The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends!
Today more than ever, customers are expecting, and in some cases demanding, a better customer experience. These types of experiences have to start in the C suite and trickle down. The customer service department may be on the front line, but they can only mirror what management has in mind.
Do your top-level folks really understand the needs of your customers? If not, they certainly can’t help formulate or lead an initiative for a great customer experience if they don’t know what that is! I was surprised from a recent article in eMarketer that showed over 33% of senior managers weren’t aligned with the customer experience.
I think we can all agree that everyone needs to be on board to truly make the customer experience meaningful and real. For any of you who have flown Southwest or shopped in an Apple store, you know what I mean about customer service. The culture starts at the top and both of those brands know that other choices exist for their product and services.
The two takeaways I’d like to leave you with are:
- Listen to your customers - Find out what they want and how they want to get it.
- Under promise and over deliver - give them more than they ask for and make the mundane a memorable experience.
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As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.
So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. And no matter how screwed up our country is in Washington, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.
Did you know that we spend 25 percent of our waking hours listening?
Are we making the most out of it, and what’s more important, what are we missing?
If social media hasn’t taught us anything else, its made it clear that people want to be heard. Listening makes us better people whether it’s listening to our kids, friends, coworkers or customers. We all fall prey to interrupting someone to make a point. We’re so busy thinking about what we’re going to say instead of listening to what’s being said and responding appropriately.
From a leadership point of view, listening is the most important skill a strong leader can have.
In the business world, listening spurs conversations which leads to resolutions and probably more sales. We need to make sure our salesmen and customer service folks are honing these skills.
According to an article in American Express‘ open forum, the article cites a study by the American Listening Association that only 2 percent of all professionals obtain any training to improve their listening skills.
As the landscape continues to change, prospective new customers armed with the internet and social media now are coming to the table with a whole nother set of questions which we may have to think about before we answer. Truly listening to customers can lead to more business!
Here a few listening tips:
- Focus on what people are saying instead of formulating a response before they finish
- Interpret what you hear
- Clarify what you heard
- Ask open-ended questions to engage deeper conversation
- Validate what you heard
Just because you listen doesn’t mean you have to agree. Good listening spurs good conversations and that’s what we’re all looking for.
Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer, Sonnhalter
Have you ever had a question that you didn’t have the answer to, and wanted to ask a person in the same occupational trade as you? If you normally read magazines specific to your trade, there is a chance that magazine may offer a forum where you can post a question and have like-minded participants help answer it for you. Or, if you search for a trade-specific forum, you’re very likely to find one out there.
I’ve listed some forums below to give you a head start. Don’t be afraid to ask anything. There are always people out there willing to help you out.
HVAC-Talk.com – online forum of Contracting Business
HVACSite.com – forum for the HVAC market
Plumbing Talk – online forum of Contractor Magazine
PlumbingZone.com – for professional plumbers only
RIDGIDForum.com – a forum of RIDGID users
ElectricianTalk.com – forum for the Electrical market
Different trade forums for contractors
ContractorTalk.com – forums for all kinds of trades
I just returned from the STAFDA show which was held in Charlotte, NC. It was the biggest one in some years.
The show, for the most part, was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market.
I talked to several manufacturers and they seemed happy, for the most part, on the turnout for the trade show. The last day didn’t set any records, but most trade shows don’t.
In talking with several distributors and a few buying groups that were there, they confirmed that they were having great growth in 2014 and expect it to continue into 2015.
It was nice to go to a distributor/manufacturer meeting where both sides were positive. Hopefully the crystal ball will be right.