Thursday, 2 October 2014

MATHEW HODGKINS - TECHNICAL SALES ENGINEER

I have been with Norbar Torque Tools for nearly seven years, with my first role being a Trainee Sales Engineer. I have worked my way up through the company to my current role of Technical Sales Engineer.

The primary objective of my role is to support the internal Customer Relations team, who deal with the day-to-day order entering process and are the first point of contact for customers. I also support the network of distributors that we have, and the end users that contact us on a daily basis. The Technical Sales Engineers are essentially the ‘safety net’ for when something goes wrong or when a customer has a technical enquiry.

The role involves a lot of interaction with the distribution network that has been set up to enhance maximum productivity for customers. It involves daily support via email and telephone about potential applications for Norbar products. However, our support offering for customers doesn’t end there. We regularly visit end users to evaluate applications and solutions to applications, showcasing and recommending the Norbar range of products to potential customers. It’s imperative that we spend a lot of time with our distributors in training them on Norbar products to provide them with the tools they need to confidently sell Norbar products to their given territory.

When we visit potential customers and discussing applications, it’s essential we listen to the customer’s requirements and understand the specification required. Then, and only then, can we evaluate what’s required and identify the correct Norbar product that will match the customer’s expectation. Sometimes, what the customer thinks they want and what they need can be different, so we also need to manage the customer’s expectation of what can be achieved. Once this has been done, the Technical Sales Engineer passes on the technical information to the end user and a suitable and local distributor is then introduced, so the end user has a local contact for purchasing products and support.

The focus of the role is all towards the customer and maintaining relationships with customers and end users, both old and new. We must also ensure that our internal Customer Relations team, distribution network and the end users that get in touch with us are confident that we have the support capabilities they need and expect.


Mathew Hodgkins, Technical Sales Engineer


EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE..WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Customer service is something I’m very passionate about and have been for over 30 years. Over these years, I have managed many teams in the sales arena, internal and external, large and small, and the one thing they all had in common was a passionate customer focus. Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions, promise the world, slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, however, unless you can retain those customers and generate repeat business, your company won’t be as profitable as it should be.

It’s all about sending the customer away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer them and then become repeat customers. It’s a well-known fact that people buy from people, and Norbar’s customers are no different.

Our customer will always have a choice, so it’s down to us to make sure that when they are in the market for a product, Norbar is the first company the customer thinks of. Good customer service goes a long way to ensuring repeat business. It’s not always about how good the product is, or the price. Every interaction and touch point we have with our customers gives us an opportunity to impact on their decision making process now and in the future. If you receive excellent customer service, you will statistically go and tell one work colleague, a friend of even a family member. If you have had a bad experience, you will go and tell ten more. Now that’s food for thought!

A lost customer will never tell you they are going and it’s always too late once they have migrated underneath our radar to the competition. We spend a lot of money and invest huge amounts of time and resource as a business into winning a customer so surely it makes good commercial to do everything we can to retain them. There are no written rules – one glove doesn’t fit all. Everybody has a different approach but rest assured, a business with a passionate approach to customer service will perform better, retain higher margins and have higher customer retention levels than one that doesn’t. 


My next blog will take a look at what we can do as a business during the working day to influence and improve further customer service levels. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

Jeremy Tucker, UK Business Manager

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE IS AT THE CORNERSTONE OF NORBAR'S PHILOSOPHY

It goes without saying that excellent customer service is a vital part of a successful business and at Norbar this is no different. In fact, we pride ourselves on delivering the very best service to our customers at every stage. We don’t just see the customer service team as a group of people who deal with complaints or who are called upon when people have an issue that needs resolving. Exceptional customer service starts from the first contact that is made with the customer to the last, and our staff are trained to always ensure that each and every one of our customers receive the very best service from any member of the Norbar team they encounter.

This customer focused ethos is part of Norbar’s philosophy, something that we instil in all of our staff from the moment they join us, and something that we continually strive to uphold. Our Customer Relations Manager, Stephen Maxfield, has blogged about the mantra that his team upholds:

Good customer service is about giving the customer an experience that keeps them coming back while at the same time making them happy enough to recommend your business to friends and colleagues.

