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St. Croix Rod Merges Departments, Increases Customer Commitment -
Wisconsin-based family-run rod makers take legendary Superstar Service to the next level

Park Falls, WI (June 8, 2015) – Although the announcement of department mergers can often spell layoffs within large corporations, quite the opposite is happening at family-run Wisconsin, USA-based company St. Croix Rod.

Marketing VP Jeff Schluter says their recent strategic planning prioritized merging the company’s Order Center and Service (Warranty) Center into one cohesive team that would handle all aspects of consumer and dealer needs.

“Our intent is to provide an even greater level of service to our network of dealers and distributors, as well end users,” says Schluter.

He adds: “It’s going to mean that wholesalers and retailers will have more efficient contact with us. It’s not uncommon for a retailer to call, place an order, and then follow up on a service or warranty issue. Now, instead of transferring that caller, it’ll be handled on the same call.”

Of course, they needed to find the right person to head the ambitious and streamlined department, as well hire additional fishing industry experts with strong customer service skills.

After extensive searches and interviews, St. Croix hired Chris Raymond as St. Croix’s new Customer Operations Manager. Chris assumed his post on March 2, 2015.

Raymond is the former director of sales and marketing of a sports flooring manufacturing company, and prior to that, spent a decade as a customer service/call center manager with an information technology firm.

The Michigan native is also a lifelong multi-species angler with a well-rounded background in all things fishing. “One of my first memories is of catching a sunfish at age 3 and carrying it around in a wheel barrow for a couple days. I’ve been an active angler ever since: a little fly fishing but mostly walleye, salmon, trout, ice fishing and bass with a lot of time on the Great Lakes. And most of that time on the water has been with a St. Croix rod in my hand,” says Raymond.

Besides manpower, St. Croix has made significant capital investment in its physical infrastructure with a recent 1000 square foot build-out designed to house the team’s new Customer Center, which was also recently updated with an all new state-of-the-art call center management technology.

“ ‘Customer Center’ is the official name we’ve adopted for the new area of our company. We’re working on names for the two levels of staffers within the CC. Most likely, we’ll call them ‘customer guides,’” says Schluter.

Raymond says the Customer Center will become a one-stop shop where consumers and retailers will be served within one organized unit within the company, reducing call transfers and the points of contacts needed to address almost any issue. The team will address all modes of customer communication: phone, e-mail, and inquiries via web and social media.

“Our ‘customer guides’ will be able to place orders, make warranty claims, even recommend rods to dealers and consumers. Typically, on the consumer side, it’s predominately warranty and service while on the retailer side, it’s about rod selection and order placement,” says Raymond.

He adds that the Customer Center will also house a “determination staff” of two to five experts depending on the season, individuals who look at the physical rods that come in on warranty claims and determine the best course of action to repair or replace a rod and get that process started.

Extensive, formal training will be ongoing to ensure all staff are truly product experts, each well tuned to the fishing uses of all St. Croix products. “This will be a continual process as we launch many new products each year. But it will help us literally explain products more fully to our retailers and distributors,” says Raymond.

Jeff Crockett, Director of Sales, sums it up: “When your company is 65 years old – and you have as many rods in the field as we do – you spend a lot of energy and human resources to manage and handle service. But we understand just how important it is that we’re there when our customers have problems. Consistency is huge. Each customer is treated in a friendly, efficient manner, which we’re always mindful of. It’s really key for success. Our people are at the core of that.”

Within the industry, St. Croix Rod has built incredible company loyalty through excellent products and outstanding customer service. Obviously, by making this move, the company is trying to enhance that with fewer phone transfers, more timely response to electronic inquiries, greater product knowledge, and expanded service and warranty knowledge through customer guides.

qIn an industry haunted by empty promises, sounds like St. Croix is putting their money where their mouth is, and taking best-in-class service to the next level.

Photo : St. Croix Rod
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