Businesses are like any living organism that must continually evolve to survive.  Customer expectations drive change in every industry.  Distributors are focused on applying the latest advancements in communication and technology to deliver customized services faster to meet increasing customer expectations.  The path is not clear and the stakes are very high.

 

In 2013, the HARDI Foundation asked Indian River Consulting to investigate how distributors create demand.  One of their findings, as summarized in Myths and Misperceptions, is that HVACR distributor customers are extremely loyal.  Each year less than 10% of customers will switch their primary distributors.  A switch is inspired by a disappointing experience or Critical Selling Event (CSE).  As customer expectations for speed and customized service increase, along with alternative channels to access supplies, so does the opportunities for a CSE and customer turnover.  We found a great source of ideas for how to benefit from these opportunities.

 

Mark Dancer’s new book, Getting Results From Your Digital Investments, is a wonderful discussion of how to navigate this evolution with your team to design and deliver distinctive services to your customers.  This is not a “how-to” book; developing how to deliver better service is a process.  “Not a single executive felt their company had mastered how to service customers through digital technologies,” says Dancer.  “Every executive said they were still learning.”  Each chapter features 10 ideas or lessons learned with examples, then ends with questions to help you stay on the most efficient path.  Getting Results helps you plan for this journey.

 

Distributors sell products but deliver services.  Throughout Getting Results, industry participants explain why they believe personalized service at the local level will level the industry playing field and be the key to success.  They warn against trying to do too much too quickly, and encourage collaboration with suppliers and customers to minimize risk. 

 

Digital tools must be used for more than lowering the costs of order processing for a distributor to be a differentiator.  The ultimate objective of rewriting business processes is to create value for the customers and at least meet their expectations.  We expect the rate of CSE to increase, and that means more opportunities for HARDI members to gain share.

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