Locally Combating Globalization through Customer Service

November 4th, 2014:

You’re hard at work on a project when you have to stop everything to fix a computer problem. You call your computer manufacturer’s help line, where a technician diagnoses and helps you solve the problem. Pretty soon, you return to work. Do you realize that the technician who just saved your project may have been continents away?

You are designing a new-and-improved widget for the ever-exploding widget industry and you specify a bolt and a type of paint that needs to be imported from opposite sides of the planet.  But it doesn't matter, globalization is here and it is linking national economies.

On the flip side globalization is causing unique technical and architectural challenges for local economies and specific industries, the least of which is the engineering field. The growth of the global economy can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it gives nations the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs and to compete in a global market. But on the other hand, it becomes more challenging for a business to survive.  The pool of competition is vast and the playing field is wildly uneven.

For modern day trends and business strategies, I like to look back 10,000 years or more to our ancient ancestors.  In order to survive along the banks of the Nile in a small isolated tribe it was imperative for tasks to be delegated to those most capable to each task.  A group of women would raise the children, a group of men would hunt together, while others were in harvesting or had medicinal roles.  The guy who was best at making moccasins, you can bet, made everyone's moccasins.  This is the natural way of survival.  A hunter could waste a lot of precious hunting time by trying his hand at moccasin-crafting, while his family went hungry.  Unless he had the power to convince the others that what he was doing was worthwhile and would pay off for everyone.

In modern times, matching the best technical strengths in the world with the lowest cost is the essence of globalization. So with companies engaging in worldwide redistribution of labor and production, engineers in today’s workforce are starting to see the effects that the global market has on their jobs. 

For the world as a whole, I believe globalization is a good thing.  Once again, it's the natural way of survival and the best way toward the betterment of our species.

However, on a local scale and as far as business owners are concerned, it can be threatening.  The way to combat this threat is to, again, exercise the power to convince others that what you're doing is worthwhile and will be a contribution to the greater good.  In the US, where we stand out is not necessarily our manufacturing or engineering capabilities, but our customer service.  Excelling in the area of customer service can give your company the ability compete where maybe you are struggling.  Going above and beyond to understand a customer's challenges, answer their questions before they ask them, and providing unique experiences or magical moments for your customer are ways of providing over-the-top customer service and retaining and growing your customer base even in a struggling local economy. 

In other words, find out how you can convert your customers to raving fans and you will remain competitive where you have been undercut and challenged in other aspects of your business.

- Senior Mechanical Engineer Tim Johnson, Goddard Technologies