Thinking About Customers and Customer Satisfaction
Guest writer Alex Weaver focuses on the annual goals we focus upon in our industry with this blog post on “Thinking about customers and customer satisfaction.”
Many dealers/resellers in the Construction Equipment Industry, set annual goals around Financial Performance, Market Share, Customer Satisfaction, and Employee Satisfaction.
For now, let’s focus on Customer Satisfaction/Service. Is your customer satisfaction better, the same or less after the Covid/Pandemic shutdowns? In our industry, the balance between the customer interface using technology and humans – real voices, real answers have always favored human interaction.
Is that still true? Technology has changed and is changing customer expectations. Customers are younger. Using eCommerce for transactions is a growing trend in our industry. Do we understand those changes?
What is the best method for finding out?
Many companies use an annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. But, can you truly understand the impact of any major change in a survey?
I suggest that the best way of understanding the pressures and needs of customers is to talk to them. Do executive management team members schedule annual ride along with sales staff? Not just interact with customers at a golf outing or cookout.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a “master” in action. Back in the “horse and buggy” days, there were financial institutions called “Savings and Loans”. “The savings and loan association became a strong force in the early 20th century through assisting people with home ownership, through mortgage lending, and further assisting their members with basic saving and investing outlets, typically through passbook savings accounts and term certificates of deposit.
The savings and loan associations of this era were famously portrayed in the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The personal touch. The gentleman I observed was the primary shareholder and president of the Savings and Loan – He maintained three desks. One in the lobby, one in the loan office, and one “upstairs” out of public view. He was at his lobby desk when the doors opened, used the loan department desk before and after lunch. He used his private desk in the late afternoon. He was raised on a farm without a formal high school education, but he knew and understood customers. What they want/need – how he could help them achieve their goal of Home Ownership.
I spent my college years, in the summers, working as one of the “grunts” on the appraisal team. He always asked the grunts for their observations and recommendations. I rarely agreed with our (his) decision because I did not understand the “people” side of the equation. He met many of his depositors, face to face, from his Lobby Desk. He met many of the loan customers, in the loan department. He personally inspected each home or property loaned on. While staff members did the grunt work, ERL would visit with the homeowner. Notice the condition of the property – cleanliness, indications of personal pride in the home and property. Personal involvement with the customers, both savers and borrowers were his focus.
Customer Satisfaction. One of the cornerstones of success in our industry. We measure it or at least survey it. How do we stack up? Have the scales tipped more to technology than human touch? What is your score, and how do you know?