For chemical companies, customer service plays a central role in forming the “face” to the customer, and in understanding, shaping, fulfilling and even exceeding the expectations of buyers. Often, however, its contribution is underappreciated, and it is something of an untapped resource. But Accenture’s Global Buyer Values Study for Chemicals shows that there are key areas where improvements can help chemical companies make better use of this function to drive increased customer centricity.
Customer service in the industry typically involves a wide range of customer interactions and touchpoints. It includes taking orders, helping set up commercial terms and delivery dates, managing shipping and order changes, and providing customers with information about product quality, specifications and REACH compliance. The customer service function is also the first point of contact for dissatisfied customers, making it the “troubleshooter” that handles complaints and resolves problems. Altogether, customer service involves numerous, frequent interactions that play a large role in shaping the customers’ overall experience.
The research examined the importance that customers place on a variety of factors, compared to what chemical companies think that their customers find important. The findings show several key differences between seller and buyer perspectives when it comes to factors related to the customer service function. These differences emerged for both buyer groups in the study—converters, who transform chemical products for manufacturing segments and end-use markets, and manufacturers, who produce finished products for industrial sectors and consumers. (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Perception gaps between sellers and buyers for customer service attributes