The Award recognises those companies which are constantly striving to exceed customer expectations, and ensuring that customer-centric thinking should receive more focus in manufacturing.

The winner of this category demonstrated improved customer service excellence and resourcefulness based on the specific customer requirements.

Of the three entries for this category, there was one company that stood out – and that was VescoPlastics.

The VescoPlastics story goes right back to 1968, when founder and chemical engineer Alain Francois Leger began researching the potential for polymer-bearing materials in the gold mines of the Orange Free State – a harsh environment characterised by dirty and wet conditions. Fifty years on, VescoPlastics is South Africa’s leading manufacturer of low-friction, low-wear, polymer-bearing materials for a wide range of industries in over 100 countries across the globe.

The challenge for the company was to reduce dispatch times for clients. Its current target was to have 60% of its orders dispatched within one working day (24 hours) of receiving an order, and having 90% of its orders dispatched within three working days (72 hours). These targets were not communicated to or promised to clients, however, so when exceptional delivery times were experienced, this was seen as exceeding client expectations rather than meeting them.

Customer service award 2019

The intervention anticipated that VescoPlastics’ marine customers would find it most beneficial since a marine breakdown means a loss in production and lost earnings, as well as dry-dock occupancy fees.  However, all customers, rather than only marine customers, were targeted as part of a general dispatch-urgency project.

The intervention to reduce dispatch times was focused on VescoPlastics’ export customers, which comprise more than 50% of its sales. These customers can experience delays in receiving their orders if any aspect of the supply chain is not adequately managed.

Although it would appear that reducing dispatch delivery times may appear to be a small part of customer service as well as the entire customer experience of interacting with VescoPlastics, it is believed that this intervention was important in reinforcing a culture of customer service and one of the key aspects of the customer experience that required improving.

There was an increased level of sales in the 2018 period as compared to the 2017 period. However, it is difficult to determine whether and how much of this increase was due to reduced dispatch times since many other interventions may have played a role in VescoPlastics’ improved financial performance.  It may be noted that, whilst many companies in the same manufacturing space were reporting major downturns due to the overall economic situation, this was not the case for VescoPlastics, where their sales were holding strong.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the richly-deserving Winner of the 2018 Customer Service Award of the Year is —– VescoPlastics. We are delighted to present the Award to VescoPlastics and heartily congratulate the company.

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