Open feedback builds strong partnerships
UPM Pulp’s regular customer surveys provide valuable input for the continuous development of products and services and in ensuring customer satisfaction.Through customer surveys, UPM Pulp is able to deepen its knowledge of customer attitudes, thoughts and perceptions. Surveys have provided valuable insights to help further improve the company’s standards of excellence and offer a tool for continuous development that brings an external customer dimension to performance management.
UPM Pulp conducts a survey twice a year to measure customer satisfaction. The survey has been carried out in its current form for three years and this is sent out to around 500 customer contacts. According to Miikka Kangas, Senior Manager Commercial Development, Pulp Sales at UPM Pulp, the aim has been to keep the survey light and simple, with only two main questions. The first of these refers to the global NPS (Net Promoter Score) metric, allowing for industry benchmarking and providing a target for development.
“We ask customers how likely they are to recommend UPM Pulp to their friends or colleagues, and how well they consider us to have performed compared to the pulp industry in general with regards to certain criteria. These include pulp quality and service, handling exceptional situations, and listening to and understanding customers,” Kangas explains.
The latest NPS score was 46, comparing well to the benchmark average of 39. However, UPM has set a target NPS score of 53, which would place the company in the top 25% within the industry.
Combining general satisfaction and topical issues
Although the survey is mainly a “happy or not” type of questionnaire, additional feedback can be provided to open questions on how, in the customer’s view, UPM Pulp could improve on each of these issues.According to Kangas, one of the most common topics touched upon in open comments is the need for more communication, which he admits is something where you can never have too much. The survey also includes a region-specific question that may vary between surveys.
“In the latest survey carried out between October and November 2023, we asked customers in Europe about their experiences concerning the performance of our customer service, while in the APAC region the additional question concerned the digitalisation of services and solutions. Perhaps an upcoming question could be related to the ramp-up period of our Paso de los Toros mill and how we have lived up to customer expectations concerning communication of the different phases,” Kangas says.
Follow-up in dedicated customer teams
Run for about two weeks in more than 20 languages, the survey typically reaches a response rate of around 30-40%. The NPS score measuring customer loyalty has remained at a stable level – with the notable exception of a drop in the curve in 2022, when UPM suffered from industrial action in Finland.
“This was a completely understandable reaction, but we luckily recovered from the situation rather swiftly. This was reflected in very few mentions in open comments in the following survey after resuming normal operations,” says Tomas Wiklund, Senior Vice President, Pulp Sales at UPM Pulp.
Wiklund emphasises the importance of the survey in the constant development of UPM Pulp’s offering, as the feedback is not anonymous, and can thus be responded to promptly and precisely. UPM Pulp’s external research partner provides analysis and conclusions on the survey results, which are examined on both a global and regional level. Analysis is also carried out in customer teams, and corrective actions are taken where necessary.
“Our customer teams follow the results according to each customer and see if we have managed to follow the path of continuous improvement, or if there is some issue that stands out and requires addressing immediately,” Wiklund notes.
Feedback makes a difference
Considering the attributes that customers value most, quality takes the top spot with a clear margin, followed by customer service then reliability in third place. According to Kangas, a positive signal is also that around half of the respondents are regular participants in the survey and they are committed to delivering feedback repeatedly.
“I would like to thank all our customers for their active participation and urge everyone who hasn’t yet responded to take part in our next survey. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us and truly makes a difference in further strengthening our cooperation,” Wiklund concludes.