I’ve written before that collaboration between all stakeholders in the fenestration industry is a key part of how we’ll meet our collective goal and overcome our shared challenges in the coming years and decades. Because no matter what we’re facing, we’re still an industry that revolves around people. Whether its manufacturers, installers, architects or building owners, our ability to form meaningful connections is critical.
I’ve been thinking about this lately in some of my recent interfacing with the architectural community. Architects know that high-performing glass and glazing technology is essential to meeting new building codes in some of North America’s biggest markets — and they need solutions when incorporating it into their designs. Part of my job is helping identify those solutions and providing them not just with product options, but the technical and performance data they need to work those options into their specifications.
I find these to be rewarding conversations. They’re collaborative, and perhaps more important, they’re personal, with each party working to understand and educate each other. Ideally, the result will not just be a successful project, but an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship.
I think this is a mindset that professionals throughout our industry should approach every interaction with. Because it’s important to remember that no matter what kind of business you run today, your customers have options. And providing them with an experience they’ll remember — one that shows you care about their success as much as your own — can set you apart from your competition. Here are a few ways you can accomplish it:
Intangibles matter. A great product or service might not be the only reason your customers choose to do business with your organization. Other reasons could include:
- The decade-long relationship a salesperson has formed with a key customer.
- That same salesperson’s ability to proactively anticipate customer needs.
- The additional service and support provided to tackle any challenge that may arise.
- The friendly service customers are always treated to, no matter whom they’re interacting with.
All of these things are indicative of something deeper: that you truly care about your customer and their success. With that, you can better understand how best to serve them, help meet their challenges and work to offer new solutions they want and need.
Internal customers matter, too. Ensuring your customers (or any stakeholders you regularly interface with) are receiving the best experience possible means taking care of the people that are responsible for providing that experience: your employees.
That could mean investing in training for your plant floor employees, helping them do their jobs better to deliver a more reliable product. It could mean empowering teams to do whatever it takes to provide exceptional customer care. It requires an environment of respect, alignment, and collaboration, and it should start at the very top of your organization.
In an industry where new challenges seem to crop up with increasing frequency, meeting customer expectations is becoming more demanding. Finding a way to deliver a personalized experience and foster an ongoing relationship can help.
Joe Erb is national account manager for Quanex.