Author: Miquel Mahler, Marketing Manager, Proco Products Inc.
We’re seeing a shift in the pump industry where companies are trying to become more “in tune” with their customers. Being customer-focused means understanding end users’ pain points, developing products and services that meet customer needs, and then educating the industry about the solutions that are available to address these issues.
If you are a manufacturer, it is very easy to want to talk about all the different types of products you can offer, but are you talking about how to solve peoples’ problems? In today’s world, people use the internet to do a great deal of research. During the research stage, 72% of buyers turn to Google in an effort to dig deeper into a problem they’re having, find out who can help them, and evaluate whether or not those product or service providers are trustworthy.
Being customer-focused requires effort across all departments – sales, service, C-suite – it should be part of a company’s culture. Making that culture felt in the digital world also requires some work. With that said, here are my tips to help you be customer-focused in the online space.
- Make Your Website User-friendly. This may not be news to some, but this concept will always be critical. If you have taken all the necessary actions to improve your search engine rankings and you manage to get your company to show up on the first page of a search engine’s results, make sure your website is designed in a way that people can find the information they are looking for. This is a lesson Proco Products has learned first-hand. We realized that some of our very valuable guides we were sharing on our website were being frequently overlooked. For example, our Chemical/Rubber guide, which helps people determine the proper elastomer that can be used in expansion joints based on the chemical composition of the transported material, was not easily found by people searching our site. The good news is that we have launched a*NEW* website to make it easier for people to find helpful content, including videos, technical articles about expansion joints and check valves, installation manuals, ourInterchange Guide, Elastomer Comparison Guide, and other great pieces of information that are designed to help our customers. On the new website, all these important tools are now easily accessed from the “Proco Tool Box”. We took the initiative to redesign our website so we could not only make it more aesthetically pleasing, but to make it easier for people to find the information they are looking for without making them search all over the site.
- Embrace Technology. We live in an amazing world! When people complain about not having hover cars yet, I remind them that our mobile phones transmit signals *to outer space* and back to Earth. The things we can do online, from our computers, smart phones, and tablets are just incredible! Think about the use of 3D software in the pump industry. It has enabled companies to design new products, improve existing products, and simulate how those products work in a system under specific conditions. Proco Products has embraced the growing capabilities of 3D technology and began working with TracePartsOnline to make 3D models of our expansion joints available to the engineering, design, and consulting community. Since January, we have made 7 styles of expansion joints available. This has been a great tool for engineers to download a CAD model of our parts, which gives them dimensions, sizes, weights, and helps them plan their piping system prior to purchasing a product. It’s easy to use and the drawing packages are full of useful information that supports the process of designing a piping system. The drawing packages contain dimensionally-accurate 3D models, general/standard sizes of Proco’s entire Series 230, 240 & 271 expansion joints, in addition to operational data, pressure ratings, and spring rates. All tolerances are within the Fluid Sealing Association’s standard guidelines, and users can easily get from TracePartsOnline to our IOM’s (Installation and Operational Manuals) on our new website. Use of this program has really helped in making the purchasing / process much smoother for our customers because they can come to us with the exact configurations they need and have the confidence of knowing our product will work in their system.
- Share. Share. When you’re shifting from being product-focused to customer-focused, you create content to help the customer. Once you have that useful content, you have to *share* it with people. Your website is the best place to offer your content, but people have to know it’s there. This is why sharing your content on social media is super important. You don’t have to be on all the social media outlets, just the ones that work for you. Better yet, get involved with trade associations to share information that helps the industry. Proco Products is a thought leader that is involved with several industry organizations, including the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association, and the Fluid Sealing Association. Participating in these industrial groups helps us continue to create products and educational tools that help our customers.
Shifting a company’s focus from promoting products to concentrating on the needs of the customer can require a great deal of effort, but those companies that take the time and make the effort to shift their focus are the ones that will be more successful over the long-term.