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Distributor's Link Magazine Summer 2018 / Vol 41 No3


164 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK LAURENCE CLAUS THREE THINGS THAT DISTRIBUTORS MUST DO WELL - PART 1 from page 102 As a result, when I set-up the new account I had to work with two different company’s representatives and well into the process discovered that I apparently wasn’t eligible for the special pricing. When I voiced my disappointment in this development and that I had been told by the representative from the first company that I would receive the price special, the second company’s representative relented and agreed to honor the price. To do so, however, they had to apply a reoccurring credit. This worked for two billing cycles and then mysteriously dropped off. I discovered this quickly enough and contacted my provider’s customer service to remedy the problem. The first individual I spoke with was a friendly young man (although I couldn’t understand half of what he was telling me) who expressed a desire to help. Unfortunately after at least 45 minutes on the phone with him, he finally admitted to me that he couldn’t help me as he did not have the authority to make these changes. When I asked if I could speak with a supervisor, I was told that was impossible. We discontinued the call and I called right back. This time I got a helpful young woman, but after another half hour she was unable to help. By this time, resolving this issue was now my new mission in life and I called back again. This time I got a slightly more seasoned individual. When I explained the problem, she very quickly acknowledged that she could not resolve it and that I needed to speak with Customer Care. She transferred me to a representative, an older and empowered woman. Within ten minutes the problem was resolved and I had even received a sizeable credit for the frustration I had just received in this run around leading up to getting to her. It was obvious she was empowered to solve the problem and did. The other representatives I spoke with, although friendly and expressing a desire to be helpful, could not, so that the only purpose they served was to get me very frustrated and angry. I imagine that if I had not taken this up as a mission, I probably would have asked the first individual to just cancel my service, so that I could take my business to someone that cared. Providing Value I recall an old Three Stooges skit where the Stooges were auto mechanics asked to fix a rattle in a car. However, instead of identifying and fixing the rattle, they disassemble the entire vehicle. When they put it back together they are left with a pile of unused parts. The stooges are providing a service, but unfortunately not the one needed by this customer. In the same way, we should assess our customer’s wants and needs and provide services that ring value to them. As distributors your value proposition is what will separate you from your competition. In fact, you should never let yourself be lulled into believing that you are irreplaceable by your customer. You should always be asking questions and listening for clues to how you can bring greater value to your customer. It is important not to underestimate importance of adding value. To illustrate this point simply reflect on some of your own personal experiences. Take for example servicing your car at the dealer. Car dealerships generally make their money by providing services and not by selling new cars. Therefore, dealer’s service activities have become exceptionally competitive and to attract and retain customers, dealers have had to increase the level of value they add to these services. A couple of examples include getting your car washed or vacuumed after the service, providing drinks and snacks while you wait, access to free Wi-Fi, providing loaner vehicles, providing shuttle service, and having a kid’s play area in the waiting room. I know that, I for one, very much appreciate the popcorn our dealer makes available to these waiting for their cars to be serviced. As silly as it sounds, this little amenity is one of the reasons that I will drive a couple of extra miles to have my car serviced at this dealer. Bottom line, train your people “on the street” to keep their ears open for ideas that will bring greater value to your customer. It really doesn’t need to be significant activities, small, almost seemingly inconsequential, things can pay back big dividends. A couple of items that I believe are often not given enough importance in the distributor arena, but are big value differentiators are providing application engineering, doing value analyses, and conducting training sessions for your customers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 178



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