Icing on the cake

Michael Coburn, Director of Customer Service, Nestle USA

The demanding owner of some well-known restaurant chains was running out of fondue and apricot grilling sauces. When the account manager could not be reached, a Nestle USA order coordinator stepped up to the plate. After conference calls and working long hours into the night, she solved the sauce shortage and kept the restaurants from running out. The coordinator drew compliments from the restaurant owner for her cooperation.

Stories like that tell how important relationships are to Nestle USA and Michael Coburn, director of customer service.

The customer is the No. 1 priority at Nestle USA, and building a personal relationship with him or her helps build strong partnerships. Each customer is assigned to a particular customer service representative and interacts through phone, e-mail and occasional personal visits.

To enhance the level of customer service even more, the company has launched the Nestle Xperience program, which sets up daily team huddles to focus on delivering customer service, sharing experiences and reviewing progress. It also lists non-negotiable standards/expectations for all new and existing employees, for instance: “Never say no ― always tell them what we can do,” and “Never multitask while dealing with a customer ― always be present/focused on the customer.”

These non-negotiable items are reviewed by job applicants to ensure that they are willing to follow the requirements. Applicants are also asked how they would react in theoretical situations to gauge how they would perform on the job.

All customer service employees take online courses each quarter geared toward continual training on world-class customer service. A grade of 80 percent must be attained to pass.

And to keep matters in focus, each employee has a Nestle Xperience-branded mirror in front of the phone to remind them that a smile can be heard through the phone and that the Xperience branding reminds them to continually look for opportunities to better serve customers.

How to reach: Nestle USA, Customer Service Department, (440) 264-5720 or www.nestleusa.com