PART 3 of The Great Adapt: The Importance of Customer Relationships

March 7, 2023

Last week we discussed the importance of supplier relationships. This week, let's talk about our customer relationships. 

This may come as a no-brainer (and it should!), but it’s important to touch on the topic. “Customer relationships” include every touchpoint you have with an existing and/or potential customer. That includes every page on your website, your physical (or virtual) product, your instruction manuals, emails, phone calls – everything. And making sure you are reaching them the way they prefer to be communicated to is vital.

Communication is as simple as providing answers to short-term roadblocks like quickly responding to a customer question about a product, all the way to proactively creating long-term solutions. These long-term solutions can include working with a customer to achieve volume discounts, mapping out a 12-month purchasing calendar for specific product lines, or keeping them apprised of inventory levels.

Before, during and after the sale all matter just the same

The development of new communication methods and expansive product information gives today’s consumers more insight and buying power than ever before. For businesses, this means they’re purchasing more than just a product from you. Customers have now established a growing interest in not only what you are selling them, but how you are selling it and what happens after the sale. This shift has pushed companies to invest in predictive and responsive customer experience management methods to improve customer retention, satisfaction, and create cross-selling/upselling opportunities.

Companies are also doubling down on their commitment to category management. Continuing to provide customers with solutions backed by data will ultimately drive successes for both vendors and customers. Every member that works with customers, from customer service teams to product development teams, play an important role in building healthy customer relationships. This extends beyond the initial purchase, where building trust and repeat customers takes more than just filling an order.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten,” - Benjamin Franklin

Poor quality means more than just a product; it refers to an experience. Building trust is important with the physical aspect of our products, but even more with our company and brand. Because of this, we hyper focus on:

  • Customers no longer base their loyalty completely on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the overall experience they receive. If manufacturers cannot keep up with their increasing demands, regardless of their low prices, customers will leave them. A Walker Study found at the end of 2020, customer experience overtook price and product as the key brand differentiator.
  • Evolving degrees of buyer influence. Good companies understand today’s buyers make their purchasing decisions on more than just brochures and product catalogs. Companies must be readily available, on various digital platforms, to answer questions in real-time, talking through or showing solutions to common problems, comparing methodology for doing it one way versus another way, educating about ROI and total cost of ownership, and sharing success stories visually to make everything more relatable. Customers have to see how the product will work for them in their specific scenario, and companies are not going to win solely on their product offering.

Next week we will wrap up this series with discussing the importance of Competitor Relationships.

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