Blog for Building Materials Companies

How to Use Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage in Building Materials

  |  Posted in Sales

How to Use Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage in Building Materials

Helping building materials companies be more effective is what I do. To do that well, I spend a lot of time observing exactly how they approach sales and marketing.

I don’t stop there, however. I also pay attention to how companies outside the industry are doing things. Sometimes, that’s where the best ideas are. They just need a building materials spin on them to become applicable to the clients I work with.

What Buying Ball Caps Taught Me About Selling Building Materials

I recently decided to get ball caps made with my logo on them. As a small organization, I didn’t need a lot of them. A quick Google search brought me to 4 Imprint. Their website was easy to navigate and I found what I was looking for almost immediately.

I uploaded my artwork and placed the order for a dozen ball caps. It went smoothly, easily, and a whole lot faster than I expected.

That was on a Friday night. The next morning, I received an email with proof of my artwork to approve. I requested a color change and received the revised proof within a few hours.

That was so simple yet so impressive. The speed of their response, especially on a weekend, exceeded my expectations. I didn’t ask for rush service or pay extra for faster processing – this is the way they handle every order.

The Customer Is Important, So Make Them Feel Like They Are

After my order was in, I received a series of emails from the company’s customer service department.

The first came from my customer service person. At first, I thought it was the typical “thanks for your business, let me know if there’s anything I can do for you” email you expect whenever you order something. Then something caught my attention. She included the shipping date and asked me to contact her if I needed my order sooner.

No one ever asks that, so I took notice.

The next email came from the manager of the customer service department. She introduced herself and encouraged me to contact her directly if my customer service representative couldn’t meet my needs.

I didn’t expect that, either. It sent the message that they’re really serious about their customer service.

After that, I received a helpful series of emails telling me my order had shipped, where I could track it and that my order had been delivered.

A day later, I got an email asking how they did, how I liked the hats and how I liked their service.

Many building materials companies manage their inquiries and orders individually which adds time, costs and customer dissatisfaction. As Gerry McCaughey, the CEO of Entekra says, “The Profit is in the Process”. In the very competitive low profit promotional products business, 4 Imprint is using process to grow their sales and margins.

How can you rethink your process?

Completing The Circle

That could have been the end of our transaction, but it wasn’t. Two weeks later, I received an email informing me that they were mailing me a surprise. Then I got a package that contained a simple cloth bag with their logo, a catalog and special offers for additional products for me to consider.

The real goal was to get me to look at their catalog and offers. It would have cost less for them to email those to me. If they did, though, I would have probably clicked to send them to the trash folder as soon as they came through.

Our inboxes are overwhelmed. We get more emails than we can read and inbox zero is a completely unrealistic goal. That’s why switching to direct mail can be a smart way to get your message across.

The key with direct mail is to focus on quality over quantity.

If you send a letter, postcard or a piece of literature, you’ll be lucky if you get 3% of the recipients to read your message. If you send a package instead, 80% or more will open your mailing and read your message.

We’re all sick of emails and junk mail, but everyone loves to get a package. We’re all curious about what’s inside. If it is executed well, you can get prospects to take a fresh look at what you’re offering and they’re more likely to remember you.

You will have more success targeting 100 architects, contractors, builders or dealers with a package than you would by sending a piece of literature to five thousand prospects.

In the end, it’s all about showing the customer that you care. Giving them a great website designed with them in mind shows them that you understand their needs. Providing them with great customer service shows them that you take those needs seriously. And sending them quality materials shows that working with them isn’t just an afterthought.

If you can show your customers that they’re important, they’ll take you a lot more seriously. If a ball cap company could make me feel that way, you can do the same.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.