Companies in unglamorous, yet essential, industries and niches (septic system maintenance, mortuary supplies, car wash operations, trade association operators, and so forth) can benefit from a program of customer service and customer experience improvement every bit as much as the retail and hospitality players that typically gain renown on the subject. The same is true, more generally, for companies that operate in the B2B (wholesale) space.
Here are six ways to improve your customer service if your company operates within such an industry.
1. Benchmark the consumer brands that your customers are already judging you in comparison to. That customer whom you only know as someone who buys from your niche business during the day also has a life independently as a consumer, which means they know what it feels like to buy from Apple and Zappos and even how it feels to splurge on a stay at a great hotel with five-star hospitality and customer service. This means that they’ll be considering your level of customer service against these high standards, not only against what may be generally expected in your industry.
As Jeff MacDowell, who has made a name for himself in an unlikely industry (plumbing supply) puts it, “When we only benchmark our immediate competitors, it limits our ability to improve. I find our industry improves the fastest when it extends its view outward and learns from all the great players, regardless of industry.”
2. Even if your customers buy your products because they need to, don’t think your level of customer service should be lower than it would be on a discretionary purchase. I’m fond of the statement of purpose that guides Safelite AutoGlass:
We exist to make a difference and bring unexpected happiness to people’s everyday lives.
Note the three salient words here: “unexpected,” “difference,” “happiness,” and “everyday,” particularly the term “unexpected.” Safelite associates tend to come into a…