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Service Centers Rate the Mills

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Customer Satisfaction's a Journey, Not a Destination Which mills get the highest marks from their service center customers? Jacobson & Associates has the data on customer satisfaction. By John Jacobson, Jacobson & Associates True for both mills and service centers, achieving high levels of customer satisfaction takes constant attention and effort. Maximizing satisfaction is a matter of performing at ever-increasing levels in order to meet ever-increasing customer expectations. Some organizations are more effective than others in keeping customers satisfied. Jacobson & Associates conducts a continuous census survey of more than 2,000 major steel customers in the United States and Canada, including service centers and end-users. The Jacobson Survey stands as an objective third-party measure of steel customers’ satisfaction with their mill suppliers. Customers use a 10-point scale to indicate their level of satisfaction with supplier quality, delivery, price, service, inside sales, outside sales, and overall performance. Jacobson produces separate reports on sheet producers, plate producers, minimill producers, stainless sheet producers, bar producers and beam producers. The accompanying charts are based on survey data for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2013. To highlight one piece of data, Chart 2 shows which mills have achieved the greatest increases in customer satisfaction over the past year. “Most improved” does not necessarily mean best performance. Rather, it indicates which companies were above average in closing the gap between mill performance and customer expectations. Among sheet producers, U.S. Steel had the most mills in the “most improved” category. Here is what some customers had to say about USS, clearly showing high levels of satisfaction: • “USS is our major supplier because they move things around well and their material gets here on short notice. USS has very good people who do everything they can to help me.” • “USS SteelTrack is very helpful. More user-friendly websites, similar to SteelTrack, is what I would like from mills.” • “USS does an overall great job, to the point that we are not looking at other suppliers.” Among bar/structurals producers, Nucor had the most mills in the “most improved” category. Here is what some satisfied customers had to say about Nucor Bar: • “Nucor is our major supplier due to proximity, very consistent deliveries, and great service and price. Nucor is very customer oriented, and we have a great relationship with them. Nucor has a great product, is very easy to work with, and has done a great job supporting us.” • “Nucor acts responsibly and gets what it means to “Take Care of the Customer.” If you hang with eagles, you are going to fly. Nucor will always be our mill of choice.” Satisfaction leaders tend to display common characteristics that make customers want to do business with them, including their dependability, quality, reliability, helpfulness, service orientation and product availability. Those that are the most persistent in monitoring customer satisfaction tend to be the most successful in the long run. [John Jacobson is president of Jacobson & Associates. For additional information, visit, call 847-735-7250 or e-mail]

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