Building a good relationship with customers and creating added value. That’s what Michael Alfers-Edler (31) and his front office team of Heras Germany work hard to achieve every day. His challenge as head of the department? Ensuring front office employees always have up-to-date knowledge.
‘I’m in charge of a team of seven employees at the front office. We answer phone calls and e-mails from (potential) customers,’ says Alfers-Edler. ‘I think it’s important that we provide people in the line with thorough information and have sufficient product knowledge.’
In six years working for Heras, Alfers-Edler has gained a wealth of experience. ‘I know the products and because I still have regular contact with customers, I have my finger on the pulse of what they think, feel and need.’ In his spare time, he can be found enhancing his knowledge, too. ‘Last year, I completed a business administration course alongside my job, which allows me to put my newly acquired knowledge into practice right away. So I’m not only developing myself, but influencing the development of my employees as well.’
One of his biggest achievements within Heras is a special project called ‘Wildkatzenzaun’. ‘Heras developed a special U-shaped fence in accordance with specific standards for the protection of wildlife. These kilometres-long wildlife protection fences have now been installed along Germany’s motorways. No other manufacturer is able to make this type of fencing. I’m proud that we have the knowledge and expertise to handle these types of projects.’
Besides working on special projects, Alfers-Edler ensures that his team has access to reliable and up-to-date information, so that they can provide customers with proper advice and support. ‘New developments in the market, news about internal changes and adjustments to products – all relevant information is bundled and shared with my team. Our customers can count on us to provide them with a professional answer to their question and a solution to their “problem”. Advice from our expert staff is the main reason why customers buy from Heras. We know we are not the cheapest option in the market. But price is often not a decisive factor that determines a customer’s purchasing decision.’
How does Alfers-Edler, as head of the department, ensure reliability? ‘Work consultations are used to discuss the previous week’s work. What went well and what could have been better? Do we have new information that could be of interest to other departments? By sharing knowledge we ensure that everyone in the company has the same information. We also handle complaints and look at how we can take internal measures to prevent such complaints from occurring in the future.’
Alfers-Edler is always open to feedback. ‘Receiving positive feedback from your staff and from customers is very motivating. It makes me feel even more engaged and committed to the things that I’m involved with. Of course, not all feedback is positive. I also get negative feedback sometimes, although I prefer the term constructive criticism.’ Improvement areas are dealt with as a team. ‘Do you have a good idea? Let’s see if it works!’ And what does our head of department do in his spare time? ‘Making music is a great way to relax after a day at work. I’m a member of a music society and a big band where I play the saxophone.’