First Choice

Confronting Business Challenges with Confidence

Matt Kiefer knows how important the knack for problem-solving is to the success of any commercial endeavor, including the global business at Rich’s.

“It pays to expect the unexpected,” says Kiefer, the marketing manager for Toppings & Icings and also Desserts in Rich’s Canada Division. “Our commitment to being the ‘Trusted First Choice’ for our customers is demonstrated in some ways by our innate ability to solve problems, including those that haven’t even surfaced yet.”

To enhance the quality of its client work and further boost its already-strong customer partnerships, Rich’s confidently takes a proactive approach to problem-solving. “We embrace times of challenge as opportunities to go the extra mile for our customers,” Kiefer states. “Success is earned by joining together to overcome hurdles, which strengthens both internal and external relationships.”

He explains that, while problems come in various shapes and sizes, Rich’s relies on some fundamental principles when addressing customer issues:

  • Use available resources to your advantage. Combine industry research and customer insights to inform your answers to the situation.
  • Listen to your customers. By fully understanding your customers’ needs and concerns, you gain their trust, which is an important piece of the solution process. Again, that inside knowledge can help you predict potential obstacles.
  • Don’t let preconceived notions interfere with or limit the organization’s quest for a resolution. For some creative problem-solving, challenge your associates to use their imagination and extend beyond conventional boundaries. Engage in some lateral thinking.

As an example of how customer satisfaction can be heightened by creative problem-solving, Kiefer recalls how his team in 2013 helped handle a tricky product launch by a large quick-service restaurant company in Canada. The chain wanted to expand its dessert menu, but there were at least a handful of hurdles to face, one of which revolved around the possible inclusion on the menu of cheesecake products made by Rich’s.

“When the dessert opportunity presented itself, we joined forces with our sales and customer marketing teams at Rich’s to identify products and flavors that were on trend at the time,” notes Kiefer, who served as project leader. “Our cheesecake items are popular in the U.S., but the idea of bringing them to Canada presented its own set of challenges, starting with the actual cheesecake formula that would be used.”

In addition, he explains, while Rich’s continuously strives to increase speed-to-market production, the time frame for the cheesecake introduction across all the customer’s Canadian locations was exceptionally aggressive. “Coming up with the idea was one thing, but executing the plan was another,” admits Kiefer.

It took tireless effort, dedication and ingenuity throughout the Rich’s organization to pull off the job in timely fashion, he says. “We pooled the resources of numerous functional areas within the company to help launch this product quickly, efficiently and successfully. Best of all, we were able to capture the specific cheesecake flavor profile the customer wanted, while keeping product price under control.”

Rolled out across Canada in mid-2013, the individually packaged cheesecake was enthusiastically received by consumers and continues to perform well. “When you implement creativity as a problem-solving mechanism, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish as a company,” Kiefer sums up. “The output is both impressive and rewarding.”