Friday, 13 May 2016 20:39

5 Ways to Support Custom Solutions for Your Customers

We do our best to be a customer-focused company. Our goal is to always provide personalized service, even while leveraging advances in technology to better support our business operations. In a commodity business like hardwood lumber, providing a personal touch and customized solutions is a key differentiating factor.

Still, in the hardwood industry, there are always challenges to offering customized solutions. There’s a complexity of issues and support beyond what many B2C or retail businesses experience. For one thing, numerous individuals can be involved in a customized hardwood lumber solution, including one or more key decision-makers, an inventory manager, the operations supervisor, machine operators, the hardwood lumber buyer and even select end-users in certain instances. That’s a lot of customers to please.joel bob

This complexity makes the goal of offering customized solutions more difficult—but not impossible. Here are five ways in which we have found a company can achieve a level high of customer satisfaction when supporting custom solutions.

1. Make sure your support team is up-to-speed on every customer. Since it’s customary for businesses to spend considerable time with each customer, they should thoroughly understand their needs and concerns. This knowledge should be communicated throughout your organization and support team, so when a customer calls in with an issue, the team is already familiar with that customer’s business and can offer a prompt, knowledgeable response.

2. Offer comprehensive product information. Your customers can resolve some issues on their own, simply by accessing in-depth product information. It’s your responsibility to make such information easy to access and understand, and to keep that information up-to-date, if and when changes occur.

3. Develop and use listening tools. Any customer-focused business needs to listen to what their customers are saying. Do you have systems in place to capture customer service inquiries? How actively do you engage with your customers (and your industry at large) on social media? These are ways to better understand the needs of your customers and challenges they might be facing which you can address with a customized response.

4. Regularly test your customer response systems. Having a response system in place to handle customer queries is a great first step, but unless you’re assured that these systems are always working, you may not succeed in resolving complaints or problems.

“Test your systems and processes, online, offline, and on mobile channels, to ensure that whatever your customers need to do in order to use your self-service tools, it is simple, straightforward and quick,” says marketing specialist Louis Foong. “The problems your customers face are already complex; the solutions shouldn’t be.”

5. Anticipate customer issues before they arise. If your customer knowledge is as all encompassing as it should be, you may already have a pretty good idea about the types of issues and challenges that may come up. Look to your sales team for feedback in this area. They can assist you in preparing helpful responses for the customer support team and crafting a wide-ranging FAQs page on your website. In a best-case scenario, your customers can simply go to your website and find the answers they need.

Regardless of what customer service channel you choose to offer, it should be equipped with all the resources needed to make it work each and every time. Communicate to your customers where they can go with comments or complaints, and assure them a personalized response will be forthcoming. At the same time, in the hardwood lumber industry, we often find that a prompt phone call or face-to-face meeting request is the best way to serve our customers. Perhaps that holds true in your industry as well.

We continue to develop and support many custom hardwood lumber solutions for our customers. These practices and our general Custom Lumber Solution Program are ways in which we do that.

What other best practices have worked for you? Let us know.

Tony Cimorelli
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