CompoSecure has had to reimagine many of its processes and procedures to keep its employees safe, while keeping up with production goals and schedules during the pandemic. Project Managers are on the front line of customer care and are navigating this new normal. Meet Jennifer Ogrodnik, one of the Project Managers at CompoSecure.
It Starts Here
At CompoSecure, Project Managers (PMs) play a crucial role. They are the “interpreters” within the company, taking in the customers’ goals and aspirations for a metal card program then working with the design and production teams to determine timelines for samples and final product that work for everyone. Jennifer will tell you that for her and the other PMs, being the conduit between customer and the company is a role that requires trust. First, the customer puts their trust in CompoSecure and the PM to walk them through the design process and, ultimately, to deliver as expected and on time. But second, and equally important, is building trust between the PMs and the rest of the CompoSecure organization.
Awareness of metal payment cards has grown dramatically over the past ten years. Once only available to the super-elite cardholders, card issuers are now using metal cards to attract a broader audience who prefer metal cards as a personal differentiator. Card issuers see metal cards as a way to acquire new customers and increase customer loyalty. All of these factors are driving card issuer demand.
As an important connection to Sales, the PM team is responsible for understanding and getting to the core of customer needs and managing timelines. With new health and safety processes that have been put in place as a result of COVID, the role of the PM is even more critical. Setting realistic expectations to the customer, balancing and readjusting as priorities change, while providing world class service.
Getting Creative with the Creative Process
How do you establish trust in a new business relationship? Before March of this year, Jennifer would have told you about the face-to-face personal relationship she built with a new customer. She – and many other members of the CompoSecure team – flew thousands of miles, crossing state lines and time zones to get to know the customers and communicate CompoSecure’s understanding of their business goals. That in-person interaction was foundational to building trust.
Similarly, the design sessions between clients and PMs were also largely done in-person, where the look and feel of metal payment cards could best be shared. With the onset of COVID, CompoSecure had to get creative in how to continue the world class service they are known for. Virtual design sessions and other levels of prototype creation were developed to provide similar hands-on experiences clients had being onsite; a key step that customers need to make the buy decision.
It is always hard to adapt to new processes. Jennifer and the whole team are keenly aware of the pressures felt by the design and production teams and create ways to alleviate it. Advanced planning is one way that they are accomplishing this. The teams come together much earlier in the process to discuss plans, pool information and collaborate. Jennifer believes that the challenges brought on by the pandemic have actually boosted creativity, especially on the planning process.
Another unexpected benefit came from CompoSecure’s focus on employee wellness. Before COVID, employees would socialize during the workday with activities like daily lunch time walks, meeting out at the picnic tables for lunch or break, holiday/celebration parties. They had to find other ways to connect. “We have cross-functional Zoom meetings as a way to check in with one another and reinforce connection during a time when everyone is apart,” said Jennifer. These bonds provide opportunities to recognize co-workers’ struggles and achievements. “When you have a feeling of accomplishment, everyone shares that with you.”
Strength from Within Strengthens Throughout
Jennifer has taken this collaboration from the office to her community in Somerset. Late one evening, she created a chalk tapestry in the courtyard of her living complex, leaving voids where others can color in the gaps, and left a box of chalk encouraging others to come together and create art. When she woke the next morning, she was overwhelmed at how people were touched by this simple act in the midst of the pandemic. It lifted the spirits of her neighbors and brought them together, when they were all feeling so isolated. Jennifer understands the importance of building connections – whether that is with her neighbors, local businesses she supports or her co-workers and clients.
Just as CompoSecure has continued to grow and thrive despite the challenges, Jennifer is certain the strong co-operation between its employees and customers will endure after the pandemic, “We got stronger during COVID, and we’ll keep that spirit alive after.”
We as marketers have faced many challenges over the past months. Where we would like to develop and implement cool and innovative ways to communicate with our audience, we have had to think very differently. In a sense, we have become responders ourselves. Businesses responding to disruption rely on communications to make sure critical partners, such as customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders, know about changes being made. The messages being delivered need to strike the right balance between sharing relevant information, not divulging proprietary details and not overloading the recipients. In addition, strong and timely communication with customers demonstrates that we are in a “true partnership” versus a typical buyer and supplier relationship. Demonstrating and delivering your core values through communication to clients during a crisis can build a stronger foundation to grow the relationship over time.
At CompoSecure, we made a deliberate shift in our internal and external communications to refocus on the safety of our employees, customers and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all that safety consists of much more than security guards and secure facilities, and a strong record on workplace safety in terms of accidents or lost-time. Safety at its core principle encompasses the health and well-being of our colleagues, customers and the community around us, which has never faced greater challenges in modern times. We have leveraged instant communication tools that deliver messaging across multiple channels (e.g., text, email, phone, video) to deliver updates to employees and customers on critical issues affecting employee health and safety and customer needs in real-time.
The CX (Customer Experience) Factor
The best companies are those that know and understand their customers. Especially now, while customers’ needs and expectations have changed so much and so quickly, we are paying attention to what those changes are.
Our Global Sales team has identified the top 3 challenges our customers and partners from around the world face as they consider launching a new metal card program during the COVID-19 crisis, and how we are addressing them
Challenge #1 – Seeing is Believing
The physical experience –being able to look, touch and feel the unique qualities of a metal card –together with professional interpretation, is critical to understanding the appeal and value of metal cards. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes this more difficult. In addition, creative and design decisions take longer than usual because our popular in-house design sessions are temporarily on hold.
To tackle this challenge, we have created digital relationships with our customers. We are able to keep moving due to simplified metal card samples, videos of a card in action and team video calls. These techniques are proving far more effective than sending traditional photos or PDF art files back and forth.
Challenge #2 – Timeline
Supply chain challenges have impacted production timelines for many businesses. For CompoSecure, the timeline impact stemmed largely from design development. To offset any delays, our team came up with innovative solutions that shortened the timeline by using simplified prototype samples. We developed front-only samples, which highlight the design and branding of the customer. This sample type can be turned around much faster and significantly speeds up the overall production schedule, while still providing the customer with a sample that addresses their needs.
Challenge #3 Forecasting Accuracy
Due to high unpredictability, the majority of businesses in today‘s climate are experiencing a big challenge in forecasting accuracy. We had to adapt quickly and deliver new ways to accommodate last-minute changes in forecasted production quantities. For example, when one of our clients placed their launch order, they had to place an urgent follow-up order because the demand was more than 3X their forecasted quantities. We were better positioned to respond because we implemented shared weekly forecasts as a best practice with key clients that looked at current vault inventory volumes and observed changes in the acquisition, natural reissue and lost/stolen cards. This shared forecasting and outlook for the rest of the year were discussed by the client and CompoSecure teams every week to enable more nimble responses to changing demand.
Today and Tomorrow
Our most critical and challenging “marketing” task ahead will be navigating our business away from crisis communication to business-as-usual, whatever our business-as-usual eventually becomes, while maintaining the best practices highlighted above. Improved communication and data integration across the customer’s touchpoints, together with personalized and relevant content will enable us to be the most successful in delivering the optimized customer experience.