Many building materials companies are exceeding their sales plans, even with the effects of the Coronavirus. This extra business is coming from both existing and new customers.
Growth is a good thing, but it might also be putting stress on your organization.
Whether it’s production planning, shipping, customer questions, or anything else, your organization might be struggling to keep up. Remote work doesn’t make it any easier – people working from home can’t just walk down the hall to get an answer for a customer.
Your customer’s business is also experiencing stress from the unexpected volume of work and contracts, along with the challenges of dealing with the Coronavirus.
Those challenges have created an opportunity for building materials companies.
If you take a longer-term view of your situation, you will be able to lock in the extra business that you’re enjoying right now. When the Coronavirus has passed and we get to the new normal, your competitors will start approaching your customers.
They may offer them lower prices, better service, or a superior product. Or they may pursue your customers based on your weaknesses.
Knowledge Is Key
To prepare for this, you need to start asking yourself the right questions.
What frustrates your customers when they deal with you? What do your customers wish you would do differently? How could you help your customers be more efficient or successful?
Most building materials companies can’t answer these questions. They either assume they’re already doing a great job with customer service or they believe they’re doing good enough.
And yet every architect, builder, contractor, dealer and distributor I talk to tells me that customer service is in decline at building materials companies. That decline started in 2009 with the last recession and took a jump with the Coronavirus.
Getting Closer to Your Customers
Part of improving your customer service is getting closer to the customers.
The best way to do that is for your CEO, President and other leaders to talk to random customers on a regular basis. If they just pick up the phone, call a random customer and ask them “How are we doing? What could we do better?” they will learn some very valuable information that can lead to a real competitive advantage.
When you rely on studies and surveys instead of direct customer communication, you miss important insights and issues. Those results measure how well you are doing at providing a low level of customer satisfaction. Being the best of the worst is not a good goal.
When staffers recommend a way to save costs by cutting back on something, no one checks with the customer.
That’s a mistake because great customer service is one of the best ways to stand apart from the competition these days.
If you want to be the leader when we arrive at the new normal, you need to focus on being the leader in customer service now.
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