Why Graco Gives Customers Direct Access to Its CEO and Other Cust Serv Tips
September 19, 2019
Jeff Weber, customer service manager for Graco, is perhaps one of the best people to manage Graco’s customer service team. As a former Graco engineer, Weber used to design the processes to create the products Graco customers ask about.
“I was a manufacturing engineer, a supervisor, and then a production manager,” Weber said. “This new role that I’ve taken in customer service gives me a different perspective on the customer. But—and I know this sounds a little cliché—customer service isn’t just a department within Graco. Everyone in the company is constantly thinking about the customer, so essentially, everyone at Graco works in customer service.”
Graco manufactures and markets premium equipment to move, measure, control, dispense and spray a wide variety of fluid and powder materials. In his role with Graco, Weber manages a forty-person customer service team located in Minnesota. In addition to that team, Graco has a technical assistance group of agents of about thirty, as well as customer service and technical assistance offices across the world.
Graco has recently been heralded among the customer service crowd for placing a direct link to its CEO on its website. This customer service strategy, as well as a few others, caught our attention, so we sat down with Weber and asked about his approach to customer service.
Q. How do you ensure that your customers are getting the best product on the market?
A. We look at everything from the customer’s point of view. So when we were thinking about how many products to check for quality, the answer was simple: Everything. We test 100 percent of our products. Graco highly values customer service, and delivering high-quality products contributes to our service levels.
Q. What is your customer service philosophy?
A. We call our philosophy A+ Service … to every customer, every time. That means that no matter who you are or how much you order, you get the same service every time. We don’t put people into groups saying you ordered x amount of this so, you get x service. It’s the same excellent service for everyone.
To reinforce our commitment to customer service, we have a button on our website that says “Email the CEO” for anyone who isn’t satisfied with the service they receive. Whenever a customer feels like something wasn’t right, they can email the CEO directly, who personally reads and answers those emails. It doesn’t matter who you are—whether you’re a distributor or an end user—you have a direct path to the top person within our company. I don’t think that’s very common in any industry, especially within a company of our size.
Q. What other ways do you show your customers your commitment to A+ Service?
A. Our main phone number doesn’t have a menu on it. When a customer calls in, they are directly routed to a person. That’s published first on our website. The idea is that while we care about every customer, we don’t need to gather information from the customer to decide what kind of service they should get. We rethought our menus after we learned the various numbers we had on our website could be confusing to customers. They didn’t know where to call, and when they called, the menus confused them further. Now, customers can call one number and their call is answered by someone who can help.
Q. What kind of training do you offer your team?
A. We have trained specialists within all of our divisions. When our customer service reps are first hired, they take an online class and then attend in-person product training classes. As we launch new products, we have specific in-person trainings to update our customer service reps on those products. Our training is constant and, if one of our reps wants to go to a training or seminar, we try to support them.
Q. What’s been your biggest achievement in the past year?
A. I haven’t been in this role for a year yet, but the direct phone number change was a big accomplishment for us. Before that change, our primary goal was to get each customer to the right person.
Now, our primary objective is to get our customers to a person as quickly as possible so their problem can be solved even faster. We are still measuring this change. We’re collecting data and trying to understand how many calls are transferred and whether we need to put other people on the line with a different area of expertise. A lot of our customer service reps who are on that main line have twenty-five to thirty-five years of experience. It seems to be working so far.
Q. What technology has been the most useful for your customer service team?
A. We have a CRM software that’s been super useful. It helps us with many areas, including our process of not having a phone menu on our main line. If a customer calls and we recognize the number, the technology helps us with information gathering. If we need to transfer that person to another group, we can do a warm transfer so they don’t have to repeat the identifying questions. It helps us communicate their information and needs to the larger Graco team.
Q. What is the best compliment you’ve received about the customer service you provide (as a team or individually)?
A. Not long ago, one of our customers used the email the CEO button because we had not provided A+ Service. We found and fixed the issue, but were a little tentative about what our future reputation with the customer might be. We received an email a month later from this customer. He said he hadn’t seen a company with such knowledgeable people working for them in years. So we changed him from a Graco detractor to a promoter within a month.