Unismack & Excellence
Interview with Angeliki Petsa, Unismack’s Customer Services Director, by Natalie Sanderson.
Excellence is a common term across multiple industries. How does Unismack define excellence?
‘Excellence’ is at the top of the agenda for almost every business and industry sector right now. Terms such as ‘excellence’, ‘continuous improvement’ and ‘quality’ have arguably been overused by businesses in the past to indicate the essential, prerequisite or desirable strategic focus that all good organisations should adopt. The risk is, excellence becomes more of a ‘trend’ term, lacking any kind of substance or true meaning.
That is not to say that there isn’t value in striving to be excellent. For us, excellence sits firmly at the heart of our core values. It is what leads us and determines our actions and everyday language. It guides us towards using effective tools and methods, focuses our mind-set on measurable outputs and supports our confidence and passion to succeed. Striving for excellence is part of a journey with a continuous loop: initiate, review and enact.
As a business we are essentially people dealing with people; whether that is employees, customers, suppliers, or partners. Although that may mean we are susceptible to oversights, misinterpretations and challenges, we are very much dedicated to researching, listening and acting upon feedback coming from different sources.
What do you mean by ‘behavioural excellence’?
Essentially we provide food that consumers eat, which may affect their health. This brings with it a great responsibility for safety and quality standards. That in turn, means a continuous risk management approach, where our front-line workers have a primary role.
They are trained in and out of class in a systematic way, not just to follow the standards, but also to comprehend how these standards relate to the totality of a high-end experience for our consumers. So, the front-line workers themselves become active reviewers, they detect risks, they openly share their concerns and opinions about things that may go wrong and they have an influential voice in turning problems into opportunities.
Our management level Quality Improvement Team get together on a weekly basis to review results, set improvement action plans and positively reflect. In this sense, our quality and food safety operating systems are not technically excellent, but behaviorally excellent.
How does excellence provide opportunities to interact?
Customers provide an opportunity to interact as well as a potential learning curve for businesses to analyse messages and better understand what is important and what brings satisfaction. We connect with retailers, brand owners, distributors and sales agents to build a Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which leads not just to revenues for the business, but to a long lasting, healthy relationship.
The core of this relationship is to bring personalised product concepts to market that make consumers happier. We work towards being consistent in our reviews of feedback from our customers and we aim to be realistic in our promises and honest in how we manage non-conformities, which are inevitable in any business sector. We aim to provide a holistic service built on integrity and accountability. More than 70% of our customer base have been working with us for more than half of our company’s life.
Where does excellence fit in terms of people?
We aim to provide a working environment where people feel inspired, content and professionally challenged. Challenges at every level are multiple and stressful, but a great outcome when the whole team is onboard in an aligned way.
We are following a project-based approach: we create teams around a goal and we appoint members from different organisational disciplines and roles to participate. By doing this our actions are aligned and the work of employees working on various parts of the project are not undermined by the work of another. A project could be a commercial request for a new product development, a new launch with a new partner, a supplier onboarding process, a changed manufacturing process etc.
How does excellence have the power to influence?
Excellence should bring a positive influence to our employees’ lives. We make snacks that taste great, but are also healthy and nutritionally rewarding. The philosophy behind what we do is to provide a window into aspiring our own producers, such as encouraging our employees to follow a healthier lifestyle. There are many more bright examples of people who have been working with us for many years that were transformed into advocates of vegetarianism and flexitarianism, brought exercise and sports into their life, lost weight, started making healthier food choices and embraced more wellness activities.
Paving the way to excellence requires tools and systems but primarily it is about modelling the right behaviours. Ours is a passion to produce the ‘great’ against the ‘very good’, to be curious, to reinvent, to relate to people with integrity and inspiration and to share that positive influence.