Voice of the Customer Interview Series

Manufacturing Great Customer Experiences

Interview #1 with Sandy Schlesinger, Corporate Quality Director.

Head shots of Jennifer Zamora and Sandy Schlesinger

Manufacturing might not be the first place you look to discover CX opportunities, but positive and negative performance here can have a ripple effect from production sites all the way to the customer.

Being a customer-centric organization is a commitment that requires discipline, enterprise-wide alignment, and Customer Experience (CX) accountability spread across every member of the organization. By hosting this Voice of the Customer interview series, I’m shining a light on how the people inside our Company share a common passion while representing a range of disciplines – from manufacturing to supply chain, R&D and more – to deliver easy, enjoyable and effective experiences at every customer touchpoint.

Manufacturing might not be the first place you look to discover CX opportunities, but positive and negative performance here can have a ripple effect from production sites all the way to the customer. That is why I thought this would be a great place to debut our series, starting with Sandy Schlesinger, Corporate Quality Director.

Sandy joined Dow in 1984 and has held several technical and managerial positions in laboratory and quality management within our R&D and manufacturing organizations. In her current role, she is accountable for the corporate quality system and related product digital thread framework, including management system, work process, various production IT systems and tools to enable standardized product quality, manufacturing and laboratory management best practices across all sites and business portfolios. She is also a leading advocate for CX across manufacturing, aligning all ongoing work to deliver on our Easy, Enjoyable and Effective customer promise.

Jennifer: Welcome and thank you so much for agreeing to kick off our series, Sandy.

Sandy: I’m glad you thought of me, I appreciate the opportunity.

Jennifer: To start, why don’t you touch on some of the ways the manufacturing team contributes to Customer Experience and our customer-centric culture?

Sandy: Dow’s manufacturing team, also known as operations, impacts Customer Experience every day by ensuring availability of finished products that meet customer specifications and expectations. That may sound straightforward but given the size and scope of Dow’s production facilities and customers, it requires an incredibly complex and delicate balancing act.

One of the most challenging areas is coordinating production schedules, which enable on-time product delivery to customer locations around the world. We have a big responsibility to live up to our commitment to do our work right the first time so our customers can continue running their operations and keep their own stakeholders happy.

As issues or requests arise related to any aspect of product quality, our manufacturing team conducts a prompt investigation and responds to assure continued confidence in product effectiveness and fulfillment. We also stay close to the annual survey results to make sure we monitor feedback, identify strategic improvement opportunities and act as needed.

During the pandemic our operations teams had to lean on each other heavily as we partnered cross-functionally to respond to changing customer needs and market forces often beyond our control. Like everybody else, we had to learn in real time how to manage our professional and personal lives in whole new ways – and we navigated that uncertainty together. It continues to present challenges, but our team always finds a way to deliver. And we’re evolving to create a more agile culture that can maintain quality and reliability even in the most unpredictable times.

Jen: Absolutely, the pandemic impacted all of us in ways we could have never foreseen. Especially in our industry, we have seen an unprecedented digital acceleration to stay connected with customers. What role does digital play in empowering manufacturing to provide more compelling digital customer experiences?

Sandy: Our commitment to excellence is achieved through automation, standardization, and simplification or streamlining of the corporate digital thread framework. This includes use of standardized global work processes, state-of-the-art digital solutions, clearly documented management system policies and procedures throughout the product management process.

A digital strategy promotes synchronization and visualization of all available information, enabling us to detect and mitigate issues quicker and more accurately to meet customer needs.

We have over 100 sites, over 300 operating plants, tens of thousands of pumps and tanks, thousands of miles of pipe measurement devices ultimately tied to the execution systems in our production control rooms. Any one of those can take us down, so the key is to plan for the unplanned – to be resilient.

Jen: Meeting customer needs requires coordination across all disciplines. How does the operations team collaborate with other functions internally to deliver best-in-class services?

Sandy: Manufacturing is an important aspect within a broader end-to-end product management process based on partnership between our customer innovation experts like sales, marketing, product regulatory, research and development teams to clarify the precise customer requirements specific to the Dow products of interest.

We rely heavily on other colleagues to understand where to produce and deliver the ordered products on time, to the right location, with the right quality – and with safety as top priority – every time.

Closing Remarks

I want to thank Sandy for providing a glimpse into the well-oiled machine that is our operations team. Their commitment to make products according to the customer’s requirements, at the right time, in the right quantity always prioritizing safety and quality plays a key role in how customers experience doing business with us – and why they keep coming back.

Stay tuned for our next interview in the series where we’ll dive into the complex and exciting world of supply chain.