Interview with Forbo Flooring


What is your role at Forbo Flooring?

I am the head of technical operations for North America and Central America.  I handle education and training for the various outlets that come in contact with our product in the field: foreign dealers that sell the product, installers that are fitting the product and anyone involved with floor care and maintenance. I'm responsible for the training of our own salespeople, internal staff and technical reps and I also sit on the global technical committee for Forbo.


In what capacity have you worked with DScape over the years?

One of the challenges in my role is that the business has changed at a fairly rapid pace:  the communication outlets in our culture and our marketplace, and we’ve needed a partner to help get those messages out. 

For us-- and I’m sure for other companies too-- we needed a partner who could quickly grasp the unique challenges we face as a company. We're different than many companies, so we needed a vendor that had the capability to create media pieces that understand what we need for training and performance support, and for social media, a partner who could grow to possess detailed knowledge of our product.

That has been the real benefit with DScape. The people there have a very unique ability to immerse themselves and understand what the real challenges are for my business. The work has been geared at attacking the marketplace and getting messages out for our company through the use of video, social media, and front-edge web communication technologies. More importantly, they “get” our culture and know how various audiences' best learn.


What do you see in the future of your relationship with DScape?

I think what we have ahead of us right now is even more exciting than the past five years-- which is how long we’ve been engaged with DScape. We have become a much more lean organization in terms of the level of training and communication we put out in the field now.  We were always considered at the top-level in the flooring industry, but I think we've really been able to kick that up a tremendous notch through the relationship we've had with DScape.

We’re now using mobile communication technologies and new tools that we had no idea even existed-- or could exist-- before we saw them from DScape.  The future is mobile-- and DScape is there now and bringing us along nicely.


In your work with DScape, have you felt like the value that they provided was on the technical side, on the content side or was it just in the execution of good ideas that you already had?

Again, this is one of the great things, and it's always the challenge of finding those kind of relationships in the marketplace: someone that has a broad and deep sense in how they think about our needs and challenges. We had an idea of what we needed to accomplish, but how to go about accomplishing it was one of the big wins that was provided to us through DScape.  And yes-- they also consistently offer great new ideas and content approaches that we hadn’t thought of.  It’s the best of both worlds-- being able to take the idea, direct us, support us, and develop the content and technology.


Thinking about the next couple years, and the technology, specifically about your business and budgets, what do you think that you or other companies need to think about going forward?

I think one thing that's very clear is that as the economy has evolved. We can see this through examples of consolidation all around the marketplace. In just about every type of business, consolidation is the way of the future. That is really geared toward efficiencies, and saving money; it all comes down to dollars. It doesn't matter what business you're in, it's about spending as little as you for the maximum gain. For me, in terms of training, the one thing translated through is that it's really difficult for me to get people to add training into their day-to-day reality.

Many employees feel that when they stop doing what they’ve always done, they get off-balance, think that the money stops coming in their door, or they’re even a bit scared and out of their comfort zone; like they say about old dogs-- it’s always hard to get adults to learn new tricks. For me, the biggest challenges in how we need to evolve and adapt to the marketplace are that we need to be able to conduct or provide the information and training that allow those people that we're dealing with in the marketplace to not have to leave their day-to-day routines-- and to do it cost-effectively.

The most important thing we've learned through our relationship with DScape is that by massively leveraging the web, mobile devices and new content avenues, like social media, and being able to provide the basics and fundamentals -- creates the fertile soil for us.  It’s much more cost-effective compared to airfare, time, and travel.


Do you think DScape is on the front-edge of technology?

If you have no internet presence, then there's no way you can be an effective business; our business was behind that curve, to be honest.  But one of the things that have been really great with DScape, particularly with the experience and tools they have, like the new CloserConnect platform, is that we’re now operating with a whole different level of immediacy and closeness to our external partners-- and soon with our customers. 

To compete in the marketplace, in the flooring business, you have to be better, stronger, and longer-lasting. There has to be an immediate communication value and relationship value for us to separate ourselves from our competition.

We have to be more service-oriented, we have to be more responsive, we have to be more timely in all of the things we're doing. And no question-- DScape has moved us way down the field on that score.


What are the "nuts-and-bolts" of what you're doing with Closer?

We're using CloserConnect as an extra-LMS training tool for our internal people as a simple way to train them, and also one that they can also look at and reproduce, and use to train their clients. They understand how they can use that tool to collect information and duplicate that through the use of CloserConnect out to their clients. We're also using it as a vehicle for us to handle training claims, and then more training to avert claims going forward. Those are the two basic ways we've been able to use it: to get direct communications out to a client, to get a concept across, and to get an idea across internally to our own people.