Sourcing raw ingredients and overseeing bulk import supply chains – that’s what you’d expect from a wholesale importing business, right?
And, ultimately, you do get that when you work with Ingredient Brothers. But it’s just the tip of the service iceberg. Because we don’t just source ingredients. We don’t just oversee the administration and compliance of wholesale imports. We weave the magic of partnership into every transaction.
Our philosophy is simple but profound: our clients are at the heart of everything we do. That customer-centric mindset drives every decision we make. We believe in building relationships that stand the test of time, where it’s not just about delivering quality products, but rather about delivering a quality experience.
So what does a truly customer-centric strategy look like in practice? Let’s take a look.
The importance of relationship-driven experiences: Where customer-driven service begins
Over the years, multiple management strategies have come and gone and made their mark on the business landscape – design thinking, experience transformation, Sigma Six, and total quality management – all of them bringing operations a little closer to the heart of the matter: giving customers the best service possible.
From a certain perspective, these strategies may look similar to dieting crazes that pop up every few months. But from a wholesale importer’s perspective, I’ve seen the lasting impact these dieting fads have on the industry. Similarly, I’m able to recognize the lasting impact each of these management strategy iterations has had. Because at their core each one is aimed at improving the way companies interact with and serve their clients.
So it just makes sense that a customer-centric mindset was the natural evolution of the journey. But the secret to customer-centric management doesn’t lie with a management style, but rather with empowering employees to do meaningful work.
Putting customers first at every level of the company
Customers need to be at the heart of all we do, no matter who you are.
Denise Lee Yohn, in her article 6 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture, clearly illustrates that an effective customer-centric strategy requires everyone to be on the same page, from leadership through to the part-time filing clerk.
Her message is simple: true customer-centric strategies empower each employee to have an impact on the customer experience, actively addressing the actual pain points of clients instead of just performing their job functions. But that’s only possible if employees understand the pain points of clients as well as how their job functions and daily tasks react to those pain points within the bigger picture.
One of the positive outcomes that stems from this is the gradual breakdown of functional silos. Because everyone knows the value of each role and how others can help to improve the overall delivery of services.
But more than understanding existing pain points and how the company addresses those pain points, being customer-centric also means anticipating the needs, the wants, and most importantly the challenges of your clients.
It’s best summed up in Henry Ford’s words: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” An effective customer-centric strategy enables employees to see the need for a car when faster horses are sought after.
The cost of being customer-centric: It’s not all about money
As people, we want positive experiences when interacting with companies. A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 32% of customers would stop doing business with a company after a single bad experience, even if it is a brand they’ve come to love.
The same study found that consumers were willing to pay more for services if certain criteria were met, regardless of the formal Service Agreement. The top four aspects are efficiency, convenience, friendly service, and knowledgeable support.
These are the attributes people require of the businesses they interact with. And the same criteria are mirrored in business partnerships, isn’t it?
As business leaders, we’re willing to pay a little bit more to ensure things move forward without resistance. We’re willing to narrow the margin in the short term because we know that its accumulative impact will improve operations and output in the long term.
But it’s interesting to note that the final two factors have one thing in common: they’re both dependent on people and how they treat customers. And if you think back, how often have you chosen a cold and distant business partner over a pleasant one that actively engages with you?
So if businesses are willing to pay more for the way people treat them, how amazing would it be if you could work with a company that gives you that same consideration without increasing the price tag?
As a bulk importer and strategic sourcing partner, our goal has never been closing the biggest, most lucrative deals; our main objective is to open and sustain long-term supply lines between reliable international vendors from across the world and ingredient buyers in the USA. And that isn’t done by charging more for the value of relationships, it’s done by putting the people you work with first, no matter the outcome.
Telling it like it is: Why feedback matters
A customer-centric company isn’t built on attitude and mindset alone. It takes being practical about how each person interacts with clients. On one hand, it’s about accessible support that doesn’t stick to a script, instead addressing the pain points that are unearthed and brought forward right at that moment. On the other hand, it’s about being proactive and intuitive about the journey a customer is on and coming forward with ideas and solutions to challenges that don’t even exist yet.
And one of the biggest support structures that makes customer-centric behavior possible is feedback. Continuous feedback drives continuous improvement. It can be hard to hear what you’ve done wrong (or at least what you could have done better) from clients, but it’s one of the most valuable tools for development. And when you’ve built a relationship with a client who is willing to give you honest feedback, you know that they’ll stick around to see you implement it.
Here’s to creating even more customer-centric journeys
The key ingredient is the creation of positive experiences at every stage of the customer journey. That includes the accounts department and the sending of that dreaded “Payment Due” email. Because every single interaction, no matter how administrational and automated it may seem, is being forwarded to a person on the other end. And we have to keep that in mind.
In the bulk and wholesale importing and sourcing game, with its extensive supply chain stages, that opens the door to multiple opportunities where the journey can be enriched and relationships strengthened.
Putting our customers at the heart of all we do also helps us become neutral advocates for them and pave the way for their growth in our actions, where the result is the creation of meaningful experiences.
Each industry, country, and ingredient family requires its unique approach, and its own set of variables to keep in mind when putting yourself in your clients’ shoes. But it’s a practice we’ve come close to perfecting if I do say so myself. Just take a look at the diverse markets we’ve supported in our Bulk Catalog for proof.
If you’re looking for a sourcing partner and wholesale importer that does things differently, and truly cares about the companies we work with, schedule a call with us and we’ll explore the possibilities together. And in the meantime, explore our catalog here!
Here’s to the future, and putting you first.