When the automatic doors open for Rene Crins, a smiling Andreas Kloss comes over to greet his customer. They bump fists like footballers do. They tease each other about how they look, their age, about the time that has passed without leaving so much as a trace. The two exchange joke after joke, laughing their way through the building as they head to Andreas Kloss’ office.
Andreas Kloss is Head of Market Segment catalogues at Mohn Media. He has a very close relationship with his customers. This has always been the case, but things used to be a lot more simple in the past. “We had the machinery and the customers had the products. That was it,” Kloss remembers. “You just have to say when the machine was free. The result was always the catalogue. The only question was how many they wanted,” laughs the expert, shaking his head. “Nowadays the competition has changed completely. It’s extremely dynamic and people increasingly want to be able to customise their printing – you can’t just rely on your fleet of machines and hope that will be enough. It’s about keeping wastage to a minimum. And that only works if we are familiar with our customer’s customers. We can only get to know them if we sit down together and discuss their needs.”
Nowadays the competition has changed completely. People increasingly want to be able to customise their printing.
Anyone who wants to understand must also listen (carefully)
Andreas Kloss sits in his office with Rene Crins, Vice President National Pen Europe & APAC. He has travelled over from Ireland to talk about how things are going. Their business relationship goes back many years, and they have developed a good mutual understanding. Kloss has a knack for getting others to talk. Because he knows that nothing is more valuable than understanding. After all, how can you talk to somebody if you don’t really know them? Understanding and being understood are profoundly human needs. Successful businesses fulfil these needs.
Rene Crins talks about what he would like: preferably, a special catalogue for every individual buyer – as individual as the buyer themselves. Andreas Kloss knows about the algorithms and the personality models. He knows the extent to which there are similarities between customers. That’s why he has a highly qualified team of employees providing background support. They evaluate profiles and analyse buyers. This led to the creation of a survey, which is used as a guideline for successful dialogue.
We can only get to know our customers if we sit down together and discuss their needs.
I want to walk in your shoes
The meeting has gone according to schedule. The atmosphere is relaxed. Andreas Kloss asks Rene Crins for a favour: “Let’s swap shoes! I want to walk in your shoes.” Crins laughs, bends down and unties his shoelaces. Then he takes off his leather shoes and passes them over to Andreas Kloss with a wink. Kloss slips them on. “They fit!” he says, and takes a few steps. Rene Crins runs with the idea and asks Kloss to sit in his chair. They swap perspectives and start a conversation with each taking on the other’s role. Kloss is Rene Crins, and Rene Crins is Kloss. Swapping perspectives allows them both to develop an even deeper understanding for the other. After half an hour, they are both very satisfied with the results and swap their shoes back again.
Let’s swap shoes! I want to walk in your shoes.
Back in the meeting room at Mohn Media, Kloss gathers together his closest colleagues and writes on the whiteboard in big letters: “Let’s take a walk in our customers’ shoes!”
Size of Andreas Kloss’ office: 40 m²
Size of the whiteboard: 2.4 m²
Internal meetings per day: approx. 5
External meetings per day: approx. 4
Litres of coffee drunk per day: 1.2
Litres of water drunk per day: 2.2
Calls per day: approx. 26
Of which are answered directly: 16
Of which are answered by the administrative office: 10
New ideas to improve the everyday process: on average 2
Of which are approved per implementation per week: on average 1
Shoe size: 42
Kilometres covered per day: at least 5