The term “customer service” is typically associated with industries such as hospitality and retail. However, ensuring customer satisfaction is essential to any business’s success, and a hardware manufacturing business is no exception.
It is crucial for companies to enable quick and courteous interactions with customers. Prompt solutions to customer problems is now the norm.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies in the manufacturing industry tend to focus more on the production side. But that’s about to change what with customer service playing an increasingly important role in deciding the fate of businesses. They not only need to deliver top-quality industrial hardware supplies, but also ensure post-sales satisfaction.
Let’s find out how a hardware manufacturing business can boost their customer service, and therefore, their business outcomes.
1. Use Advanced Technology
Modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data are making waves in almost every industry by supporting several of their functions. The hardware manufacturing industry is no different. Industrial hardware suppliers and manufacturers should, therefore, leverage technology to improve their customer service.
Apart from these, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) can be deployed to enhance field service capabilities. VR and AR can come handy in helping customers identify and fix product issues remotely, i.e., without the physical presence of field service technicians.
These technologies can also help manufacturers conduct training sessions with customers to help them use their products better, as well as convey information regarding upgrades and new launches – all without actually being physically present.
2. Be Available on Different Customer Service Channels
A lot of customers still prefer to touch base with hardware manufacturers over phone or through onsite support. So, these customer services channels aren’t going anywhere. However, digitization is gradually changing things, leading to the rise of new customer service channels.
Customers now expect industrial hardware distributors and manufacturers to be available via email, live chat, video calls, and other remote support channels for identifying and resolving their problems. If you’re serious about keeping your customers and staying competitive in the hardware manufacturing industry, make sure you offer multi-channel support.
3. Be Prompt in Your Responses
Don’t make the mistake keeping your customers waiting when they’re trying to make inquiries. It’s highly likely that they’ll hang up and turn to your competitor to get their industrial hardware supplies.
Even with emails, try and reply as promptly as possible, preferably within 24 – 48 business hours. When it comes to providing support on live chat, limit the wait time to a couple of minutes.
Reducing customer wait times is crucial and can be done by adding more members to your customer service team. Industrial hardware suppliers and manufacturers can also use tech-powered tools for instantly rerouting calls to available members. This will allow them to handle more inquiries, complete interactions faster, and keep customers happy.
4. Empower Customers to Help Themselves
What if we told you that industrial hardware distributors and manufacturers can create a self-service resource that not only empowers customers to solve simple problems themselves, but also saves your team’s time?
We’re referring to a knowledge base. It’s a collection of information that allows customers to learn more about your business and offerings – all in one place. The knowledge base can include information in the form of videos, eBooks, case studies, white papers, and more.
With its help, your customers will be able to resolve small issues without having to contact your customer service team. It can also be optimized for search engines to help boost your website’s ranking.
When building your knowledge base, make sure to include only high-quality and valuable content. Moreover, the resource should be able to integrate with your CRM software to deliver the best in terms of customer support and experiences.
5. Gather Feedback
To make a real difference in customer service efforts, industrial hardware suppliers and manufacturers need to know what patrons actually think about their products. Customer feedback can prove to be priceless in this regard.
Customer service teams should, therefore, gather data from customers when interacting with them. Try to get their feedback on the most common product issue they encounter, if they’re satisfied with the product, and what kind of improvements/modifications they’d like to see in the product.
Knowing about the common pain points will enable your team to be prepared with streamlined responses rather than fumble during customer interactions. The feedback will also allow manufacturers to produce better products, and help industrial hardware suppliers smooth out their distribution channels.
6. Involve Everyone
Instead of relying only on your customer service team, encourage all of the departments in your company to collaborate towards making customers happy. This includes sales and marketing teams, project managers, engineers, technical staff, industrial hardware distributors, and so on. Help them develop a customer-centric outlook towards their work. Together, they’ll help you deliver exceptional customer service.
The top management can pitch in by laying out organization-wide goals and objectives, and ensuring that all teams are on the same page. They can also facilitate training sessions for all departments on enabling and maintaining high levels of customer service.
As customer service (and associated best practices) evolves, it has become a decisive factor in determining a business’s long-term success. This is especially true for hardware manufacturing businesses and industrial hardware suppliers since most players in this sector deal in near-identical solutions. Robust and consistently good customer service can set you apart from your competitors and give you the advantage you need. The above tips should help you work with the aim of accommodating the unique needs of each customer, and providing them with the solutions and services they need, when they need them. Good luck!
Author Bio: I am Randy Gonzales. I am the President of Elite Sales, a rigging equipment and wire rope distribution company based in Miami, Tampa, Houston, and Dyer. I have more than 30 years of experience in the distribution and supply of industrial hardware industry.