So, how do we delight the customer and keep them coming back for more?

Listen. Pay attention to what the customer has to say and how they are saying it, ask questions if you are unsure what the customer wants and don’t make any assumptions.

Build a rapport. Make the customer feel important and valued. Treat them as you would expect to be treated and engage with them. While you are talking to them they should feel like they are the most important person in your world.  

Do not disappoint the customer. Always try your best to help the customer. If you don’t know the answer to a question the customer must feel confident that you are going to find the right answer within a reasonable time. If you promise to call a customer back with an answer never disappoint them.

Go the extra mile. What can you offer the customer that they can’t get anywhere else? It may be as simple as the way you close the call, is there anything else you can help them with or anything that can be done to improve their experience?

Good customer service applies company wide, at every point of contact and we should never give our customers a reason to take their business elsewhere.



Stephen Maxfield, Customer Relations Manager.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A MASSIVE STEP FORWARD WITH T-BOX TECHNOLOGY

For the first thirty years that Norbar manufactured torque measuring instruments we were not too concerned about what people did with the data that the instrument produced.  Of course, the earliest versions did not even provide a means of electronically transferring the data from the instrument to any other device, so the provision of RS-232 in the 1980s seemed like an advance, but a costly one, because we charged over £200 extra or the privilege.  Also, it took so much space in the lid of the instruments (TWA and ETS) that you could not have RS-232 and an internal battery pack.  Those were the days!


The real Norbar instrument geeks will remind me that RS-232 was not our first means of data transfer – that was Binary Coded Decimal (BCD) on the ETTA instrument of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but I am going to gloss over that!

Thankfully, RS-232 became standard on instruments from 1994 although there is now a question of whether new generation products should include it because it has been made virtually obsolete by USB and many computers do not have an RS-232 connection.

Having a means of data output is one thing, but being able to do anything with the data is another.  Also, our solution did nothing for customers who needed to rove around their workplace gathering data as they went as we had no product with multiple memories.

With this in mind, we put a huge effort behind the launch of Pro-Log in 1999.  Finally, we could gather data on internal memory, perform simple analysis of the data and download the data via RS-232 for archiving and more sophisticated analysis – although, at the time, we provided no PC software to assist with this.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Pro-Log was a clever device let down by the user interface technology that was available at an affordable price at the time.  Because we were using a fairly small, monochrome display people’s perception was that the instrument was complicated and that was its downfall.  The good news is that the Pro-Log developed into the highly successful TTT , TST and “Harsh Environment” instruments, the latest versions of which are still selling strongly today, but by 2004 we were back in the position that none of our instruments had the capability of multiple memories.

As the “noughties” progressed, we saw the price of colour display technology and single board computers drop to the point that they became viable for use in torque measuring instruments and we decided to develop the Pro-Log concept into a modern instrument.  We launched the T-Box in 2009 and, for the first time, we made our instrument available with comprehensive PC software (TDMS) that allowed more sophisticated analysis of the data than was possible on the instrument itself and for archiving and tool management, including the production of calibration certificates.
The original T-Box was a massive step forward in terms of torque data management and the colour touch screen was light years ahead of the old Pro-Log display.  If we are critical of ourselves, the display looked a little small in the case which lead to accusations of an “etch-a-sketch” appearance (remember those?), but that did not stop the T-Box being a fantastic bit of kit that sold well to the end.

“The end” of the T-Box was brought about somewhat prematurely because some of the parts that we relied on were obsoleted by the manufacturers.  However, this gave us a chance to re-visit the product and incorporate some of the great ideas that had been suggested over nearly five years of T-Box production.  We also changed the display screen to a high definition 7” type and put in a faster processor to make PC synchronising more rapid.  Wow, what a difference.  The 7” screen looks so right in the case that you would never guess that they were not designed for each other in the first instance.  With the incorporation of so many of the ideas from the market into both T-Box and TDMS there is a genuine coming-of-age feel to T-Box XL.  A good product just became great.



Philip Brodey, Sales and Marketing Director, Norbar Torque Tools