufacturing cycle and enable change to the order but in a way that does not stress the manufacturing processes of the business.

Our philosophy is that it’s a mark of the maturity of a business, as to how often you can say ‘yes’ to a customer when the inevitable curve ball is thrown.

The best practice business is capable of accommodating the customer’s requirement and elegantly managing the cost position that flows from the flex in service that is delivered. The customer is not forced to fit to business processes, instead processes flex to fit the behaviour of the customer.

The end result is higher levels of satisfaction, a higher repeat order rate and great word of mouth marketing… and that means a better bottom line.

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.



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