Industry Matters

Installer events can provide valuable feedback on products and services.
Installer events can provide valuable feedback on products and services.
Installer events can provide valuable feedback on products and services.
Installer events can provide valuable feedback on products and services.

Customer acquisition and loyalty is pretty much the Holy Grail of marketing so companies spend a considerable amount of time and money trying to attract and then keep customers.

While promotional offers are fine for short-term sales success, long-term customer relationships depend on winning hearts and minds and you’ll only do this by first understanding exactly what the customer wants. Dialogue is key as brands come face-to-face with customers on a daily basis through digital channels. Accordingly, we no longer try to talk at customers, we have to talk with them.

Our industry is awash with contact strategies, old and new, ranging from loyalty schemes and trade events to social media and email automation – all aimed at not only rewarding customers for their business but also finding out more about how they behave when it comes to buying our products.

These contact strategies are really all about data collection, so that sellers can build a ‘buyer persona’. For example, there are certain things we know about plumbers and how they operate: 56% belong to merchant loyalty schemes, while 58% attend breakfast mornings, 63% use facebook, a similar percentage visit industry websites, while as many as 89% use a mobile device. In fact, installers now regard their smart phones as an essential business tool, with some looking at their small screens up to 150 times a day.

Companies can engage with customers in various ways to discover their views on how to improve the products and services they offer – though some are better at it than others. Clear signs that a company is listening are seen in such things as a commitment to aftersales support, technical advice, training and product guarantees. Also, companies that proactively canvass installer opinions through surveys and panels, undertake roadshows and attend exhibitions. All indicate a desire to reach out to customers. There is plenty of knowledge out there and the collective intelligence can support or even inspire innovation. Indeed, it’s customer dialogue that should be shaping every business process and providing the insight to drive product development and add value to the complete offer.

There is no doubt that digital technology is fuelling customer interaction and email, incorporating a strong call to action, is the dominant online marketing activity in 2015. Social listening too can be an efficient tool for capturing real-time feedback for a new product or service and often identifying an opportunity.

As a result of our digital behaviour research at Salamander, we know that there are plenty of online conversations about water pressure and what to do about poorly performing showers and taps. We found thousands of Google searches every month about water pressure related topics, as well as conversations in forums and social media highlighting problems and seeking solutions. That insight prompted us to develop our consumer website at: which is now helping householders recognise low pressure symptoms, select the right pump for their plumbing system and request a visit from Salamander’s list of recommended local plumbers to quote for the job.

Whatever the media or the method, people want to engage with content that helps solve their problems and our industry is no different. Digital channels such as websites, social media and email allow sellers and resellers to reach a wider audience more continuously than ever before, and, most importantly, they give customers the chance to answer back.

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