It's becoming more difficult to keep up with customers' changing demands, but adding new services – and not charging for them – can actually pay dividends, according to Eric Wessinger, president, Richards Supply, Waco, TX, in Are You Meeting Customers' Service Needs?
For example, Richards Supply, an industrial supply and safety distributor, recently added a full-time safety specialist who helps customers’ safety managers implement training, meet regulations, examine workplace safety processes and understand products. The company also hosts CPR and first-aid training, among other offerings, all to build stronger relationships with customers – with the long-term goal of building a stronger top line.
"What we’re trying to do is help our customers automate their safety process and eliminate some of the paperwork,” Wessinger says. “Ultimately, if they’re trusting us to come in and do CPR training, hopefully they would trust us to have their safety glasses and respirators on the shelf for them."
Stellar Industrial Supply, Tacoma, WA, also prioritizes product and process training to help customers identify pain points and then find ways to resolve them, COO Steve Slater says.
“We bring in a differentiated piece in that we bring a level of training and sophistication that is really hard to match by competitors of ours,” he says. “And we are not doing a fee-based service for 99 percent of our training. People see that as a huge savings.”
Adding training services for customers will require an upfront cost, but one way to recoup some of that investment is to charge companies that don't yet purchase products from you while providing it free of charge for existing customers.
“Eventually it comes down to product, and we want to see sales in that category (safety) increase. But it really started with just helping the customer,” Wessinger says. “If we can be more than just a place they go to buy things, then eventually we feel we’ll earn that business, as well.”
Read more about the benefits of enhancing your customer relationships through added services in Are You Meeting Customers' Service Needs?