How important is speed in your industry? Do you value speed more than other aspects of business?
In the hardwood lumber industry, we feel speed makes a difference these days. Thanks to vast amounts of online resources we find buyers are more educated than ever before. We have heard the statistic that as much as 70% of the buying cycle is probably complete before a prospect makes first contact with you. Therefore, you have to be prepared to respond with the knowledge and information needed to complete the transaction.
In many aspects of our daily lives technology has conditioned us to expect immediate (or near real-time) answers to our inquiries. Companies that fail to acknowledge this expectation could risk a steep loss in customer growth.
If you think emphasizing speed in your business would be beneficial you might find these basic best practices helpful.
- Make use of new customer service channels. Phone calls and emails are fine as far as they go, but if your competitors offer advanced customer service channels, so should you. Customers with purchasing questions and/or complaints think nothing of reaching out to suppliers via messaging apps and social media platforms. In addition, we have found that it is usually a good rule of thumb to make your initial response to your customers in the mode of communication they contacted you.
- Be a resource; Always provide something of value. Even the most rudimentary exchange with a prospect or customer should be of inherent value to that person or business. Following an initial inquiry, be prepared to answer any question they might have during your conversation and provide additional information that’s timely, relevant and potentially valuable to their own enterprise. We find that if you can provide expert advice with each interaction you can demonstrate your ongoing value which may be the single greatest incentive for customers to reach out to you in the future.
- Automate responses with a consistent voice. Your customers understand that you’re busy and not always able to respond immediately to their questions or comments. However, instead of providing a bland, generic auto-response craft an automated response that clearly reflects your brand promise and commitment to replying ASAP. Personalizing your response can help make a favorable first impression that leads to further interactions and a possible sale.
- Make rapid delivery of products or services a top priority. Remember, customers these days want everything right away. Smartphones and mobile technologies can help your sales team take orders from anywhere in the field, get them to your back office and accelerate the delivery process. Speedy order fulfillment – with no issues or foul-ups – will enhance your standing in the customer’s eyes.
The hardwood lumber industry faces the same customer service challenge as any other industry in the B2B realm. Everything you can do to add speed to quality will differentiate you from your competitors and generate improved results. And if done right you will develop strong customer relationships.
Do you have other ideas to share? Please let us know. We would love to hear from you.