Compared to consumer-based industries and other B2Bs, the building products industry is notoriously slow to adapt. Yet, it's proven that early adapting BPMs not only tend to survive, but usually thrive compared to competitors who opt to delay.
In recent years, there's been a major paradigm shift in what customers value most, to which building product manufacturers are not immune. Walker Information, Inc.'s Customers 2020 Report predicts that by 2020 Customer Experience will eclipse both Product and Pricing in terms of what consumers (your customers) value most in a company.
The reasons for this shift are many:
- Considerable advances in technology
- Our ability to far more easily access, collect, manage, and analyze data
- Two generations of consumers who rarely (or never) speak with a real human being at a company before making a purchase (read more about this in our previous article outlining how, in just three years, 85% of customers will manage their relationship with an enterprise without ever interacting with a human)
- A society that increasingly demands instant gratification
With Customer Experience soon to be at the top of the consumer value list, it isn't surprising that considerable discussion in the C-suite is centered here.
According to Fred Reichheld, noted author, Bain Fellow and founder of Bain & Company's Loyalty Practice, there is ample evidence that companies with the highest Customer Experience typically grow at more than double the rate of their competitors.
Especially for commoditized products, a sterling Customer Experience can provide the competitive edge that building products manufacturers need to grow market share and remain on top. For more specialized or proprietary products, an excellent Customer Experience can command a significant premium. Companies that delay addressing this reality will face a considerable uphill battle in the near future. Customer Experience is simply one initiative where BPMs mustn't drag their feet.
So, what can a BPM do to begin building an exemplary Customer Experience? Here are a few for starters:
- An enterprise-wide commitment to the customer. No one can serve two masters, and in business, serving your customer is the best bet.
More challenging than it sounds, commitment to the customer requires laser-sharp vision and strong leadership to secure complete buy-in – top to bottom – with a thorough understanding of its critical importance to the future.
- Customer intelligence. What do your customers really want/need/value? Moreover, when and how do they want/need your products/services? This must be discovered.
In light of the layered complexity of the building industry, simply defining the word "customer" is difficult enough – e.g., two-step distribution, one-step distribution, contractors, remodelers, owners, architects, interior designers, and sometimes all of the above. Don't hide illuminating Customer Intelligence (CI) under a bushel. Instead, let it shine its light across your enterprise and leverage it by continuously growing and analyzing CI for actionable insights.
- Properly identify, procure, and align resources to create a seamless and integrated experience. This includes every customer touch-point – both real and virtual.
Marketing, sales, technical/engineering services, production, delivery, installation, follow-up, billing… even collections. They all play an important role in the critical Customer Experience paradigm.
At LarsonO'Brien we help BPMs do precisely these things to help our clients continuously adapt for tomorrow's building industry. If you would like to chat about the challenges you face related to your own Customer Experience or any other hurdles your company is facing, send me an email or call anytime.