This piece was originally published in the July 2018 issue of electroindustry.
As business leaders, we all want to own our customers and have the ability to anticipate their needs. Those relationships ensure that we have a loyal group of customers that aren’t going to go anywhere.
Owning the customer is becoming more of a challenge though. Customers are more connected. They have more choices. They have high expectations. They want more value than what’s described in the features and benefits of the products or services you offer. They want someone who understands their business as well as their customers. They want a trusted partner.
In order for distributors to be trusted partners, we need to learn more about who our customers are, what they need, and what keeps them awake at night. We need to evolve from what we’ve done in the past—marketing and selling a product or service—and begin to think about the whole customer experience. We are living in a data-driven world. In order to remain competitive, we need to be able to harness and use the data available regarding our customers.
Soon, you will begin to notice a change in how the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) supports its members by improving their overall experience. As we change and grow, we will focus much of our efforts on how we can help our members own their customers. We will begin providing the resources electrical distributors need to improve the long-term relationships they have with their customers.
According to Forrester Research, the only sustainable competitive advantage in this age of the customer is knowledge of and engagement with customers. The fact that people are buying your products is not important. What’s important is why they are buying your products. Increased competition and new sources of information that come from each interaction can give you new tools to better engage with your customers.
Think about how many touchpoints and interactions your associates have with your customers. If you look at the data being generated, you can identify their pain points and begin to identify trends that will help your business understand the important changes to make and the untapped opportunities to improve the customer experience.
We need to learn how to leverage what we know about our customers to exceed their customer service expectations. When things aren’t working as we expect, we need to fail fast and move on to a strategy that does work. Take Netflix, for example. They are experts at gathering data about their customers and using the information to provide their customers with the quality entertainment they want.
It’s time to change the way we deliver the customer experience, embrace opportunities for innovation, and create something better than what already exists. We are looking forward to working with our manufacturer members as we take this journey.