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Grainger on Social Media’s Role in Customer Service

Social media has helped bridge the gap between customers and new products.

Grainger is a customer service organization, says Gene Rados, Jr., Grainger’s senior director of projects and content management. “We live and die on customer service,” Rados said during a panel of Operational Leadership Awards winners at the Ventana Research Business Technology Leadership Summit. A key part of Grainger’s customer service strategy, he says, is the utilization of social media platforms, which allow reps to quickly respond to customer communications.

One way social media has helped Grainger to better serve its customers is by providing a venue for customers who are seeking hard-to-find items, Rados says. “That’s where I think social media has really worked for Grainger – getting people to understand what we have and not having to thumb through a 4,000 page catalog to find it.”

Rados says sales of non-catalog items, products not available in printed catalogs, have grown “immensely” as a result of Grainger’s efforts to continually add items to its website. Social media has helped facilitate that growth, by bridging the gap between the new products and the customers who need them. “We put stuff out there; they find it,” he says.

As MDM Publisher Tom Gale pointed out in The Internet as a Search (and Positioning) Tool, the growth of social media usage in the U.S. has grown exponentially over the last few years. And customers have come to rely on it as a tool for connecting with the companies they buy from.

In 2012, Grainger U.S. President Court Carruthers told Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation Magazine that the company is still in the early stages of building out its social media strategy. “We’ll continue to work with our manufacturing customers to test new ways to enhance their experience online. As manufacturers continue to go online, we expect social media tools will become a more prominent part of the equation,” he said.

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