CREATE SATISFACTION –
Show them the way!
Customers in the building products industry generally base satisfaction on three things: a quality product, dependable delivery and cost/value at every price point.
Even if you’ve got those bases covered, a bad experience along the trail of a transaction could taint an otherwise positive perception of your brand. (Like finding a hair in your soup at a favorite restaurant. Probably an innocent, isolated mistake on the part of a kitchen employee—but it’s one you won’t soon forget.)
That’s why it’s so helpful to mentally—and wherever possible, physically—walk yourself through your customer’s experience with your brand, and look for gaps in communication or process that could be thwarting your chances for 100% customer satisfaction.
Start in cyberspace.
Are you easy to find online? Would a customer new to the market—or a buyer who’s comparison-shopping—find your website on a search results list? Make sure your web team is using search engine optimization (SEO) tools and techniques to land your brand at the top of results lists, especially for searches on specific products you sell.
Visit your website.
Websites can be a mine field of “dead ends”, particularly for new prospects who arrive via search. Does your homepage welcome first-timers with a clear, concise summary of who you are, what you sell, to whom, and why you’re the best choice for a buyer? Does it tell them what to do next?
Travel your site in different scenarios: as a first-time customer ready to buy, an existing customer whose order is being delayed, a customer awaiting a delivery, a customer with product questions. Look for roadblocks such as broken links, inconsistent or outdated information, pages that are “under construction”. No only do they confuse and frustrate customers, they leave the impression that your brand doesn’t have its act together.
Subscribe to your blog or e-newsletter.
Use an alternate e-mail address and start a new subscription. Is the sign-up process simple and fast? Do you receive a confirmation/welcome message right away? Does the look and feel of the blog or newsletter reflect your brand? Is the content useful and informative?
Go on a sales call.
Tag along with your sales people from time to time, as Louis and Company VP of Marketing Greg Rewers does each year. Look and listen from the customer’s perspective. Is your brand’s personality, its uniqueness, reflected in the verbal presentation? In your catalog and marketing materials? Are the spoken and written messages in sync? Is the follow-up prompt and friendly?
Then follow an order.
Open a faux account with your company and place an order. Then put yourself in the customer’s shoes as you receive order confirmations, updates on shipping status, out-of-stock notifications and the like—via email, postal mail or personal phone call.
Do the communications from your company have a consistent, professional look and feel? Are the messages clear and concise? Do they invite questions along the way, and tell customers how to contact you? And most important:
Is every effort being made to resolve problems, shorten delays and make the customer happy? In addition to ride-alongs, Louis and Company’s Greg Rewers conducts annual “vendor check-ups” to ensure that the supply chain flow is healthy and smooth, lessening the chance for fulfillment glitches and other barriers to customer satisfaction.
EL&EL Wood Products is another example of a company that removes barriers and resolves customer issues swiftly and painlessly. Recently, one of their sales people was visiting a customer and overheard a problem (that didn’t involve EL&EL). The sales rep made some calls and said, “WE can take care of your problem and install it for you tomorrow morning. What time should our man be there?”
Now that’s creating customer satisfaction!
There’s no better way to broaden your perspective and understanding of your customers’ true experience with your brand than to walk in their footsteps. Fill any gaps you uncover along the way, and your customers will walk away happy. Satisfied. And eager to do business with you again.
Here’s to creating a sensation! Let’s get started.
Allison DeFord, Trailblazer