Industry Week: Know your customers, industry 4.0 edition

 

This article was originally published in Industry Week

By mining their internal data on pump repairs, Service Pump is now able to predict when a customer’s pump is likely to fail and how much the customer is likely to spend operating a pump in their unique environment. They can also provide customized preventative maintenance plans and schedules to extend the lifetime of their customers’ products.

 

Know your customers, industry 4.0 edition

By Andrew Rieser of Mountain Point

Not so long ago, manufacturing was singularly about making things. Manufacturing companies would develop and create a product, hand it off to a series of distributors or partners, and then collect their cut of the profits. No more.

The Harvard Business Review published a pivotal article in 2010 called “Rethinking Marketing,” in which the authors outlined what used to be standard practice: make a product, find a market for it, and find a way to sell to that market. But, as the article pointed out, this no longer works. Thanks to the “Amazon Effect,” customers expect to interact with companies and shape the products they use.

Though the HBR article was published almost a decade ago, it seems manufacturers are still struggling to catch up to consumer needs and expectations. To ensure long-term success, they must move beyond distribution channels and engage directly with their products’ end users.

Putting customers first might sound obvious, but in many ways it represents a monumental shift in how most companies do business. Too often, manufacturers who invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software use it merely as a sales tool for activity tracking rather than what they are built to be: a 360-degree viewpoint of your customers’ experience to help you understand and interact with them better, and make more successful products in the process.

Manufacturers should be using their CRM systems to deliver the four core elements of customer experience: immediacy, personalization, consistency, and anticipation.

Let’s break these down.

Immediacy

Manufacturers have seen first-hand the impact technology can yield on the shop floor. Yet, many still use an old-school approach to customer service, with a handful of staff members answering phone calls on a landline.

But online communities, self-service portals, text messaging systems, social media platforms and chat bots—all enhanced with AI–are now fundamental tools.

Your CRM system should serve as the centralized hub unifying these channels and allowing you to respond quickly–and consistently–regardless of how your customer chooses to communicate.

Your CRM database can also offer you key insight, allowing you to elevate problems to proactively address emerging issues. Seeing a sudden uptick in service calls on a particular product? If these issues are logged properly in your database, you can identify the problem and streamline your response. You might also choose to automatically flag certain issues or problems with key accounts for a quick response by a manager. This sort of prioritizing allows your leadership team to prioritize their work and move quickly to ensure the satisfaction of top clients.

Personalization

In addition to expecting near immediate responses, customers still want manufacturers to deliver the personalized service one might expect from the old mom-and-pop shops of days gone by. Did I mention customers’ standards are high?

Fortunately, automation and artificial intelligence offer companies the ability to virtually clone their customer service teams and deliver highly personalized service quickly and at scale.

But no one likes talking to a robot or feeling like they’re just one of thousands to receive the same message. So employing these tools successfully takes a thoughtful and strategic approach.

When implementing any technology, I always recommend starting with your people, then examining your processes. Automated and AI tools should be carefully crafted and authentic extensions of your company culture and brand.

In other words, think about the characteristics and practices of your most successful customer service agent. Often,  it’s the little touches like remembering a customer’s buying history or the problems they’ve recently worked to solve.

Or maybe even something as simple as sending a note of congratulations when they achieve a major business milestone.

Once you’ve identified those key touchpoints, you can map strategies for replicating that level of personalization by building out your CRM database and automating considerate, authentic communication.

Consistency

Most manufacturers started out providing the sort of personalization and expediency outlined above, but were unable to keep up as their businesses grew.

In attempting to meet the unique needs of their customers, many manufacturers have accommodated highly personalized requests and customized their pricing, procedures or processes to meet the needs of specific customers. Easy enough to do when your customer base is small, but over time this lack of consistency becomes a nightmare.

Fortunately, we now have the ability to harness data to gain clear insights into our processes and outcomes and begin sifting through the mess we’ve created (I’ve been there!) as we’ve worked to grow our businesses.

Start with taking a look at who your customers are and sorting them into tiers. I’ve found the 80/20 rule to be extremely helpful. In most cases, 80% of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Find the 20% that is offering you the most value and identify them as “key accounts” or “top customers.” These people deserve your constant attention, individualized service, and some flexibility in the way they do business with you.

The remaining 80% of your customer base is, of course, important, but it doesn’t make sense to continue offering them the level of personalization and customization of your top customers.

