Customers at the heart of new role

18 April

Chris Dillon believes being a good listener is the key to building strong and beneficial relationships.

And in the newly created role of Port Taranaki customer relationship manager, he has been doing plenty of listening during his first few months on the job.

“The port is such a diverse and multi-dimensional business – there are a lot of moving parts. It has a large customer base so listening to their concerns and ensuring their needs are being met is important. The success of our business is through the success of our customers,” Chris says.

A survey of port customers last year revealed that rather than communicating with multiple people across the operational and commercial areas of Port Taranaki, there was a preference for just one point of contact.

“One of our three company pillars is ‘customer intimacy’, and we wanted to build on that,” Port Taranaki CFO and head of commercial Allan Melhuish says. “Through this new role we want to get closer to our customers, ensure their needs are being met before issues arise, and also be proactive by getting into the market place, growing our business and attracting new customers through promoting what the port can offer.”

Having worked in the banking industry for close to 25 years in commercial and customer relationship management roles and, more recently, at Taranakipine as the markets manager for New Zealand and the United States, Chris has a wealth of experience.

Along with wife Sarah and sons Connor 13, and Ronan, 11, Chris moved from Christchurch to Taranaki in 2011 – post the earthquakes. While their home was not damaged, the disaster “gave us the opportunity to do something different”.

He believes there is plenty of room for customer growth at Port Taranaki and is initially targeting further development of the company’s log trade and greater utilisation of the dry bulk hub. There will also be a lot of focus on growing the relationships with existing customers.

“We want our forestry business to stretch further afield, to the likes of Whanganui and north into the Waitomo area, so it means getting out and talking to potential customers and telling them what we have to offer,” Chris says. “There’s also the opportunity to attract new business through enhancing our relationship with existing customers.

“Ultimately, it would be nice to look back in 12-18 months and see that we have further strengthened our customer survey result.”