Tech Transformation Podcast: Newell Brands’ Sigrist and AWS’ Honaman On Data-Driven Customer Service


In this episode of Tech Transformation, we’re getting back to basics (in a way). We’re talking about data-driven customer service with Steve Sigrist, VP, customer service, at Newell Brands, and Justin Honaman, head, worldwide business development, consumer products, food and beverage at AWS. We’re digging into some of the biggest consumer behavior changes that are impacting customer service operations today, and we’re talking about some of the technologies that are most important to brands and retailers to meet these new needs. 

Listen to learn: 

  • Some of the biggest consumer behavior shifts impacting Newell Brands and other consumer goods companies
  • How brands and retailers are adapting to meet these new needs
  • Some of today’s biggest pain points
  • How brands are using 20/20 hindsight to prepare for tomorrow's consumer on behalf of their retail partners


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On adapting to meet new consumer needs 

Sigrist: “I'm going to go back to just the most basic: execution, things that we looked at in the pandemic from the very beginning. Do you have enough people in your manufacturing site to produce the product? Do you have enough people in your distribution sites to pick, pack, and ship, and get things ready? … Do I have the basics right? Do I have the processes right? Am I synced with my customer — and their customer — on when activity is going to take place? 

“So I've got to put more emphasis on the planning stages, more emphasis on the execution, measuring that closer than I've ever done before. Global visibility to where something is with our supplier: Where is it on a boat? Where is it in our manufacturing process? Where is it inside of our shelves? Where is it with our carriers? And when's it gonna land in front of the consumer?  All of that stuff was important in the past, but it makes such a huge difference today, when you're able to look inside every little nook and cranny of where execution activity is taking place.”

Honaman: "There's a whole new opportunity and need for the whole connection space, like information on product, where I can buy it, taking support calls from merchandisers and route drivers and stores that have an issue with racks or shelves or out-of-stock. There's a whole new opportunity for this whole, let's say customer service, as Steve was saying, and the customer could be a consumer or a retail or even your own people, like your field sales and operations people. We're seeing that in the last 6-12 months, that's really been a hot area, which is surprising, right? Call centers, old news — not so much. … 

“It all ties to data, though. If you don't have data, you can't see if the product is on the boat, on the shore, on a truck, at the warehouse, in the distribution center. What's old is new. Data and analytics is still, and will continue to be, hugely important to enable things like consumer insights, manufacturing, supply chain.”

On doing things differently 

Sigrist: “One of the developments that we've recently implemented, and it's been in the works for about a year, is a project where we're converting our legal entity structure into one single company across North America. So we're consolidating our network. We're making it where a customer with one purchase order, with one shipment, and with one invoice, can get that variety. We’re building a network today, [and] we're consolidating some of those brands together to ship together. 

“But we ultimately have a vision [for] our top customers who buy these top brands, and we want to find those operational improvement efficiencies and ordering efficiencies for them, and ultimately, just the way that gets delivered to the store and distributed to the shelf. Just a very updated, modern — for a company that's 100-plus years old — new way to distribute our products. 

On the shifting consumer goods industry

Honaman: “I'd say over the last literally 3-6 months, we're finally seeing actually some interest again in the consumer. While supply chain is so front and center, digital manufacturing, industrial IoT, supply chain visibility, digital twins, all the buzzwords — that is still important, but actually the last couple of weeks and months, a number of our customers are investigating new and different ways to connect with consumers again. So I think that's actually pretty exciting, and that's where you're seeing some of the tech come in to enable that.”


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