Revisit your processes and agreements in working with this tier of customers, and find ways to streamline, standardize, and automate your interactions with them. Putting in place consistent pricing structures, service level agreements, and communications processes with these customers will help you more effectively and efficiently serve them while freeing up time for platinum level support for your top accounts.

 Anticipation

Think back to the “Amazon Effect” I mentioned earlier. Amazon does a great job of predicting its customers’ needs based on their past order history. Chances are, if you’ve ordered standard household items–let’s say, paper towels—from Amazon in the past, you’ll start seeing notifications about reordering right around the time you’re about to run out.

Other retailers have taken this a step further. One British grocery chain, for example, sends coupons for beer to male customers who purchase diapers—because they know these customers aren’t able to go to the pub as often with an infant at home!

This level of anticipation and proactive service doesn’t have to be limited to the B2C realm. Take, for example, Service Pump & Supply, an industrial provider of water transfer and management systems. By mining their internal data on pump repairs, Service Pump is now able to predict when a customer’s pump is likely to fail and how much the customer is likely to spend operating a pump in their unique environment. They can also provide customized preventative maintenance plans and schedules to extend the lifetime of their customers’ products.

But service quality like this is only as good as the data you maintain. New roles and responsibilities are necessary to tackle a master data management strategy, building governance, and mining your data for meaningful insights. A strong business analyst or data scientist will be a rising role in the manufacturing space.

All of this adds up to an exciting new world for manufacturers. For the first time in our history, we have the ability to deliver deeply personalized services and products at an enterprise level.  Now is not the time to be intimidated by change — let’s embrace this opportunity to provide better, faster service at scale.

Andrew Rieser is president and co-founder of Mountain Point, a digital transformation consulting firm specializing in the manufacturing sector. He has nearly two decades of experience in designing and implementing digital business processes.

Freeze warning: 6 tips for keeping pumps and pipes safe

Brutal cold weather can be almost as hard on your pumps and pipes as it is on you! Check out these six tips to keep your water flowing and protect your equipment when temperatures fall below freezing:

1. Drain lines and casings

Drain residual water as much as possible — especially from pump casings that have been shut down or are in unheated storage areas. When possible, open check valves to drain (back to the source) water lines that are buried more shallowly than the usual frost line depth.

2. Check the antifreeze in pumps

Check radiator antifreeze in engine-driven pumps.

3. Turn up the heat

Adjust thermostat settings to increase temperatures in booster stations or other pumping stations.

4. Insulate

Install heat tape and insulate pipes that are next to exterior walls or in areas exposed to wind.

5. Monitor ponds

Remember that “float ball” level switches may become inoperable if ponds or sumps freeze over.

6. Call us!

Remember, we offer 24/7 support if anything goes wrong. Give us a call at 1-800-480-7867 if you have questions or need assistance.

Exponent Telegram: Service Pump uses technology to transform its business

HUNTINGTON — When you go online and order from Amazon, you get quick delivery of the product you want.

But Amazon does more than that. It uses your order history to offer other items you might like or need. Sometimes it even suggests products that might work better than the one you bought last time. You can even set up auto delivery of consumable items to be shipped to you just as you need them — before you run out.

Now, Service Pump & Supply is using the same technology to offer better, faster and lower-cost service to its customers.

 

“I don’t feel like we’re doing anything that’s exotic,” said Patrick Farrell, the company’s president. “We’re just doing things that are now commonplace in e-commerce, but haven’t been done before in the industries where we operate.”

Founded in 1980, Service Pump is a Huntington-based industrial products company that works in the world of oil and gas, mining, industrial and municipal water management. It operates five branches in four states, selling pumps, motors and other supplies.

If there’s a water project going on somewhere in the region, there’s a good chance Service Pump has a piece of it, said Farrell.

Today, Service Pump’s computerized system tracks customers’ orders and stores away information collected when it services or fixes that equipment. Then the company uses that data to offer customers insight into how to streamline their supply chain — and save money. Read the full story »

InformationWeek: Pumping up the SPS Customer Experience with Kenandy

SPS customer experiences have radically changed. SPS was serving one customer in particular recently that had hired SPS to conduct 100 pump repair calls to a variety of production sites. Because SPS now has all of the customer data in one accessible place (which can be viewed via a mobile device), SPS employees were able to provide the customer with details about why the repairs kept happening, which crews (of the customer) were on site when equipment kept breaking, the type of equipment that was causing the problem, etc. This level of insight and detail had not been experienced before by their customer and the customer was able to make changes to their business based on the data.

