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Customer Intimacy and Technology in Forest Products, Paper and Packaging

Even in B2B industries such as forest products, packaging and paper, customers crave more intimacy with their suppliers. They want to feel that suppliers recognize them and know their needs and acknowledge their value. Even for small companies this can be challenging. For large companies, it’s a daunting task. Fortunately, technology can help create intimacy in a variety of ways. Here’s a sample.

Most Valuable Customer Analysis

For packaging, paper and forest products with their low margins, every profitable customer matters, but it isn’t always easy to recognize which customers or even products are the most profitable. With access to a complete view of all customer interactions, including returns, discounts, consigned inventory costs and the cost of special services or add-ons, the real picture may be very different than if the company simply looks at annual revenue by customer.  Customer satisfaction should be part of the equation. Details such as % of orders on time and % of orders delivered on specification as requested from the overall supply and distribution network from producing mill locations, distribution facilities and transportation can be included.

To get a true and complete picture, companies need a fully integrated ERP system and an analytics tool capable of handling more than simple queries. Detailed analysis of customer orders by product, volume, time of year, source location and price can reveal what is the best combination to meet customer expectations and profitability.  Knowing the actual value of any given customer, the customer service representative (CSR) can decide to take extraordinary measures to satisfy a particular customer—or not. The result is happier and more profitable customers, more efficient business processes, and business process innovation that focuses on two goals: customer intimacy and profitability.

Customer intimacy takes multiple forms, and those forms will vary by customer, company strategy and industry. For example, a technology platform that allows easy mobile internet access to a company’s products and services gives a customer full transparency into their order status.  Customer intimacy for its own sake is of no use—what companies really need are happy customers who continue to place profitable orders. When dealing with commodities such as copy paper, register rolls or corrugated boxes, the office supply customer is much more likely to buy from the supplier from which they can get the information they need fast and the orders they ask for when and where expected. The best way to achieve that is through a fully integrated system that provides a complete view of customer orders and interactions coupled with real time in-memory analytics to provide actionable insight.

Don’t miss our flagship Forest Products, Paper, and Packaging Forum event on October 21-22, 2015, in Frankenthal, Germany. Hear speakers from International Paper, Sappi, Arauco, Suzano, Koehler Paper, and Smurfit-Kappa share insights on thriving in the digital world.  We expect over 200 attendees from customers, partners and industry professionals with whom you can discuss their views on valuable customer analysis.

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