Why Do Customers Enjoy Working with Us? Because We Are “Honest, Helpful, and Human”
The results of our latest customer survey are in, and we’re thrilled to hear that 97.5% of our customers find us ‘easy to do business with’. But what does that mean exactly? How do we make it happen? To find out, we caught up with Inside Sales Officer Cheryl Blackburn, who is often a customer’s first experience with Materialise.
Hello Cheryl. Can you tell us a little about your role at Materialise?
Yes, of course! I’m responsible for making sure customers coming to us for help get the right support, from the right people, to answer their specific questions and needs.
Sometimes customers have a fully formed brief and a specific part in mind, while others simply have an idea that 3D printing could help their business in some way but are not quite sure how. In both cases, it’s my job to quickly understand exactly what’s required and advise on how we can help. Then - if the customer in question wants to progress - I make sure the right internal team has all the information they need to progress that customer’s journey as seamlessly as possible.
You are frequently name-checked as someone particularly easy to work with. What’s your secret? How do you see a company become easy to do business with?
Well, let me just say how much that means to me — I love that I’m helping people! But I also have to confess there’s no real secret. I think it’s that our approach to customers is embedded in our culture. A culture that is very caring and open. And that’s all based on really listening to what a customer is hoping to achieve, understanding their specific set-up, and being very honest about how we can help.
For example, an existing customer might contact me about having to reduce their lead times on a specific part and ask if we can help? Before I say yes, I make sure that I fully understand what might need to be adjusted to make that happen, communicate that to the customer, and ensure that I’m very clear about the delivery times we can commit to.
We’ll never say ‘yes of course’ just to make a sale. If either the quality will suffer or there’s a risk we can’t meet the new lead times specified, that’s not acceptable. We put effort into finding solutions that work. As a result, we get fantastic customer feedback about delivering on both quality and timely delivery.
I have a very technical OnSite customer who calls me ‘Mrs. Reliable’. Not because I can always fit in his urgent projects (though I usually do!) but because he knows if I really can’t help, I’ll say. It’s a very human approach. In fact, I think that’s it. Why do customers enjoy working with us? Because we are honest, helpful, and human.
How else do you think this ‘human’ approach is evident in how Materialise works with customers?
It’s everywhere. And it comes from the top down. Fried, our CEO, is such a good leader because he encourages the company and everyone who works here to make a difference. That might sound clichéd but when it is backed up by action — tangible mechanisms for making that difference — it becomes something I think customers see, respect, and benefit from.
Sometimes it’s me, seeing that someone might be struggling with an order and quickly picking up the phone to see if I can help. Sometimes it’s one of our engineers suggesting how part performance could be achieved with design alteration. Or the company as a whole dedicating time and research to making 3D printing more sustainable. It all comes down to us truly caring about the projects we work on and the companies we work with.
So do you think the survey shows customers value ‘care’ over and above everything? Is this the key to being ‘easy to work with’?
I think it’s more accurate to say that other qualities and services are enhanced by the fact we care.
For example, over 75% of respondents in our customer survey said they were very satisfied with our professionalism. That is all very much down to the fact that everyone they encounter here cares about delivering the best outcome for that specific customer — even to the extent that we have no problem saying, “actually, for what you are looking to achieve in this instance, 3D printing isn’t the right fit”.
Other qualities and services are enhanced by the fact we care.
- Cheryl Blackburn, Inside Sales Officer at Materialise
We make sure we have a full grasp on a customer’s business in order to offer the right solution. We take the time to profile their exact needs because we care what happens next. The breadth and depth of expertise we have at Materialise means I can say with confidence that someone will always have the right answer — no matter the query. But if I don’t do my job properly, if I don’t care what happens next, a customer might not get to that person.
What I think is unique about this company is that I’m not the exception. Everyone thinks like me. They might not all talk as much as me…I do like to chat. But they all care like I do. And that’s what customers value.