Last month we published part 1 of the article. If you missed it, please click here.
Now let’s continue with the final part of the article.
According to Dorinda, there are three ingredients to a good customer intimacy strategy: “First, you need to be close to your customers. You need to measure customer intimacy to find out how close you are, what you can improve, and where you want to go. We measured by compiling data regarding which customers had been in touch with us, at which levels, and how frequently. Then you have to be very, very honest, as a company and especially as the management team. Han Knooren is good at this, and I believe I also practice honesty in all my relationships. I am very honest about the good things but also about the bad things. When you are also honest about things you don’t do right, you show your clients that you care and want to improve. This was one of the most important changes we realized in our customer relationships. We even communicated how bad our performance was. This honesty is an essential part of stakeholder management. It creates a deeper level of trust by showing what is not yet going well and where you can improve together with what is going well. And the third ingredient is continuous improvement. I believe we can always do better tomorrow. There is always something to discuss.”
At Yonder, we also focus on customer intimacy. Our primary tool is our customer satisfaction survey that we have sent quarterly for many years. “We need to know how our clients perceive our services. Yonder sells knowledge-intensive, complex, high-cost (effort, time), and unique services. We have our processes and best practices in place, but each client requires outstanding service for their solution. By focusing on customer intimacy, we place our customers center stage.” Says Daniel. “We continuously improve and tailor the services not only to meet but to exceed expectations. Customer Intimacy will create customer loyalty in the long term.”
“When I became the MD of PharmaPartners GP, that business unit was already working with Yonder. But back then, the relationship was not very strong. I feel this was because there was not enough connection. You need to be in touch with people and understand the impact of your work. That is also crucial in customer intimacy,” mentions Dorinda. So, Daniel and Dorinda decided to connect their teams in Romania and the Netherlands. When the Romanian team members visited the Netherlands, PharmaPartners had arranged that they could meet actual pharmacies and see how users work with the product in real life. “This was one of the first times that Yonder’s customer took Yonder to meet the end clients and experience how the software works through the eyes of users. This was an extremely valuable visit, from a bonding perspective but also for gaining much deeper insights into actual usage. To this day, people at Yonder talk about this visit,” says Daniel. Of course, when PharmaPartners visit Romania, the renowned Romanian hospitality ensures that the visit is well worth the time and effort from a business and relationship-building perspective.
At the start, we experienced miscommunication, a lack of connection, and a lack of mutual understanding on both sides. But both companies were becoming more customer-centric, and we were exploring how we could accommodate that customer intimacy. Daniel continues: “It was an adventure for both of us; we didn’t have the answer, but we had the ambition. So, during the meetings, we discussed PharmaPartners and Yonder’s objectives, sharing positive and negative customer feedback, the numbers, and finance goals. And then look at ways we could help each other. Creating a win-win situation for both partners is when it becomes a partnership rather than a client-supplier relationship. Put a meeting structure into place on different levels within the teams, where we can be brutally honest with each other. As a result, we strengthened our relationship and built trust in each other.”
Dorinda shares her best practice on customer intimacy during TSS Best practice days. She has a vision and ambition for customer intimacy. It goes hand in hand with caring about your team and focusing on talent development. So, within TSS, business and HR are linked. “And yes, I talk about continuous improvement of our business performance; the numbers, figures, and ratios. But my teams can confirm I rarely leave a meeting without touching upon customer intimacy and talent development. Even annoyingly so, there she goes again, I can hear them think.” laughs Dorinda. “Daniel and I value the power of connection and of complementing each other. We understand that we should connect the different forces and competencies working together so people can realize results. That is the basis of the corporation between Yonder and PharmaPartners.” Daniel agrees, “The companies, teams, and people complement each other; we value and understand the other’s level of abilities. To realize excellent results, you need other people and other skills. It is all about understanding the power of completion.”
We would like to thank Dorinda and Daniel for sharing their thoughts and insights with us.