By Dorian Krimme, iGear Internet Marketing

Nowadays many companies report financial difficulties so that it has become increasingly difficult to gain and maintain a stable position in most of the industrial sectors. In addition, manufacturing-intensive markets appear to be mature, making it hard for newcomers to establish a profitable business. But there are two factors that signifcantly determine success:

  • product excellence, that is offering the highest product quality in the market; and
  • customer intimacy.

While the former in general is recognized as the basis for making business, the latter often still sits on the substitute’s bench waiting for its appearance. If anything, companies display some standard customer relationship activities. However this is only half the battle.

Customer intimacy

In case you wonder whether customer intimacy equals customer support or CRM – the answer is no!

We’re neither talking about a support hotline nor about management software or feedback systems.

Customer intimacy is about being actively involved in your clients production processes. Specifically when you’re selling semi-finished products such as glass fabrics and your customers need instructions on how to best implement them.

For instance in a recent interview Parabeam managing director Jurgen Koot explains why it was and still is essential for his company to engage in customer intimacy. It is not for no reason that the Dutch fiberglass manufacturer is nominated for the National Success Award 2013.

While 75% of product launches fail worldwide, Parabeam managed to successfully bring a new product to market and reach a point where business became profitable. The main reason for this remarkable achievement is the company‘s unique way of interacting with their clients. By actively advising prospects and customers, the threshold to invest and make use of their fiberglass composites is significantly lowered.

Furthermore helping your customers to find new solutions and show them how to implement your product facilitates trust and increases the chance for long-term cooperations.

According to Jurgen Koot this can particularly be achieved through the following key steps:

Step 1: Empathize with your customer

  • Identify and understand the problem/goal
  • Recognize the working environment

Step 2: Support customers in production processes

  • Find solutions that match the working environment
  • Support the client in applying the new solutions

Not surprisingly these processes are often accompanied by further costs. Once you’ve invested in a new project chances are high that you will stick to your previous commitment – a psychological phenomenon termed the sunk cost effect.

To keep track of your expenses and obviate irrational choices Koot suggests that you should constantly monitor costs, eventually estimating whether the project will deliver profits. In case a project turns out to be a bummer – step out of it!

The bottom line

To sum it up: don’t just stick to old-fashioned customer relationship management or customer support. Make it intimate, empathize with your clients and be part of their development and production processes. ♦

Parabeam, headquartered in Helmond, the Netherlands, produces 3D glass fibre fabrics for use in manufacturing composite sandwich structures.