Published in InformationWeek

by Ben Kepes

The Amazon experience isn’t just for consumer-facing applications. Imagine what it can do for a traditional company.

It’s always nice to hear from an end-user of technology products that I’ve been writing about for years. While it is squarely in the job description of a vendor’s marketing executive to articulate just how perfect their solution is pumping up the customer experience with SPS and Kenandy every possible use case, actual customers tend to be more circumspect and to only wax poetic about the solutions that actually deliver benefits to them. And so, I’m always interested in hearing from these end users and exploring how their particular solution-set meets there needs.

And so it is with Service Pump & Supply, a West Virginia-based company that sells motors, pumps, and accessories to a sector that, let’s face it, is often viewed as an old-school industry — oil and gas, coal and mining companies. While this is one business that many would categorize as “boring,” that doesn’t mean in any way that it’s an unimportant one. Indeed, SPS got a call a few days after Hurricane Irma to ship a bunch of pumps down to Florida to help with cleanup, a critical part of the chain of relief.

Anyway, despite being a traditional business, SPS is well aware that the times are changing and had a desire to offer its customers a new type of experience, one which they might be used to with their consumer experiences, but not one they traditionally think of coming from their more conventional suppliers.

The CEO of SPS, Patrick Farrell, recognized this subtle demand for “Amazon-like” experiences and decided to jump on that demand to gain a competitive advantage. He could see the writing on the wall — his customers wanted simple processes, instant help, user-friendly technology, access to historical data for purchasing decisions, low prices, and instant or rapid delivery of products/equipment. The fact that customers were ordering pumps and motors didn’t deter them from wanting slick and sophisticated technology interfaces from their vendors. It’s not just the hip millennials who want experiences that are as easy as those with their favorite social network. Read the full story »

Service Pump and Supply on cutting edge of technology

Service Pump and Supply President Patrick Farrell has been invited to speak at Dreamforce ’17, a multi-national conference expected to convene more than 180,000 business leaders and professionals from across the globe. Farrell will share how Service Pump and Supply is working on the cutting edge of technology by harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud ERP to deliver better results faster and meet the needs of our oil and gas, mining, municipal and industrial manufacturing customers.

SPS worked with Mountain Point, a digital transformation consulting firm, to revolutionize the way we work — speeding up delivery time, providing predictive analytics to help our customers make smart decisions, and improving service quality and product support.

 

Press release from Kenandy:

REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, November 2, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — Kenandy, Inc., a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution provider announced it is gaining traction across the manufacturing sector with new customers Service Pump & Supply (SPS), Merrow Manufacturing and TentCraft.

Several of Kenandy’s customers have moved from legacy on-premises ERP systems to the cloud. In particular, these customers have chosen Kenandy for the agility and flexibility of the solution, as well as its support moving to the Salesforce Platform. Kenandy’s integration of the front office and back office to provide one data platform provides insights and growth opportunities in unique ways for a number of its newly implemented customers.

Service Pump & Supply is an industrial distributor of pumps, electric motors, pipes, and valves. The company relies on an array of business models to maintain its ferocious commitment to customer service as it moves liquids from where they shouldn’t be to where they are better suited. The company’s previous system was far too rigid to provide SPS’s move to new business models. By working with Kenandy, SPS was able to quickly move to a new cloud system for the company’s rentals, consignments and subscriptions of a variety of pumps sized from small to very large, providing significant top line growth. More importantly, being able to respond quickly to situations was critical, which proved effective when Irma was heading to Florida and SPS received a call for pumps. SPS was able to immediately consign and ship needed pumps to the affected area.

Merrow Manufacturing, a 180-year old company that got its start selling gunpowder and knitting supplies in 1838, recently removed its sluggish legacy ERP system and implemented Kenandy Cloud ERP, built on the Salesforce Platform. Since the implementation of the Kenandy platform three years ago, Merrow has started three new business lines and has been able to execute its growth strategy. More recently, Merrow acquired 3 companies and added 100 people to its ranks.

A Michigan manufacturer, TentCraft, attended Dreamforce last year with the intent of building out its legacy system. Having the ability to experience the Salesforce Platform while at the event, the company changed its mind and decided to transition to the cloud. The company chose Kenandy partly for its pre-integration with the Salesforce Platform, in addition to its easy customizability, which reassured the company that it could easily and affordably make changes and additions as needed to grow its marketing tents, flags, and other printed experiential marketing elements for some of North America’s most well-known brands.

