By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter
Are we living up to our customers expectations? As consumers, we know that through the improvements in technology that most of us want fast, cost-effective and personalized levels of experience. And most are getting it, but at what cost?
Is this any different for the manufacturing world and your customers? Have your distributors and contractors become more demanding? My guess is yes, because remember, they are consumers too and they expect the same from their business dealings.
I read an interesting article in eMarketer recently that companies in general are having trouble meeting customer expectations. 93% of business leaders worldwide said technology has changed the customer experience in the last 10 years.
How does that stack up with what you’re experiencing?
What are your biggest challenges? Are they in this chart?
What are you doing about it?
Customer service. We all say we have it, but what is it? Where does it start?
Unless you are offering something you can’t get anywhere else, then you’re going to have competition from someone. So what makes your customers or potentials want to do business with you instead of them?
Assuming you have a good product, then I’d say the customer experience would be the major deal sealer or breaker. Customer service starts the moment someone from your company answers the phone, through the sales process and follow-up with your customer service department if a question or problem arises.
I guess what I’m trying to say is your company’s customer service should start with every employee. Those that are on the front line (be it a CS or delivery man), they have the one-on-one contact with the customer and can sway future purchases by their actions or inactions. We all build our business around repeat sales so everyone in the company needs to be goodwill ambassadors. The challenge for all of us is to find the friction in our process and smooth it out.
Do you know what a customer is worth to you? Think beyond this quarter or even this year. Think about the last 5 years. How much stuff have you sold them? More importantly, if you come out with something new, where are your best chances of selling it? To someone new, or to someone who knows, likes and trusts you?
Here are some insights on how we can make the customer experience better, resulting in better loyalty and ultimately more sales:
- Deliver outstanding quality – from a great quality product to courteous customer service and user-friendly literature.
- Understand what your customers want – don’t assume to know what they want – ask them.
- Connect with them – direct relationships are the most important and the most challenging. Always think WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Be sincere and upfront with them. When communicating with them, don’t always be selling. Try to help solve a problem even though it might not, in the short-term, result in a sale to you.
- Under promise and over deliver – exceed your customers’ expectations, then do it again!
- Don’t sit on your laurels – yes, you have some neat products, but instead of sitting there and just doing the same old same o, innovate. If you don’t, someone else will.
Now these points probably aren’t a revelation to you, but when was the last time you focused on your customers and said THANK YOU!