This year, satisfaction among Metsä Fibre's customers was studied differently from before: instead of being interviewed, customers gave a rating to sawmill operations and commented freely on their chosen topic through an email survey.
"We received a great deal of good feedback, and the feedback from our key customers was better than average. I feel that we have succeeded in building and developing our services and operations," says Saku Pänkäläinen, VP, Timber Sales.
Active customer service
This year, the opportunity for free-form comments was reflected in the increased amount of written feedback. In addition, various groups of employees were more diversely represented among the respondents than before.
"Customers were very honest about what they value in us, but they also provided detailed feedback on our development needs. For example, we now understand better what customers expect from us in Japan," says Pänkäläinen.
Metsä Fibre has had its Asian sawn timber sales office in China for years. This was reflected in the feedback from Chinese customers, which was above average. Local service seems to be an important customer service channel.
"We will focus on a more proactive approach to customer service. Help and solutions can be provided before any actual problems emerge. This already works with our key customers, but there is room for improvement with our smaller, but equally important, customers."
The positive feedback was mostly related to product quality. Pänkäläinen is very pleased with this, as quality is an important criterion.
"The responses were even more positive than we had expected. We stand out from other operators despite the fact that our industry deals with bulk products. Customers see us as a high-quality producer, which also is a great success for us."
Reliability was also a significant and frequent reason for good feedback.
"Our customers feel that we deliver on our promises. We keep our promises even if the market changes. Overall, the entire Metsä brand has a good reputation."
Pänkäläinen emphasises that all feedback is valuable and any issues are actively addressed. For example, last year the survey revealed that the areas of responsibility of Metsä Fibre's employees were unclear to some customers. These have now been changed actively, new people have been hired, and service centres have been further developed.
These aspects have also been developed based on feedback, and they are now clearer from the customer's perspective. In addition, active communication about matters related to sawmills within and outside the company has improved significantly.
"Day-to-day supervisory work and management are significant factors in terms of implementing various improvements, although our salespeople are also expected to play an active role. Encouragement within the company, a more structured operating model and the active monitoring of the implementation of plans are crucial for operations."