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Columbia: A Critical New Path to Customer Service

Friday, November 3, 2017

by Ralph M. Newman

Source: Elevator World

LJ Blaiotta with QE3On the cusp of a new year, Columbia Elevator Products is emerging with an all-new mission: to operate with a customer-centric mindset and promote an overall culture built around best satisfying the concerns and needs of all of its stakeholders (customers and employees alike).

“We have a heightened awareness of and focus on the human aspect of conducting business,” explains Columbia CEO LJ Blaiotta.

“Our business cannot solely be about the products. Sure, we at Columbia love our products, but our customers will never love them as much as we do. While we pride ourselves on our ‘pretty’ doors, for example, they don’t buy our doors simply because they’re prettier than the next company’s. With the given assumption that the product is of sufficient quality and safety compliance for the job, here’s what our customers, the installing elevator contractors, do deeply care about: getting the right solution, on-time, every time. This means that they get from us exactly what they need, when they need it, packaged in a way that arrives safely, is complete, and installs easily. In short, what they want is absolute reliance on a company that doesn’t give them ‘heartburn,’ but rather makes them feel good about – and unhesitatingly confident in – their provider.”

With this newly defined vision of a customer’s needs, Columbia is undergoing a shift from a “products” company to a “customer service” company. To Columbia, this means more than simply providing exceptional customer service; it means aligning their systems, processes, and people to think first about the customer and then to design around their wants and needs. According to Blaiotta, this is a company-wide effort to entirely rearrange the way it does business. In addition to completely restructuring Columbia’s customer-facing divisions, which include Engineering, Customer Operations and Sales & Marketing, they are also rethinking methodologies and procedures in Operations and Quality Management. The objective is delighting customers each and every time with consistent, dependable jobsite peace-of-mind

Blaiotta explains: “We believe that having a 'happy team’ deeply committed to these objectives is a major key to achieving them and 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 employees, or team members, kindly and respectfully – with a genuine concern for their well-being – creating an environment that fosters a sense of pride, self-worth, and fulfillment. By virtue of the way they are treated, we look to our team members to be inspired and empowered to ‘pay it forward’ to our customers, caring deeply about what they do and walking the proverbial extra mile. It is our hope, then, that the resulting exceptional experience for our customers will convert them into raving fans who continually strengthen the Columbia enterprise with the business they bring. A healthy Columbia can then increasingly invest in the well-being of its team, thereby continuing the cycle.”

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