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Digging deeper for customers

04 November 2020

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Yale is digging deeper with customers in its Discovery Interviews, to help determine the right material handling priorities and solutions, says Robert O’Donoghue.

Yale believes that an understanding of its customer’s industry helps its experts to seek out effective strategies and products for business operations. This is a key component to the New Product Blueprinting process, as Yale industry experts are able to combine a customer’s anecdotal evidence with their own knowledge of the specific industry to suggest a range of Yale materials handling products to improve their operations.

Yale segments the market into ten different industries: food, beverage, chemical, automotive, paper, wood, logistics, retail, metal and construction.

These ten industries make up about 90% of the materials handling market. Our role as Industry Managers is to use our knowledge of those applications and put the customer at the centre of it, to make sure that we’re developing products and solutions that the application or industry actually needs.

New Product Blueprinting is a structured open process. This takes place in a Discovery Interview, giving the customer the opportunity to analyse the successes, as well as operational struggles, of their business. Originally developed by the AIM Institute, the Discovery Interview consists of five key stages and often requires only a few hours’ investment to lay the foundations of a materials handling solution.

Four to five different key stakeholders from the customer attend the Discovery Interview with Yale industry experts. It’s a really transparent process, which ensures all parties understand every area of focus. In the meeting, everything is projected onto the screen so everyone can see what is being noted at all times, and corrections can be made there and then to avoid misunderstandings.

The first stage of the interview is known as Current State. As well as hearing directly from the customers, Yale industry experts often also attend the site and survey the working environment.

We focus on the customer’s application and ask the stakeholders to describe how operations are running. After this, we move to the next stage to uncover the challenges. Questions are asked, such as ‘what is giving the customer issues and what keeps them awake at night?’ Even with a small throwaway statement we will try to make it more specific, and really dig deeper into what the true problem may be. This may be something the different stakeholders are unaware of, or potentially disagree on. The discussion doesn’t have to be related to material handling processes only, it needs to centre on what matters to the customer at that time.

The third phase of the Discovery Interview looks at Ideal States, where we begin to talk about what utopia would look like to the stakeholders. Triggered Ideas is the fourth step of the interview focusing on specific areas and processes within the operation. The final stage is Top Picks. This is about the customer narrowing down what they want Yale to focus on.

A recommendation report is sent to the customer within a month of the interview, which gives suggestions for short, medium, and long term best practices. Yale industry experts return to visit the customer with concepts for their specific solution.

Discovery Interviews are a great opportunity for customers to reflect on their own business, which is something a lot of firms don’t have the time to do. You’re bringing together the purchasing manager, the logistics manager, HR and so on. Seeing each other’s key wants and needs up-close can be surprisingly informative. Not everyone within a business operation faces the same challenges as their colleagues, and the collaboration from across the business can create a tailored solution that benefits everyone.

Robert O’Donoghue, solutions director EMEA, Yale

For more information, visit www.yale.com