Customer Service Makes This Principal Perfect


What got Robert “Bob” Williams’ attention when he started working with Lumsden Corporation more than six years ago was the fact that they actually cared about their customers. “I originally came from a company that had to have everything their way. No matter what the problem was, they wouldn’t bend.”

Williams, BS&K Company, Charlotte, North Carolina, explains that Lumsden “is the first principal I had when I opened my doors, and they’ve kept me going. They are completely customer-oriented and focused only on providing what the customer wants.” That would appear to be the perfect fit, given Williams’ customer philosophy detailed on his website. “Ours is a long-term goal. Listen, ask questions, suggest and make recommendations. Even if it means not getting the order this time. Selling a product just for a sale is not the answer. In-depth product and application knowledge, honesty, accuracy, flexibility and a genuine concern for the customer’s best interest is our business.”

He continues that Lumsden “uses reps extensively and treats us as partners. They don’t do anything in the market without their reps. They treat me excellently and I enjoy working with them.”

If there’s any doubt concerning the manufacturer’s commitment to taking care of its customers, the company states its own philosophy on that subject pretty clearly: “Customer Service — We exist to satisfy our customers’ needs. All departments in Lumsden Corporation live by this principle.” And according to Pete Moore, Lumsden’s sales manager, they meet those customer needs with the assistance of their reps.

Three Decades of Experience

Moore explains that the company has been working with independent reps for more than 30 years and can boast that one agency has been with them for 31 years.

Just as any other company, however, there are occasions when reps have to be located to cover a territory or otherwise replace another agency. When that occurs, Moore says they’ve had good luck finding representation via ads placed in Agency Sales magazine. “We’ve just recently signed on two new firms we found that way,” he says.

When it comes to evaluating the reps the company wants to conduct business with, Moore emphasizes, “We’re always looking for someone with excellent product knowledge, but that’s not all. They can’t give up. They’ve got to exhibit a tenacity for working with customers, and specifically, customers in the food industry. Since that’s our specialty, the rep who has contacts with those customers is obviously desirable. It’s interesting that we’ve found that once you’ve got a good relationship with a customer in the food industry, they tend to stay with you forever. It’s tough to get new customers. That’s why contacts are so important to the rep and the manufacturer.”

After three decades of working with reps, Moore explains that Lumsden and its personnel have developed a keen appreciation for the fact that the rep has a lot on his plate. “We’ve been working with reps for a long time now. If anything, I think we’ve gained an appreciation and understanding of the rep and what he faces on a daily basis. It’s our policy to work well and closely with them, and it’s certainly counterproductive to fight with them. I think probably the most important thing we’ve learned is working to keep the rep’s focus on us and our products while at the same time understanding that they have a lot of other things to do. Just as other manufacturers, we want to capture as much of the rep’s time as we can. That’s why we work overtime to see reps immediately get answers to questions and plenty of support. We don’t want them to feel that they’re hanging out in the territory on their own with no support. We communicate to them the fact that we make an excellent quality product, and it’s a product that we’re proud of. We’re equally proud of the fact that we don’t make product mistakes and we complete our deliveries on time. Because we do that, our reps aren’t constantly walking into a buzz saw of customer complaints and problems.” He adds that while the company’s products are somewhat unusual and are generally custom-made, “We see to it that the reps get product samples and literature as quickly as possible.”

Moore sums up the company’s view of its reps when he explains, “Good reps can be very demanding of their manufacturers — but that’s a positive. It’s up to us to meet their demands. We look at our reps as the lifeblood of our company. Without them, we’re getting nothing done in the marketplace. We respect them, and we work hard to keep the great relationship we have with them alive. Our job is to provide them with all they need to do their jobs, and we’re here to answer all of their questions. We respect them and hope they respect us. We understand what they have to do to perform their jobs, and we hope they have the same understanding as to what it takes for us to do our jobs.”

End of article

Jack Foster, president of Foster Communications, Fairfield, Connecticut, has been the editor of Agency Sales magazine for the past 23 years. Over the course of a more than 53-year career in journalism he has covered the communications’ spectrum from public relations to education, daily newspapers and trade publications. In addition to his work with MANA, he also has served as the editor of TED Magazine (NAED’s monthly publication), Electrical Advocate magazine, provided editorial services to NEMRA and MRERF as well as contributing to numerous publications including Electrical Wholesaling magazine and Electrical Marketing newsletter.