Why Trust is Essential in Customer Relationships

October 5, 2021

For the last five years, Rafael Castrillon has served as a Site Performance Manager (SPM), covering two mine sites for in Australia. He describes his job in the simplest terms as being similar to that of a service representative, with a laser focus on key sites or models — with the added bonus of implementing equipment management practices.

It Takes a Team

“My role is to ensure our customers are extracting the maximum value from their Caterpillar mining machines, in terms of uptime, productivity and cost,” Rafael says. “Maximizing this value ensures we win at site. Our customers are successful, which in turn means Caterpillar and Caterpillar dealers are also successful.”

Rafael works closely with the Caterpillar and dealer product support groups, as well as with customer teams to enable success. “I can’t do it without the people back in the product groups — we’re all one gear out of an entire mechanism. If one cog’s not working, then everything falls down. We all win together. We all lose together.”


“There are so many knowledgeable individuals in the Caterpillar and dealer networks,” he says. “I need to ensure I take advantage of this knowledge base to minimize any potential project risks and maximize the benefits.” In addition, he notes that from a technology standpoint he partners closely with dedicated technology representatives to identify opportunities, conduct trials, and iron any bugs out of the systems.

Evolving Customer Relationships Through Trust

A key measure of success for Rafael’s role relies on the existence of trust between himself and the customer. Rafael says that this trust evolves overtime.  Rafael shares that an SPM might first be brought into a site when ongoing issues warrant specialized support and where customers may be frustrated with current results.

From Castrillon’s perspective, it’s about showing the customer that you’re making progress, showing them some tangible results, showing them that you’re there to assist and help them out. “Ultimately, my goal is for the customer to trust me and acknowledge that I am adding value.” With results comes trust, and as trust builds the relationship strengthens.

Advice to Future SPMs

He emphasizes practical experience and knowledge.

“Get to know the machines. Be familiar with them. Be confident to get out there, because as an SPM you are customer-facing, you are dealer-facing, and tricky questions will come your way. So, any opportunity you’ve got to get out in the field, whether it be production studies, whether it be helping to install trial iron or installing new technologies, take it — it really allows you to get an in-depth understanding of our machines and our systems.”

Do you have what it takes to join the team that leverages relationship building to drive customer success? Join the team today.