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70 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2020 supply chains really are. As time went on, a new normal was created that redefined our industry, country, and the world. Businesses closed, jobs were lost, and essential workers were put into a new environment—one whose war cry centered on being "safe and healthy." Those who were required to go into the office had to wear masks and have their tempera- tures taken at the start of and throughout their day; they also washed and disinfected continu- ously and maintained a safe six-foot distance from each other. Other employees—those who could—worked remotely. With all these changes and unknowns cre- ated from the coronavirus, the critical part of creating a customer-centric work environment has been put at risk. Some businesses need to reduce work hours or cut staff; otherwise, they simply cannot deliver the product or service that they promise to their customers. This finds company buyers and consumers alike search- ing to find new reliable sources. Without a reliable source, their businesses struggle to maintain production, and a domino effect further down the supply chain is in jeop- ardy of happening—no materials, no parts, no product, no sales, no revenue, and ultimately no jobs. Customer service people had their work cut out for them to be able to ensure ongoing business and provide reassurance and peace of mind to their existing customer base and new customer prospects. What does customer service look like now? What does it need to look like to not only meet the needs of customers but also exceed them to the point of being memorable and creating loyal customer advocates? How do we cre- ate this exceptional level of service in today's world in 2020? Simply put, it takes a team, but not just any team. It needs to be a team of committed cus- tomer service professionals that understand both the challenges of the company they work for, as well as the needs and expectations of the customers they also work for. To support a customer and provide the highest level of ser- vice, you must first know what you can commit to and how best that commitment fits into the customer's supply chain—both in product and delivery. After all, isn't that what we all want when we are looking for a product or service— a company whose employees understand your needs and are willing to do whatever is pos- sible to meet those needs? With all that has happened in 2020, the one thing that can be a shining light is how a business focuses on its customers and helps them to be successful. Sure, everything may be a little different for you, but the customer's need is still there, and it is the most important thing. Your customers are looking for a reliable partner that shows an understanding of their needs—one that gains their confidence and builds a level of trust that they can feel good about. Along with this, you must use technology to provide them with an easy way of contacting you through multiple communication channels that they can choose from: phone, chat, email, or text. Every customer wants to be able to reach you easily and confidently and in a way that they are most comfortable with. They also want you to be proactive in contacting them with both the good news and the not so good news. The important thing is that you proac- tively reach out and be that honest, helpful partner they are looking for. Don't make them have to contact you; you need to reach out to them in an honest, helpful, and timely way. I tell my customer service team to consider themselves master chefs with customer ser- Al Secchi

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