Customer Service and You
It was a very bad football season for the local college. The phone rang at the ticket office, “I have a ticket for this Saturday’s game–when does it start?” the caller asked.
The reply, “When can you get here? We’ll wait for you.”
Life can be tough and lonely when you’re losing. It’s better to be a winner. We may have to adjust our strategy. Circumstances alter conditions–sometimes we set the starting time–other times, we adjust.
In today’s global and rapid-changing environment, flexibility is vitally important. Are you adjusting to suit your clientele? Do we understand our customers? Knowing your constituency and adjusting to them is vitally important to the success of your ministry or project. Don’t wait until you’re down to one loyal ticket-holder to make understanding your customers a priority.
Without Energy, Not Much Happens
The letter was hand delivered by the Domtar Paper Company sales rep. It read, “Dear Valued Customer: Effective with shipment July 1, 2008 . . .”
Five bullets followed. Each referred to specific rate increases from $2.00 per cwt to $4.00 per cwt along with a minimum shipping charge for less than a truck-load increasing to $300.00 per shipment.
What’s causing paper price increases? A truck-driver friend told me about how many thousands of less trucks are on the road since the price of fuel started going up. Most economists consider higher fuel costs a natural consequence of increased demand for energy from developing countries such as China and India. In addition, pressures on energy prices come from the devaluation of the US dollar, long-standing restraints on American drilling and exploration, restrictions on American refineries, and a generation of limitations on American use of alternative energy sources such as nuclear. These issues have made the price of energy go up faster than a rocket at a NASA launching.
Is this temporary or permanent–will the price of energy continue to increase? Will government policies improve or exacerbate the problem? Most economists who don’t have a political axe to grind would agree that government policies, especially those related to environmental regulations, over the past 20 years have helped bring us to this point. We are presented with a dilemma between energy use and costs and global warming. Some important facts: If global warming does exist and is truly caused by mankind’s energy use, America is not the only source, nor the largest source of the problem. While we attempt to slow the use of energy in developed countries, it is generally considered an altruistic goal to increase the use of energy in undeveloped countries. Energy use is tantamount to wealth and development. You cannot enhance a country’s living standard without allowing that country’s inhabitants to use more energy. Development is tied to access to goods and services that are tied to roads and shipping. Improved living standards are also coupled to better housing, electricity, communications, and transportation.
I don’t propose to have the answers to all of the issues related to the inflation of prices connected to energy, but only state, “Beware of politicians and others who promise simple solutions.” The recent biofuels conundrum is a good example. American politicians subsidized ethanol fuels and created a market with tax payer’s money that shouldn’t exist. An unanticipated (but economically predictable) consequence was an increase in corn prices. The laws of supply and demand work every time. If you think you can impact the high cost of corn by eating less roasting ears and popcorn this summer, forget it. All you need to do is read the labels of products to see how pervasive is the use of corn syrup. Corn-feed beef, pork, lamb, etc. is also ubiquitous. The policy of subsidizing food production to generate energy has influenced world-wide prices of grains thus helping cause the increase in food prices.
Rising energy prices create a market whereby two things will happen. One, there will be creative ways to lower what individuals will pay for energy that will include everything from developing ways to get more miles per gallon, driving less miles, stealing more fuel, using more public transportation, carpooling, taking less trips, etc., etc. Two, there will be a push to get more energy to the market place through more oil, development of alternatives to oil, and other ways to provide the energy necessary to meet the demand. There will be political efforts to guide this search for energy profits away from nuclear (it is too risky), away from coal (it is too dirty), away from wind (they are just high-powered bird blenders), away from hydro (it is too damming), etc. There will be efforts to create exotic fuels such as the hydrogen fuel cell engine, etc., but those energy producers will likely take generations to become economically feasible.
We are likely entering an age of more expensive energy and will just have to pay more for what we use. There will likely be adjustments in our lifestyle as we adapt to a world of higher energy costs and higher energy use. Times are going to be interesting. Be prepared to pay more. Be prepared to adjust your lifestyle to use less. It may mean that some of the centralization of production that has been occurring for decades will revert to more local production of products. That may be a good thing. For example, we are now bidding on printing jobs that heretofore were printed in Europe.
By 1985 it was apparent the buildings on Elm street were being used to their capacity. Construction began in 1988, for the current location at 2000 Evangel Way. October 1989 the plant was completed and merging of the Print House, Christian Light Bookstore administration offices, Evangel Publishing House, and the Sunday School Literature division into one location was finalized. To this day we are all under one roof, we are your one stop for any printing needs.