Listen to your customers! says Aquabest

Entrepreneur.com.ph. Photos by Jun Pinzon

Aquabest knows minding customer feedback is key in sustaining your business.

Among Entrepreneur Philippines’ Franchise Awards recipients for the past four years, the name Aquabest Purified Water repeatedly surfaces. Here’s one of the reasons: it’s from a company that puts such a premium on total customer satisfaction. The fact that there are now about 600 franchisees of Aquabest across the land seems to be a testament that its customers are happily patronizing the product.

Aside from its flagship brand Aquabest–which is one of the country’s top brands of water refilling services as well as a bottled water brand–Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies, Inc. (GQWEST) also offers water treatment products and services such as waste water treatment, industrial water treatment, filters and ionizers. Recently, it opened a laundry business which can be franchised on its own or in combination with a water refilling station.

Neil Delgado, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of GQWEST, reveals one value of the company’s having received the ISO 9001:2000 certification beyond bragging rights. Indeed, having to comply to ISO quality management systems standards means the company needs to live and breathe by those standards, including having to document every move, and meticulously measure every process, which results to continuous improvement of the company’s systems. And one of the company’s strategies for continuous improvement is closely monitoring customer feedback.

Delgado, who has recently been elected as the Vice President for Marketing of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI), explains: “Whatever system you have [now] is not perfect. So the idea is to get feedback [since] you may [not be aware that you are] lacking some procedures or processes that may improve your business operations? for you to be able to gain customer satisfaction.”

Apparently, customer satisfaction is not a one-time deal. Even a booming company should not focus on just profitability, and instead think about sustainability. He gives examples of some very profitable companies before that no longer exist now because they failed to foresee their product would be irrelevant in the future.

He also gives the insight that, some years back, the most premium hotels were designated by the five-star rating; but as customers’ experience, lifestyle and tastes evolved, five-star hotels are just not ‘good enough’ now. Hence, there are now seven-star hotels. Hotels that did not upgrade are the ones not able to keep up to speed with the trends.

“That’s why we keep on innovating and introducing products and services that would actually address the needs of our customers later on,” he shares. Continuous research in terms of the latest technological advancements in each area of service they offer is part of how GQWEST aims to provide the most innovative, scalable and affordable solutions to its clients. Equally important, according to him, is to adapt to change by improving their way of doing business, and continuously measuring and managing their business operations to maintain their sustainability efforts.

Delgado boasts that Aquabest is so far the only water refilling station franchise in the country that has a well-organized customer support services. “When you enter our main office, the first thing you’ll see on the ground floor is not the sales department, but the customer service department,” says Delgado.

The customer service-oriented mindset is being deeply ingrained among GQWEST staff through trainings, workshops and reinforced in the day-to-day implementation of best practices. Even their backroom office staff, such as the accounting personnel, are included in customer service training programs.

“We are continuously working to enhance the value-added services which include after-sales services. I would like to envision na yung Aquabest water refilling station natin would not be just like another water refilling station. I would like the customer to experience a different thing. Maganda yung sticker mo, maganda yung packaging mo, malinis ang store mo, your staff are polite and are trained well. And, for instance, you already know the pattern of how often a certain household orders water for delivery, don’t wait for him to call you, maybe you can surprise him and deliver without waiting for him to call. Yung mga ganun na service.”

Documentation, an important practice learned when the company adopted the ISO standards, is a huge part of their taking the customers’ pulse. “We are only able to achieve quality if we are able to measure it. So whenever a client comes here–normally they order accessories for their water refilling stations–we ask them to sign something, and we document how long they stay in our office, what products they buy from us, how many people come here in a day, things like that. Then we study and discuss those during our [management committee] meetings.”

To get regular customer feedback, the company makes a strong case for personal customer interaction wherever possible, and online communication and information exchange, “so that we can know the exact requirements of people and deliver the best and most accurate service,” adds Delgado.

To communicate better with its franchisees and customers, the company prepares to implement SAP by Q1 2010. “Presently, we are upgrading our IT infrastructure, and all our remote offices (our warehouse, superstore, and Davao office) will be connected through secured VPN.” In addition, the company gears up to get certified to the newest version of ISO 9001, that is, the 2008 version.

“What I learned is that the meaning of quality differs from time to time, because the demands of the customers change. They upgrade their lifestyle, their taste. A company needs to continue to evaluate and know the customers’ expectations. [Your customers’ feedback] is where you’re going to get an idea on how to improve, because if you just look inwardly, you’d think that everything is perfect. Then you will not improve,” ends Delgado.

Source : http://www.entrepreneur.com.ph

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s