Gate Changers

Gate Changers

Customer feedback helped develop the Gate Change Program improving customer satisfaction

Product quality and customer satisfaction go hand in hand. Saskatchewan Minerals already has one of the industry’s most rigorous quality management systems in place at their end, but it’s the feedback from the customer’s end that provides the most important measure of both quality and customer service.

“Our customers are paramount in identifying problems and areas that need improvement,” says Anita Stettner, Regional Accounts and Logistics Manager. “Whenever our customers have something to say, we listen very carefully.”

Responding to customer needs

The Gate Change Program was implemented as a direct result of listening to customers and responding to their needs. Paying close attention to trends in feedback over a period of time, Saskatchewan Minerals saw both a problem — and an opportunity — to improve their customers’ experiences.

“We received a number of comments related to our gates, including gates that were difficult or even impossible to open, as well as reports about compromised product,” says Stettner, explaining that because the product reacts very negatively to moisture, properly functioning gates, seals and hatches are crucial to maintaining product integrity.

Constantly improving

With their continuous improvement mindset, Saskatchewan Minerals put a program and budget in place to replace 26 bottom outlet gates and to repair hatches as necessary. Without customer feedback, these problems may not have been noted and the improvements may not have come about.

“A loaded gate reacts very differently than an unloaded gate,” explains Stettner. “Even though we do gate checks at our facility, when you add product to that and then subject it to weather and transit, problems can surface at the receiving end.”

Customer satisfaction and superior product

Ultimately, it comes down to not only producing the highest quality product, but also providing a better-delivered product to the customer. Though the program is ongoing in 2012, the Gate Change Program has already had a significant impact on customer satisfaction, helping the company achieve its objectives of providing superior products, value and customer service.

“Feedback on the Gate Change Program has been awesome so far,” says Stettner. “The customers we’ve gone out and spoken to have let us know that since we’ve been changing these gates, the problems they were experiencing have disappeared.”

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(Click here for a gate line diagram)

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