Target: Remain above the NPS threshold of 35.
How we engage with our customers
We aim to develop long-term relationships with our customers so that their business, and ours, can succeed. Our cross-functional engagement model is spearheaded by our Key Account Management (KAM) program. KAM is designed to increase points of contact across the customer’s organization to establish valuable and lasting partnerships. We track our success by measuring customer loyalty and the extent to which our products are attractive to our customers. These engagements also enable us to continue developing timely new products to meet customer needs.
Measuring our customer loyalty
Introduced in FY2018, our customer satisfaction KPI is based on the well-established Net Promoter Score® (NPS®1), which asks our customers around the world to rank Birla Carbon’s performance against our peers.
NPS® is calculated based on how customers respond to a single question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Birla Carbon to a business partner or a friend?”
Through the NPS® process, our Sales representatives contact a minimum of five customers per month and the respondents are divided into three groups:
- Promoters (score of 9 or 10) – considered loyal and continued purchasers;
- Passives (score of 7 or 8) – or customers who are satisfied yet vulnerable to competitive offerings; and
- Detractors (score of 0 to 6) – whose unhappiness can damage our reputation and impede growth.
A company’s NPS® is calculated by subtracting the percentage score of detractors from the percentage score of promoters. In FY2018, our global NPS® was 55 on a scale of -100 to +100 (FY2017: 56) and there was good uniformity across regions. This score is considered excellent for a business-to-business company such as ourselves. Our objective is to sustain our score above 35. Although this is still considered to be a “good” score, a drop to this level would be an alert signal for us; our historical results suggest that this threshold would correspond to a 10-point drop from our quarterly low.
Turning feedback into action
We use the customer feedback we receive to drive continuous improvements. For customers providing us with high NPS® scores, we find opportunities to improve or maintain our score. For customers that give us a low rating, we respond through the appropriate department (Regional or Global Sales, Marketing or Regional Presidents).
In FY2018, we received 34 detractor ratings, 20 of which included specific comments relating to the following issues:
- Price (8)
- Supply (6)
- Lack of direct supply (1)
- Lack of regular communication (1)
- Logistics (1)
- Order processing (1)
- Poor service (1)
- Quality (1)
Our customers want to see that we respond swiftly to their feedback through robust processes and procedures. If a product-related issue is brought to our attention, scientists from our technology centers assess the problem before issuing a detailed report. All customer dissatisfaction, whether regarding products, sales or the supply chain, is reviewed thoroughly before responding to the customer.
Sharing sustainability strategies
Transparency is key to building joint strategic sustainability approaches with our customers and other stakeholders. Our customers increasingly look to us to supply data on our own sustainability performance to aid transparency in their supply chains.
We invite our customers to visit our plants and offices to carry out their own audits and process reviews. Our customers highly value a secure supply, which we meet through our Business Continuity strategy and Enterprise Risk Management approach.
Life Cycle Assessment is a growing concern among our stakeholders as they work to assess and improve the sustainability of their own products. We engaged with customers and their sustainability teams to share our carbon black Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. They validated our methodology and appreciated being able to use our data to support their own product LCAs. When designing new products, we meet with partners to better understand their expectations and consider the sustainability attributes of our carbon black within their products.
Enhancing the customer journey in China
Customer Centricity ensures we make the most of our potential by understanding the needs of our customers and delivering an exceptional customer experience. China is a market with significant growth potential and with diverse customers across varied industries. In March 2018, members of the South East and Far East Asia (SEFE) leadership team came together with 20 regional, cross-functional representatives working across sales and marketing, finance, HR, quality, customer service, operations, warehouse, supply chain, IT team and regional marketing teams.
Their collective aim was to map the customer journey in China, from order to receipt of goods. Teams spent the day mapping the journey of tire customers who have the strongest levels of engagement with Birla Carbon in China. Once the journey was mapped, each team focused on a specific stage of the journey to identify and explore potential positive and negative “moments of truth” for the customer. They then presented solutions and areas of improvement resulting in a pool of initiatives and action areas which will be undertaken on a prioritized basis as we work to build the Birla Carbon brand in China.
1 The NPS® model, developed by and registered to Fred Reicheld, Bain & Company and Satmetrix, measures customer loyalty by asking for direct feedback.