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Posted September 10, 2020

Ask your customers

Rich VurvaOver the past several months, if you’re like most distributors, you have been scrambling to adjust the ways you do business in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Your company has likely implemented a variety of changes, some of which may end up being part of your new normal.

While most companies will jettison some of the process changes as soon as health officials give the OK (like social distancing and wearing masks), other new ways of doing business may become an accepted best practice. For example, salespeople have learned that it’s not always necessary to visit customers face-to-face. In fact, some customers prefer emails, text messaging and the occasional Zoom meeting when they want to look a salesperson in the eye, rather than an in-person visit. Should personal visits become less common in the future, salespeople will have more time to spend solving problems because they’ll be spending less time behind the wheel of their car.

A key thing to remember, writes Jason Bader in his article “Don’t Forget the Voice of the Customer,” is to find out what the customer expects before you make any change permanent. That advice may seem obvious. But you can probably think of multiple times in the past when you thought that a service that you offered customers would prove especially popular, only to discover that customers were underwhelmed by your idea.

Bader suggests that whether you use an online survey tool to gauge customer opinion, or conduct phone or personal interviews, you don’t want to fall into the trap of simply asking a few pet accounts some leading questions to get the results you desire.

Look at your product and service offering as objectively as possible. Try to remove all bias from your questions. One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that it is possible to do business in new and different ways that we may not have considered before. The most important thing to remember is to involve your customer in the decision-making process before you implement any permanent changes.

Rich Vurva
Twitter: @IndSupplyMag

This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2020 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2020, Direct Business Media.


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