February 22, 2017

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT SCIENTIST: WHAT’S IN A DAY?

By: Preetha Banerjee

In my role as an AFB International customer engagement scientist, I work on multiple projects—collaborating with customers and AFB team members daily. While my days vary dramatically, my goal is constant: Help AFB customers solve their pet food palatability challenges.

CUSTOMER FIRST

From a research and development standpoint, I lead and manage the day-to-day work related to a customer’s palatability challenges. Some key aspects of my work include:

  • Assessing needs. I work closely with AFB account managers to identify and understand a customer’s requirements related to their product’s performance and palatability benchmarks. I also strive to understand any process variables that might impact palatability performance, collaborating within AFB’s cross-functional teams and working hand-in-hand with customers.
  • Designing and conducting research. Based on a clear understanding of the customer’s need, I create and conduct tests on the customer’s product with different palatants to learn what best delivers the desired outcome. Creating palatants requires close collaboration with various AFB functional departments. Palatability trials are conducted with AFB pets at our Palatability Assessment Resource Center (PARC) to assess potential solutions.
  • Analyzing data and documenting recommendations. Interpreting what the data is telling us is the next step in our process. Depending on the project, I may conduct the analysis myself or work with AFB’s data science team to generate recommendations that help solve our customer’s business challenge.
  • Sharing results. The AFB team reviews the results, rationale and recommendation(s) with our customer to determine the best solution in relation to the customer’s pet food lines. We always strive to translate raw data into useful insights for the customer and deliver these insights in a timely manner.
  • Collaborating with other AFB team members. I work concurrently with multiple key customers on their initiatives, as do the other scientists on the customer engagement team. Other AFB scientists work on internal product development and innovation research to better understand the biological and behavioral drivers of flavor preference. We maintain regular contact, sharing insights with each other to ensure our customers get the best possible consultation and recommendations.

SUCCESS STORY

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is learning a product recommendation has exceeded a customer’s desired results. For example, in a recent customer challenge, we had a deep understanding of the customer’s specific kibble type. That helped us efficiently develop and test a palatant that met the success criterion. Customer testing confirmed robust performance results and the product was commercialized in record time.

GET IN TOUCH

To learn more about how AFB’s scientists and research and development capabilities can help achieve your palatability goals, contact me at pbanerjee@afbinternational or connect with your local AFB representative

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