The ‘personal touch’ is worth its weight in gold, especially in difficult times
At Van Duuren we often talk about the great value of the ‘personal touch’ and the importance of short lines of communication with our clients. The problem with statements of this kind is of course that you hear them all the time. After all, which company does not mention customer-friendliness and service orientation as important core values?
There are undoubtedly many companies that take customer focus very seriously, but it can also turn out to be a somewhat meaningless marketing phrase. And shiny brochures and pretty marketing messages are no help to anyone, are they? As far as I am concerned, a ‘personal touch’ is only of value if you weave the idea into your daily work in a completely natural way. You could almost say: “You’re doing it before you know it”.
At Van Duuren – even if I do say so myself – we find this strong personal focus extremely important. If we have to supply shops for a new client at a difficult, busy location in Madrid, I’ll be on the plane before I know it, so to speak. We want to see for ourselves how to do things and go through the process together with the customer on the spot.
We work a lot for retail customers and sometimes have to deliver to dozens of shops spread across the destination country. You then have to deal with all kinds of practical issues. And situations that differ from location to location. You can probably imagine that delivering to each location in the busy city centres of Madrid, Glasgow or Paris can present its own unique challenges. Are there restrictions on when our vans can enter a shopping centre? Would it be convenient to use smaller vehicles to deliver to the shops? Would it be convenient to give the driver a key to the shop? Do we need two people to deliver goods to the third floor?
In the past year, of course, retail was hugely disrupted by the corona crisis. But new challenges also emerged as a result. As end-consumers were increasingly buying online, our retail customers needed a good e-commerce service. We therefore launched a special Direct to Consumer service. With this service, we mainly focus on business customers who have oversized products transported which do not fall within the parcel network of the major distributors, such as furniture, bicycles or garden products. With our Direct to Consumer service, we offer a combination of B2B and B2C. In this way, we become a one-stop shop for our customers: you can have your products delivered to a wholesaler as well as to individual consumers who order the product themselves online.
Another specific corona-related problem occurred with one of our customers, where the lockdown caused sales in the German shops to come to a stop. They were looking for a 3000 square metre warehouse at short notice. We then rented part of our warehouse to them and, in one month, collected their goods from 420 shops in Germany. In our warehouse, the shop employees were then able to separate these shipments and deliver them as e-commerce products.
These are a few recent examples. What do I think they prove? That a ‘personal touch’ is all about ‘practise what you preach’ or – for those who want to hear it from my native Amsterdam – ‘Deeds not words’. If you make personal attention central to all your work, it will become second nature. And that, in turn, ensures that in times of crisis, you quickly take the step to adapt to the changing situation, no matter how strange it may be, and to look for quick, practical solutions together with your client.
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