Oregon Steel was prepared to make major changes in its sales force because sales were flat and customers were unhappy.
But, before making the changes, the firm needed to better understand what a few key customers were thinking.
CFM conducted a round of one-on-one interviews with the manufacturer's key customers to assess service, products and business activities. The interviews produced few complaints about the sales force or product quality. The concern centered on aspects of the company’s operations. Next, CFM conducted a telephone survey with a sample cross-section of the company's customers. The survey validated the findings of the one-on-one interviews.
The research caused the company's management team to abandon its original plan and focus attention instead on the real hot button for customers – on-time delivery. Instead of rearranging its sales force, the company rearranged its priorities and made on-time shipments the highest priority.