Wednesday, 18 May 2016 20:35

How Can You Satisfy Customers (Besides Offering a Price Break)?

In the hardwood lumber industry, just like many others, there’s not always an opportunity to offer a significant price break on products - one way to virtually guarantee satisfying customers. However, over time we have found that there are other things we can try to do to increase customer satisfaction. We focus on these areas daily and strive to make them part of our culture. Maybe you would see value in some of them as well.

customer-satisfactionBe responsive. First-class service is the foundation for any positive customer experience, and we find it is very important in the hardwood lumber business. This means developing your employees and the tools they use to ensure that your company responds promptly and thoroughly to customer inquiries of any kind.

Be attentive. In just about any arena of business, listening to customers is a key element of responsiveness. Customers may not always know what they need—in part, they depend on you to help them find the best solutions to their problems—and this often requires active listening on your part to uncover the best approach. In face-to-face or digital communications, asking the right questions will get to a resolution quicker.

Be engaged. Many businesses in the hardwood lumber industry are still grappling with how to handle social media and add it to their customer service mix. Be assured—your customers are encountering the same challenge with their target audience, and many are opting to dive in head-first.

Social media is a very effective way to engage with your customers. Brandon Sawalich writes on MarketingProfs that he devotes “a significant amount of time keeping in touch with customers via phone, email, and social media platforms like Twitter, where I retweet customer tweets, recognize their wins, and simply engage with them on a human level.” Good advice for us all!

Be proactive. The best service comes as a result of your deep knowledge of the customer’s business. Vendors and suppliers shouldknow what’s most important to their customers and have a good sense of their product needs and challenges. This way, they can seek to address a challenge before it occurs. If you can resolve an issue the customer didn’t even know he had, you’re doing your job.

Be seamless in your delivery. The ease of doing business is another top customer priority. As you reflect upon the entire spectrum of the delivery process, how seamless is the experience from your customer’s point of view? Are there any roadblocks—or even minor, unnecessary delays—between the customer’s original order and their receiving the final deliverable? For us, everything from hardwood lumber packaging to reliable and timely delivery and invoicing is an essential element of quality customer service.

Keep things simple. When offering products or answers to customer issues, how complex are your answers? We all know our customers are busy and business is complex. People want to keep things simple whenever possible.

“Small businesses are not looking for big, complicated enterprise solutions,” notes customer service expert Lynn Tsoflias. “They want something that’s easy to use, that they’re going to learn quickly, and help them do what they want to do.”

Get employees actively involved. Your front-line staff should always focus on providing customer satisfaction. But they’ll only do so if you create a thriving customer-focused business culture. Look to hire compassionate individuals who genuinely enjoy serving customers. Reward examples of outstanding service. Let everyone in the company know that placing the customer first is everyone’s top priority.

Satisfied customers don’t just bring their own business to your company. They share their positive experiences with others in their networks, serving in many cases as the ideal “brand ambassador.” It only makes good business sense to encourage this activity by promoting customer satisfaction at every turn.

If you are looking for a hardwood supplier that is focused on delivering high customer satisfaction in all aspects of your dealings with them, give us a call. We will do our best to help you.

Tony Cimorelli
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