Kenandy will once again be sponsoring, exhibiting, and speaking at Dreamforce 2017 to inspire other manufactures to experience the benefits and growth that can be attained by attending the most inspiring technology event of the year and the world’s largest gathering of Trailblazers. As a Gold Sponsor, Kenandy will be in booth #1624 in the Dreamforce Customer Success Expo, where it will be showcasing the solution companies can gain to change business processes and connect closely with their partners, suppliers and distributors via digital channels and devices.

Kenandy Customer Speaking Presentations at Salesforce
Tony Higham, CTO, TentCraft
• 12:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 at Moscone South, Expo Industry Theater

Charlie Merrow, CEO, Merrow Company w/ Salesforce IoT CTO, Charlie Isaacs
• 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Palace Hotel, Grand Ballroom Concert

Gaurav Agrawal, Director IT, Global Supply Chain, Johnson Controls w/ Brent Chamberlain, Global Operations, Koch Filter (subsidiary of Johnson Controls)
• 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Intercontinental San Francisco Hotel, Ballroom A-B

Luke Mason, VP of Marketing, TentCraft
• 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, Intercontinental San Francisco Hotel, Grand Ballroom A-B

Patrick Farrell, President, Service Pump & Supply
• 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Moscone South, Campground: Main Theater

For more information about Kenandy and Cloud ERP, please visit our website.

Salesforce, Dreamforce and others are among the trademarks of salesforce.com, inc.

About Kenandy, Inc.
Kenandy’s Cloud ERP on Salesforce empowers business innovation. Kenandy has redefined enterprise resource planning by allowing customers to map their ERP to their existing business processes. Kenandy is dedicated to giving companies the freedom to innovate products, services, operations and relationships with cloud ERP that is flexible and ready for growth. Unlike traditional ERP systems, Kenandy provides an end-to-end cloud ERP in 150 Business Ready Objects™, not thousands of tables. Now you can, with Kenandy. www.Kenandy.com

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SPS Sponsors Westmorlapalooza 2017

big groupService Pump & Supply joined other local businesses in sponsoring Westmorlapalooza, an summertime community event in the Westmoreland neighborhood of Huntington.  There was plenty of sun, ice cream, and music, and SPS’s newly-formed dodgeball team made its debut in the annual Caged Dodgeball tournament on Saturday, July 15.  The team’s not ready to go pro yet, but we’re already working on strategy for next year!

Farrell Named to Marshall University Board of Governors

Marshall - Old MainPatrick Farrell, president and owner of Service Pump & Supply, has been named to Marshall University’s Board of Governors by Governor Jim Justice. Patrick is one of three new Board members named to four-year terms.  He is eager to bring to the table his experience and commitment to higher education as the university faces the challenges of significantly reduced state funding.

Click here to read the full article.

Patrick Farrell Named to 2017 Who’s Who in West Virginia Business

Patrick Farrell - Who's Who of West Virginia BusinessService Pump & Supply’s president and owner Patrick Farrell has been recognized in The State Journal’s “2017 Who’s Who in West Virginia Business.”  The article discusses Patrick’s service in the U.S. Air Force as a F-15 Strike Eagle weapons operator, his decision to leave his military career to return to West Virginia and make a difference in his hometown, and his vision of the future of the state.

Click here to read the full article.

Companies Diversify Amid Coal Downturn

SPS Shop EmployeeService Pump & Supply once catered almost exclusively to the coal industry, but recognizing the steady decline of the coal industry has led Patrick Farrell to diversify his business to gain a foothold in new markets.  The company, which has well-established locations in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, recently expanded to southern Illinois.

Solving water problems has always been SPS’s main objective, and although work with the coal industry remains a significant part of the business, Service Pump has expanded into the oil and gas industry as well. “If there’s a water project going on somewhere, chances are Service Pump & Supply has a piece of it,” says Farrell.

Click here to read the full article.

Service Pump & Supply Purchases Building

SPS Huntington ExteriorService Pump & Supply has purchased the building it currently occupies at 1111 Vernon St. in Westmoreland. The building was once owned by Coyne Textile, and in 2006 it was donated to the Wayne County Economic Development Authority (WCEDA). Service Pump & Supply began leasing the building in 2007 and has been a fixture of the community ever since.

WCEDA Executive Director Don Perdue noted the company’s commitment to the local economy.  “We applaud Service Pump & Supply for remaining a stable provider of employment for Wayne County and West Virginia, and for cementing their desire to remain here by the purchase of the property.”

Click here to read the full article.