I met with the president of a large one-step distributor with hundreds of locations. There was one question I was itching to ask him.
“What can a company do to get more of your business?”
His answer surprised me.
“It’s really simple. Just do what you say.”
I was a bit dumbfounded, so he elaborated.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of large building material companies who don’t do what they say.
They will claim that they offer excellent customer service. They tell us we can get answers to our questions quickly. But they don’t deliver. They do everything based on what’s best for them.
In the past, if we had a simple special request, our rep could make it happen. Now our rep has to jump through a lot of hoops to get permission to do something that is good for us.
A question as simple as ‘Will the truck arrive on Wednesday morning?’ or ‘Will the order be complete?’ are now harder to get answered. It also now falls on us to follow up and get an answer.”
It goes without saying that no building material company should disappoint their customers this much. Doing what you say should be the bare minimum. But there are at least three reasons why this is happening.
- Since the 2009 recession, companies have added sales and production people, but they haven’t added back the people who can make sure they do what they say. They haven’t added people in customer service, shipping, accounting and technical support at the same pace as their growth in sales volume.
- Their employees are less empowered to solve a customer’s issues. Most of these people want to help the customer and even know how to solve their problem. However, solving that problem might involve working around their systems. Because of that, taking the initiative to help the customer can put their job at risk.
- There are too many MBA’s who just look at spreadsheets. It is now common practice to have smart people looking for ways to reduce costs and improve the company’s financial performance. Most of these people have never been on a job site or met a customer. They are masters of analyzing data to find ways to improve the company’s financial performance without regard to how a change will affect the customer experience.
If you want to grow your sales today, find ways to improve the customer experience based on what they tell you. Be the company that does what they say and you’ll have more satisfied customers.
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