Providing stellar customer service and continuing to improve on the customer experience should be seen as a vital, foundational component of any business. Not just “another” aspect to eventually work on. Satisfied customers are essential if you hope to see growth. These are the folks you interact with on a daily basis, are buying your product, using your product and come back for repeat business when they are happy. As I mentioned in a previous article, customers are the lifeblood of any company – vital for function and success. Seems obvious, but there’s more to it than that.
It Starts With How You View Your Customers
All too often, many companies view their customers as a means to an end = sell more product. And while it’s true, you will sell more product if customers are pleased, I would like to take it a step further and say that one of the reasons we’ve seen such success at Valmont Site Pro 1 is the way we see our customers – as partners.
What is a partner anyway? It’s two or more parties working together for the same purpose. Looking to serve each other and are invested in each others’ success. I would say that if you ever want to see growth in your company, it’s essential to approach your customers with an attitude of service, with their success and growth in mind – putting them first. Ultimately this will affect the relationship with your customer and your bottom line.
Below are some of the guidelines we’ve established that have helped us to create an exceptional experience for our customers.
Know Your Products & Educate Your Customer
You and your team should be able to provide a wealth of knowledge for your customers to draw from about your products with both recommendations and insight into usage. I always suggest rigorous product training and providing a wealth of materials for your team to learn from and reference at all times. This may mean creating a knowledge base along with frequently asked questions that may come up regularly. By doing this, you’ll be able to properly educate your customer as to the best solutions for their needs.
Understand Your Customers
One of the best things you and your team can do for a customer is to look at things from their perspective. Try to understand them as a person, their business, their challenges, their goals, etc. Take the extra step by putting yourself in their shoes. This means asking questions, doing research and putting in the effort to really know your customers. By doing this, you’ll not only show the customer you care, but you’ll be able to make proper, educated suggestions as to what will help them the most.
Commit To Continuous Improvement
You have to commit to continuous improvement. Set the bar, evaluate regularly and always commit to improving on your past performance. For example, at Site Pro 1, out of the tens of thousands of orders that ship yearly, over 99% ship without error and 96% ship complete without a back order – this is a bar we have set and try to continually improve on. With your own customers, you will have your own specific metrics to identify and performance to exceed. The point is to identify them and consciously commit to improving on past performance. This way, you’ll ensure that you are growing in the areas that count the most.
Welcome New Feedback
You want to let the customer know that their feedback is valued and encouraged. I always suggest opening up a variety of channels to accept feedback, suggestions and criticism. Every comment is an opportunity to improve, build and provide your customers with the service they want. We have numerous channels available to our customers that are monitored at all times. Our customers appreciate it and have the satisfaction of knowing their concerns are being heard and immediately addressed.
Complaints (Listen and Fix)
Building off my point above (feedback), you have to be in the mindset that every complaint is an opportunity to make things right for your customer and improve your products and/or service. Your customers are your eyes and ears in the field, using your products and interacting with your company on a daily basis. Their criticisms can be pure gold, helping you to refine and improve your processes and the solutions you offer.
Reach Out & Build Your Relationship
Just because a customer isn’t ready to buy at the moment, doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out to them to check in. Keep the lines of communication open, call your customers, see how they are, how business is, if there are any new challenges they are facing, etc. Sometimes a routine call can yield an opportunity either for you or to help your customer in one way or another.
Streamline Your Processes
Your customers are busy, they are running their business and focused on growing themselves. You need to be able to streamline and simplify the buying process for them in any way you can within your power. We make it our business to provide our customers with the knowledge they need to make educated product purchases quickly and we commit to always making improvements to the sales process itself – this means removing any hurdles or time consuming processes during a sale. This speeds everything up for the customer and ensures they get what they need, when they need it.
I can’t stress the importance of follow up enough. By doing this, you not only express to your customer you care, but many times you will uncover opportunities that would have never come up, had you not reached out. Your team should have a system in place for sales follow up, complaint follow up, feedback follow up, etc. Your customer may want to hear what you have to say and engage with you, but not have the time at the moment to properly respond. This is why a solid follow up system is essential. Bernard Kelvin Clive says “Either you follow-up or you fold-up”.
Go The Extra Mile
This goes without saying and has so many facets. If you see your customers as a “partner” to grow with, you will want to approach each opportunity with the intent of going well beyond what they are asking for at the moment. You and you alone know your particular customer – you know their needs and their challenges – and you are best positioned as a solution provider to meet and exceed their individual expectations. Zig Ziglar says “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” You’ll find it takes little effort to make a difference and stand out from the competition.
Putting This Into Action
So what’s the secret to our success? As I’ve mentioned before, we look at all of our customers as partners. They are the priority, we put them first. And all of our internal processes reflect and stem from this view. If you’re serious about improving your organization’s customer service processes, you can read endless articles, but my suggestion is getting to the root of it all and keep it simple. It comes down to how you view your customer. Remember: Customers First.
Mike Clementi serves as the National Sales Manager at Valmont Site Pro 1 and Valmont Structures for the America’s. When he first began his career with Site Pro 1, he turned a $500K territory into a high producing 7 figure territory as a Regional Sales Manager. Learn More