Customer (CX) experience can no longer be considered as a part of a distributor’s brand — it is your brand. How does your company use CX to stand out from the crowd? In this pursuit, distributors often miss focusing on the core building blocks that make CX successful: product, process and the often spoken of (but seldom acted upon) people.
Understanding how these three Ps interact and overlap is essential for distributors to create and leverage a positive customer experience.
The best people and processes cannot be successful if the product misses the mark. In distribution, “product” includes many factors: design, specifications, location and price. Achieving a successful “product-market” fit is the goal, and fortunately there is a vast amount of data that can be leveraged to ensure that is not left to chance. Distributors provide “solutions.” Intimately understanding the needs of your customers in a target market allows product to meet those needs and provide solutions.
Product design must consider demographic, ethnographic, psychographic and economic information. Inventory of a product that checks all the boxes for the target market will maximize value for customers, increase sales velocity and improve margins.
A well-intentioned team and market-matched product cannot succeed without a sound process. “A bad system will beat a good person every time,” according to quality expert W. Edwards Deming. A good process is repeatable, scalable, efficient and constantly improving. Auditing the current process means digging deep; a significant undertaking with great rewards. Process analysis unearths existing bottlenecks, non-value-added stages, inefficiencies and waste. Layering the customer journey over that process exposes potential friction points and allows process engineering to enhance the customer experience.
People must be aligned to the right roles. A highly skilled manager who consistently exceeds time, quality and budget objectives but falls short with customer-facing interactions should be provided with training to excel at customer interactions, or buffered from those situations to leverage what they do best. Hammering a square peg into a round hole does not create solutions, only friction.
Comprehensive and continuous training will always generate a significant return on investment. Skills and knowledge gained in an organization equip people to be trusted and empowered. An organization is only able to scale successfully when people are afforded the trust and authority to make decisions within their area of responsibility. It is important to remember that trades and suppliers form a substantial percentage — and integral part — of the “people” and must be considered as an integral component for success.
Customer Experience Application
People, product and process are the core ingredients to deliver an exceptional customer experience. To optimize the three Ps, leading companies rely on:
- Employee feedback
- Trade feedback
- Customer feedback
- Production statistics
- Product deficiency/warranty data
- Market research
- Financial results
Business excellence designed around the three Ps will result in teams that are engaged, organized, advantaged and produce a customer experience that creates loyal promoters.
Tim Bailey is division president for Avid Ratings Canada. He helps companies leverage research, data and analytics to create customer experience excellence. He presents to clients and industry groups across North America on the topic of customer experience.
John Kokott is an enterprise account manager for Avid Ratings. He has been deeply involved with technology companies for more than 20 years, and has discovered that understanding his customer, and what their critical drivers for success are, drives him every day. Working at Avid Ratings provides him with the opportunity to meet and work with a very diverse group of people and help them achieve their customer experience goals.