We know how competitive the hardwood lumber business is. From firsthand experience, we have learned there is no room for complacency when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers.
It is important to think of each interaction with your customers as an opportunity for your team to provide significant value and further enhance your customer’s overall experience.
These interactions can also be of great value to your any your organization and lead to additional areas of differentiation if you use the feedback you receive in a constructive manner.
For example, some of the benefits you can gleam from active interactions with your customers include:
- Verifying what’s working and not working with your products.
- Gaining a better understanding of where your customer service efforts may or may not be succeeding.
- Hearing firsthand how your customers are using your product which can result in uncovering new ideas about potential upselling.
- An improved understanding your customer’s needs, (both stated and unstated), wants and desires.
- A better relationship which can improve your ability to develop enhanced customer loyalty.
To maximize the benefit throughout your organization, we find the key in most instances is to you actively cultivate and share the customer feedback you receive. This involves more than occasionally putting out a message to your employees in your company newsletter or distributing a once-a-year customer survey. To be actively cultivating and sharing feedback we find it is best to focus on a few important tactics.
- Maximize feedback by offering a variety of channels for your customers. Your customers are all unique, and they all have preferred methods of communicating with their suppliers. It’s up to you to cater to those preferences, by offering multiple points of contact—from email and phone to texting and website communication formats.
- Share as many sales & support lessons internally as you can. Your front line sales and service personnel gather the most firsthand information in your company. Find ways to have them quickly and easily share their finds with others. Develop formal programs such as lunch & learns and informal sessions to get people to talk about their recent customer interactions whenever possible.
- Take the proper amount of time to analyze and test. Even the best feedback is just information if you don’t do something with it. If you embark on a true customer feedback program, make sure you do something with the data. Conduct tests, try new things, pilot new programs and analyze your findings. Don’t be afraid to fail and when you find something that works be sure to go all in on leveraging it for new business.
These best practices have proven to be successful in all of our departments. Whether it is with our forestry team, in our sawmills, with the managers at the lumber yards, or the lumber trades we have in the field buying green and kiln dried lumber, gaining and sharing customer feedback and using it to improve has been key!
What other types of techniques have worked for you? What can you add to the conversation? We look forward to hearing from you.