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Columbia Elevator: A Critical Path to Customer Service Part III: Pay-It-Forward Culture for Customers

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Dione Birdsall, Director of Customer Operations

Dione Birdsall, Director of Customer Operations urges customers to maintain regular contact with their
Account Representative.

I’ve been proud to talk about how Columbia’s ‘Pay-it-Forward Culture’ inspires teammates to take great pride in their work and gives us all a chance to support each other as individuals, not just fellow employees. This culture has encouraged us to revitalize Columbia’s commitment to customer satisfaction. At the urging of our teammates, we have reorganized the way we accept orders for our products to make the process even more customer-centric. 

Previously, we were structured in a way that separated orders into segments to be addressed by experts in different departments, such as estimating/quotation, order acceptance/approval drawings, production/engineering, and operations. We’ve even talked about how those different departments interface in some of our earliest blog postings. But, it became time to make a shift when we encountered a business challenge.

When customers inquired at any time during these different stages of production, the receptionist went through an arduous process to determine the stage of the job process to connect the customer caller with the appropriate department. Now, each Columbia customer has an assigned Account Representative, who is intimate with the status of each job and can provide quick, accurate answers to any query. The team determined that this would be better for the customer, and it has shown to be true!

Columbia’s Account Representatives support our customers through the entire job process from providing estimates, to ordering a job, to reviewing and approving design and engineering specifications, to developing unique solutions when a construction site problem arises, and to resolving those field issues in the best way for our customers. Columbia Elevator teammates’ strategic response to the needs of and influences on the elevator installer’s construction jobsite issues has truly increased our focus on the ‘people’ side of the equation. Our customers call upon us for our Pay-It-Forward Culture, in addition to our solution-driven products.

  

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Columbia Elevator: A Critical Path to Customer Service Part II: Pay-It-Forward Culture for Teammates

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 30, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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As part of its “Pay-It-Forward” philosophy, Columbia believes that having a “happy team” of employees, deeply committed to the company’s objectives, is key to achieving them.  In the top photo, (left to right) Chief Operating Officer Ken Hendrickson, Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta and Laura Blaiotta are preparing to serve dessert at Columbia’s Bridgeport Facility’s Summer Field Day.

As part of its “Pay-It-Forward” philosophy, Columbia believes that having a “happy team” of employees, deeply committed to the company’s objectives, is key to achieving them.
In the top photo, (left to right) Chief Operating Officer Ken Hendrickson, Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta and Laura Blaiotta are preparing to serve dessert at Columbia’s Bridgeport Facility’s Summer Field Day.

at Columbia’s Kansas manufacturing plant, a holiday dinner is being served to staff by (left to right, in white shirts) Chief Customer Officer Marc Dinkes and Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta

In the middle photo, at Columbia’s Kansas manufacturing plant, a holiday dinner is being served to staff by (left to right, in white shirts) Chief Customer Officer Marc Dinkes and Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta.

In the lower photo, Columbia’s Miami Director of Engineering Klever Calderon and Executive Director of Operations Tom Birdsall (left to right) are behind the grill preparing a late day barbeque for staff.

In the lower photo, Columbia’s Miami Director of Engineering Klever Calderon and Executive Director of Operations Tom Birdsall (left to right) are behind the grill preparing a late day barbeque for staff.

At Columbia Elevator, we believe that having a 'happy team’ deeply committed to customer-centric mindset is a major key to achieving our objectives. We have developed our own version of the virtuous spiral, called ‘Columbia’s Pay-it-Forward Culture.’

At the top we have Columbia Elevator as the corporate entity or the ‘solutions provider.’ Columbia Elevator must satisfy, or better yet, make raving fans out of its employees and customers. To accomplish this, we strive to treat our team members kindly and respectfully. We have a genuine concern for their well-being and are dedicated to creating an environment that fosters a sense of pride, self-worth, and fulfillment.

From the way they are treated, our team members are inspired and empowered to ‘pay it forward’ to our customers. I see our team members caring deeply about their work and regularly going the extra mile for the customer. It is our hope that the resulting exceptional experience for our customers will convert them into raving Columbia fans who strengthen our enterprise with the business they bring. A healthy Columbia can then increasingly invest in the well-being of its team and continue the cycle of Pay-It-Forward.

Almost two years ago, Columbia’s revitalized commitment to its team members led to the formal creation of an Employee Engagement & Enrichment division with two primary goals: to create an environment where team members love their jobs and to continually invest in the growth of team members. A volunteer committee was assembled to take an active role in expanding Columbia’s employee focus.

The committee’s first steps were to expand the ways we recognize team member contributions; increase the use of two-way, transparent communication; and increase the sense of community and belonging throughout the organization. Columbia Elevator was founded as a family company, and this committee is dedicated to maintaining that family culture through company-sponsored quarterly events, various monthly meetings, newsletters and company-wide memos, and a robust continuing education program.

This focus on turning customers and employees into fans of the company and creating a supportive, respectful culture has influenced the structure of how Columbia interfaces with our customers. Next time, I’ll talk about how Pay-It-Forward has enhanced our customer interactions.

  

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Columbia Elevator: A Critical Path to Customer Service

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 16, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Pay it ForwardI have always had a heightened awareness of and focus on the human aspect of conducting business. In fact, it was one of the primary reasons Columbia Elevator was founded. Business cannot solely be about the products, and at Columbia Elevator, part of our mission is to operate with a customer-centric mindset. Our team is focused on promoting a culture built on how best to satisfy the concerns and needs of all its stakeholders - customers and employees alike.

Of course, we at Columbia love our products. While we pride ourselves on our ‘pretty’ doors, for example, we know that our customers don’t buy our doors simply because they’re prettier than the next company’s. Even given the assumption that our products and our competitors’ products are of sufficient quality and match our high safety compliant standards, our customers expect an additional layer of confidence from Columbia.

Elevator contractors care deeply about getting the right solution or product, on-time, every time! This means that what they get from us must be exactly what they need, when they need it, packaged in a way that arrives safely, is complete, and installs easily. In short, what our customers want is absolute reliance on a company that makes them feel good about – and unhesitatingly confident in – their provider.

The Columbia vision and understanding of customer’s needs allows us to operate as a ‘products’ company wrapped in the blanket of a ‘customer service’ company.

With a clearly defined vision of our customers’ needs, we at Columbia were then able to align our systems, processes, and our team to think first about the customer and then to design around their wants and needs. Our ‘Pay-It-Forward’ Culture is about delighting our customers every time with consistent, dependable jobsite peace-of-mind. That can only be accomplished when our customer-facing divisions of Engineering, Customer Operations and Sales & Marketing, as well as our methodologies and procedures in Operations and Quality Management, always maintain a customer-centric focus.

 

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