Do You Know the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Relations?

February 1, 2021

Federated Insurance
Executive Insights
Doug Johnson
Laurie Harbour
SSA video
VIDEO: State of the Automotive Supply Base
In this 8-min. video from the Society of Automotive Analysists, analyst Steve Wybo, of Conway MacKenzie, addresses the state of the automotive supply base. He shares his long-term outlook, offers some supplier strategy and describes the state of the capital markets around automotive.

“The banks have been very generous with the auto-supply base and, frankly, most of their borrowers,” Wybo says.  “The banks went into COVID-19 well capitalized, in a very good position…they have the ability to be patient. Most of the commercial lenders have been very friendly to the automotive supply base, which has allowed the supply base to weather the storm... and have the requisite working capital to relaunch as the industry came back.”

Want more on this subject? Here’s the Plante Moran Manufacturing & Distribution 2021 Outlook, including an in-depth look at recovery strategy and operations, and tax issues, including guidance on the handling of PPP loans.
Do You Know the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Relations?
Now more than ever (thanks, COVID-19!), managing customer relationships plays an absolutely critical role in building trust and loyalty among customers, and retaining them through these turbulent times. Here’s an article targeted toward small-business owners and managers who appreciate the value of strong customer relations and seek advice on how to improve, in areas beyond only the customer-service department.
“Customer relations includes the company's sales and marketing departments, as they interact with customers in numerous ways,” the article stresses.

Customer relations consists of two functions:
  • Reactive functions: Addressing customers' reported issues (replying to complaints, working with customer support).
  • Proactive functions: Building long-term relationships and establishing loyalty.
Several good lessons to be learned here.
New IRS Notice: Withhold, Make Payments of Deferred Social Security Taxes from 2020
In mid-January, the IRS released Notice 2021-11, addressing how employers that elected to defer certain employees' taxes now can withhold and pay the deferred taxes throughout all of 2021, instead of just through the first four months of the year. The taxes, called Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, are calculated at 6.2 percent of employees' wages and applies to employees earning less than $4000 every two weeks.
NIST is Working to Make Robots Easier to Use for Small and Midsized Manufacturers
This new Manufacturing Innovation Blog from NIST puts a fresh spin on the growing use of robotics by small to midsized manufacturers (SMMs).  That is, “The growth path for SMMs with robotics is, therefore, increasingly focused on applications and added capabilities,” says author Andrew Peterson, a general engineer NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Extension Services Division, “not just efficiency and continuous improvement. The key to increasing adoption of robotics in SMMs is making the robots easier to use and re-use.”

With all of that in focus, Peterson elaborates on project work at NIST to advance grasping, manipulation and safety performance.  “(While) assembly makes up only 2 percent of robotic usage,” says Peterson, “NIST researchers and industry experts believe that it holds much promise for widespread adoption among SMMs as manipulation technology improves.”

There’s a lot to digest here, including his “Keys to Success When Starting Your Robotic Journey.”
Purchasing New Equipment? Get a Grasp on TCO
When purchasing new equipment for your manufacturing company, be sure to account for the total cost of ownership across the full life cycle of an investment.  That’s the subject of this post by Dan Janka, president and CEO of Mazak Corporation. “Purchase price is only the beginning,” says Janka.  “For a more effective approach, calculate total lifecycle cost of a machine as the purchase price plus all other costs associated with running and maintaining that machine, minus the machine’s resale value. Resale value is one of the only ways to reduce the lifecycle costs of a given purchase after installation, and in the world of manufacturing, it can make a significant difference in TCO.”
Industry-Related Terms: Edge, E-Mail, Forming
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms



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