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Don’t Lose Your Humanity When You Go Digital

Don’t Lose Your Humanity When You Go Digital

June 4, 2019

If you have an opportunity to be in touch with a customer, you have an opportunity to use your company’s unique voice to bolster relationships. This is especially true — although often overlooked — for distributors looking to strengthen their digital capabilities. 

At Sprinkler Supply Store, we are focused on improving on the customer relationship in a digital format. We make it a point to talk to them in the way they want to be spoken to through all of the digital touch points — from the way our recorded voicemail messages sound to automated order confirmation emails. Even with a digital approach, it’s still all about the people, the relationships we’ve built, and not about sounding like a computer.

It’s really easy in a digital format to sound like everybody else: “Thank you for your order. Your order is No. 123456.” By avoiding this plain-Jane approach, all distributors have a chance to deliver a message in a tone they would use in the real world. 

For example, we recently re-wrote the ‘about us’ page on with more of a human touch. Instead of saying, “Sprinkler Supply Store was founded in 2011 … blah blah blah,” we created a more interesting, creative read so that we didn’t just sound like every other company in the world. Here’s the introduction:

Fighting Lame Customer Service Since 2011

Sprinklers aren’t sexy, but phenomenal service sure is. 

Hey, you found the page where we talk about ourselves! Spoiler alert, though: we actually wanna talk about YOU. 

Sprinkler Supply Store exists because you deserve a better, easier way to get the sprinkler system and landscaping parts you need. 

To put it gently, other traditional distributors in our industry blow chunks at customer service. 

We’re not exactly sure why it’s so hard to ship items quickly, respond to emails, and return calls. But for some reason, other parts sellers find it more difficult than landing the Mars Rover. 

If we had a TV drama, it would be called Lawn & Order. *dun dun* 

We wanted it to be a little edgy because we want to create emotion and grab attention. All of our email follow-up series, all of our post-purchase sequences and our win-back sequences are really trying to bring the human into the digital world instead of just being digital. 

Once Again, With Feeling

Any time you have a chance to have a touchpoint with the customer, you have a chance to spread your message, tell someone who you are, why you exist, why they should care. You don’t need a million-dollar tech investment to do it. You can automate your interactions — but make them human. Every time someone makes a purchase and you send a follow-up email, or whatever your automations are, don’t make them plain and boring. They’ll just get deleted. You want someone to have a feeling about it. 

Something we could be more passionate about in the B2B world is emulating the B2C experience. We all buy from B2C, we all know the ease of purchasing a consumer good on Amazon. There’s no reason somebody can’t have just as much fun buying their supply parts, or feel a connection with who they buy their supply parts from. In fact, the lifetime value of the B2B customer is huge, whereas the lifetime value of the B2C customer is typically much lower. 

Our goal in our automated email responses is for customers to reply back thinking they’ve been communicating with a human. Our template emails are written like our customer service manager went in by hand and looked at the status of an order and sent a personal email. One example, if an item is on backorder, we initially tell the customer it could be 7-10 days. If the order hasn’t shipped by day 8, we fire off another automated email. Something as simple as: “We looked at the status of your order and it still hasn’t shipped yet but we’re keeping you in the loop.” Customers frequently thank us for the personal response. 

Everyone on my team is a customer service person first. Not everyone answers the phone, but culturally, we would all agree on being the best at customer service. Provide the best customer experience possible and then it’s not about the price anymore. Try to bring as much human into the digital equation as possible. It’s all about relationships. 

Join me June 19 in Denver when I speak more on this topic and other digital initiatives in a panel discussion at MDM’s Digital Distributor Summit. Jason Joice of HD Supply, Sheila Hernandez of Summit Electric Supply and Sean McDonnell of and I will talk about ways we’re delivering customer value through digital disruption. I hope to see you there. 


© 2019 Gale Media, Inc.

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