What does a proven market leader do to maintain its competitive edge? Nu-kote explains just how it has managed to stay in the vanguard of developments
Having set the standard of excellence in the aftermarket imaging supplies industry for years, Nu-kote International is raising the bar again with its innovative CustomerEdge initiative.
"The marketplace is evolving into a myriad of overlapping channels," notes Phil Theodore, executive VP. "As we observe ever-increasing trends – such as "Channel Blurring" and "Channel Grazing" – we realise that we have to continue to adapt and develop products that have a positive, meaningful effect on our customers’ lives – today, tomorrow, and in the future." To accomplish this, Nu-kote has instituted its multi-faceted CustomerEdge initiative. An advanced customer relationship management model for leveraging real-world end-user and partner insights to drive ongoing value and profitability. Grounded in ongoing end-user and partner research and marketplace analytics, Nu-kote is putting these insights to work in every aspect of their enterprise.
infrastructure for success
As a visionary consumer products company, Nu-kote continues to build on their extensive global infrastructure and advance their innovations and successes in research and development, information technology, manufacturing, supply chain management, product merchandising, recycling, and customer service. "The key, as we see it going forward, is to supercharge this proven engine with the high-octane fuel of our very customers’ real world needs and desires," observes Ian Elliott, Nu-kote’s Executive VP, new business and strategic development.
By literally putting the customer at the centre of their end-to-end Infrastructure for Success and focusing on the customer experience, Nu-kote is realising a new level of positive synergy within the marketplace. Elliott adds: "One outstanding example of this is the growing popularity of our customer-centric recycling programmes. Understanding more about end-users’ environmental concerns has driven initiatives that not only make it easy and beneficial for them to recycle, but to also appreciate one of our key points of differentiation in the marketplace."
The premise is quite simple. Evaluate everything you do against how it helps your customer – putting the customer first. Most organisations would agree that their customers are important, but few are structured to operate in a truly customer-centric manner.
Vision, leadership, and organisational buy-in are required for implementing the process changes necessary to succeed. Nu-kote’s senior VP, Aftermarket Sales Jerry Gigliotti points out: "One of the biggest challenges in formalising a "customer-first" management strategy is ensuring that everyone in the organization is on board." He continues, "Fortunately, at Nu-kote this has not been an issue. As an aftermarket supplier, our corporate culture – by its very nature – has had to be extra sensitive to the pulse of the customers. CustomerEdge simply formalises and strengthens one of our enduring critical success factors." To this end, Nu-kote has instituted multiple processes for effectively gathering, analysing, and applying customer insights in key areas such as attitudes and behaviors. This continuum of customer intelligence informs coherent strategic and tactical customer-centric execution throughout Nu-kote’s operations:
â€¢ Product development
â€¢ Product quality management
â€¢ Product distribution
â€¢ Product merchandising
â€¢ Product and relationship marketing
â€¢ Customer care and loyalty initiatives
â€¢ Recycling and environmental
focus on the customer
The market is speaking and Nu-kote is not only listening, it is analysing and responding. Focusing on the three key pillars of customer-centric
â€¢ Ongoing analysis of customer trends and attitudes (Know who buys "what" and "why")
â€¢ Focus on key points of differentiation and refine your offerings
â€¢ Differentiate, apply, communicate, and sell
"We have a solid track record of listening and effectively supplying the superior, high quality products that our market demands," says Dale Campbell, senior VP, operations. "With CustomerEdge, we now have a working protocol for leveraging greater points of immediate and future product relevance with our customers. To better act on this enhanced feedback, we recently expanded our world class Global Centre of Excellence for Research and Quality. This move alone is having an incredible impact on our product excellence and speed to market."
Nu-kote’s customer-centric focus is having a profound effect on its partners’ sales and marketing support programs – a level of support that continues to set it apart from many of its competitors. "Now we can effectively segment and differentiate our approach – from packaging, promotions, sales incentives, field support, and customer care programs to ongoing research and analysis." Notes Wynne Willis, VP of product marketing, "Bottom line, by better understanding our customers’ needs through focused end-user research, we can now provide more effective insight in areas such as appropriate product mix and promotions – ultimately driving stronger partner sales by delivering greater consumer value."