Kicking off National Customer Service Week with Insight – our visit to 2 Sisters Food Group, Pennine Foods
Regular customer site visits and building strong partnerships with our customers are right at the heart of Johnsons customer service commitment. That’s why, to highlight National Customer Service Week’s Insight theme, we were delighted to be able to make an extra visit to one of our valued food production customers - Pennine Foods in Sheffield, which is part of 2 Sisters Food Group.
Customer insight allows us to learn about a client’s business operation, about exactly what is important them, and to have more relevant conversations about the service we provide to them.
Here, our National Account Service Manager Faren Brown, who has worked with our client for three years, describes the extra customer insight he gained from being able to ‘dig deeper’ during this site visit opportunity. We hear from Darren Miller, the Site Hygiene Manager for Pennine Foods, about what makes a good customer experience and both talk more about how great client and supplier relationships are created and what a powerful lynchpin they are for good customer service.
Darren Miller, Site Hygiene Manager, Pennine Foods:
I have been working with Pennine Foods for over 20 years and for three years at this particular site. Johnsons Workwear provides the overalls for our staff. Great customer service, for me, is ultimately about the service and the quality. It’s about the relationships we’ve got with each other as well. For me, they all go hand in hand, and we’ve got all three.
The support that we get from both Faren and Sam our Customer Service Executive, and from the service team is great. For instance, we had an issue a few days ago when there was some confusion over a weekend delivery. So, I phoned Sam up and, within just a few hours, there was someone out with overalls to sort us out. That’s the service side of it, it’s great.
For me working well with people and being able to get a quick response is important. For instance, if I phone Sam or Faren up, or any of the guys, I always get a timely, well-mannered and polite response. I’d say 99% of the time, we do get what we want as a customer, which is great.
An efficient workwear service is a 100% vital for us to be able to function. If Johnsons Workwear couldn’t deliver on the service, we wouldn’t be able to produce - it’s as simple as that. However, thankfully nothing like that has ever happened.
Not only are they efficient in the service, the workwear is comfortable to wear. It helps with my job when I need to go onto the shop floor as I need to adhere to compliance when I enter that area of the site and the workwear is really clean. I’ve never had any issues with the overalls at all.
Johnsons Workwear National Account Service Manager Faren Brown:
Discovering even more about our client
On this special customer visit, I got to talk more about what they do as a business, who they supply to - they supply ready meals to Marks and Spencer - and the services that Johnsons Workwear provides to them.
We were taken to the changing rooms where we were able to see all of the workwear garments Johnsons provides in the stock room. On a tour of the factory floor, we had to adhere to hygiene standards and collect/put on the white overalls, along with wellington boots, hair nets, ear plugs and protective glasses. I got to find out what it actually feels like to wear our overalls.
Following this we had to go through the hand washing process (twice plus sanitizer) at two different points before entering the factory floor. Initially, we were taken on a tour of the delivery area followed by the different chillers/specific rooms where various ingredients were prepared to go through the cooking process. It was great to see that all ingredients were all freshly delivered and washed by hand before being put through the machines to be cooked.
In the low risk area, we saw the first few stages of various ingredients being prepared and sent through to the high-risk area. It was interesting to see the different areas for prep and cooking but also the length of the process for creating a ready meal.
Seeing the rigorous processes and procedures, undertaken by the employees, gave great insight into what Pennine Foods does in order to meet the wants and needs of their customers. It also added context to how imperative the service Johnsons Workwear provides for them is in supporting them in doing their day to day job. Our products and the service they receive from us is crucial in delivering the quality that their high-profile customers require.
I learned some new things about our client from actually being able to walk the floor. I was under the impression that foodstuffs were brought in ready prepared just to be repackaged into a ready meal. So, the biggest surprise, for me, was that everything was freshly cooked, which is a mark of the quality our customer provides to its customers.
I also learned that in the three years Darren has worked there, he has had eight technical managers to report to. Every technical manager will have their own individual opinion on garment styles and best practice; the customer’s business will always evolve as the food industry looks to improve standards; and they will always have to adapt to new health and safety laws and regulations. So, it’s good to know that through all the different managers and new food industry standards, the garments and laundry services that we provide have risen to their need throughout.
It’s all about the relationship
Having a strong and transparent relationship with the customer is crucial to providing a great experience. Everyone comes across new challenges and issues but what’s important is knowing we can work well together to resolve it. It’s my job to manage the relationship and make sure that we know enough about the individuals and the challenges of their business so that, if there is a bump in the road, we can offer realistic solutions and take the stress away. The more we understand our customers, the better placed we are when they are making choices about their workwear and provider. They need to know that they can trust us as supplier.
I always enjoy spending time with customers. It’s interesting to see what their challenges are, what their working environments are like. Food production is quite an interesting business, and the things you learn from one customer can help you solve issues with other customers.
For me, as somebody whose role is to deliver exceptional customer service, the three top tips I would have for achieving this are:
build a good working relationship with the customer and understand their business
take ownership of any issues and follow through with promises
when possible go the extra mile. It really makes a difference and lets the customer know that they are valued
Johnsons Workwear provides Pennine Foods with full rental, food grade garments
From our Leeds plant, we provide the client’s staff with garments, laundering them and returning them to site six days a week in cages to meet the service and compliance demands of this busy production site.
We need to be extremely flexible with this site, reacting very quickly to ensure that production has as little down time as possible. For instance, during a fire alarm evacuation everyone had to take off their overalls and put them in the dirty bin. When they had been given the all clear and went back in the garment stock was low. Our local operations team responded straight away, loaded up a truck with laundry that had been intended for next day and delivered this to ensure that Pennine Foods had no problems continuing with their production. We will always try and go the extra mile to help customers.