Why a customer centric approach makes sense
Customer-centric innovation revolves around customers and their needs. The process starts with insights on customer needs, with the goal of designing a new product or service that delivers on these needs in a way that is intuitive and accessible across the supply chain. WD and retail customers may be involved in various ways for ideas generation, market research and at-home testing. So while a supplier and a rep agency must understandingly grow their businesses, it is imperative that they align themselves with their WD and retailer’s business model that weaves in their customer values.
Instead of offering a generic “we will build it, and they will come” mantra, become a dedicated resource for each account by being their eyes and ears in the market place by offering credible facts and evidence based on data. This call to action requires that the vendor partner with the rep agency to help develop each account’s business plan to reach their DIY and repair shop base. Ultimately they too want be a dedicated resource for their customers, grow market share and build a healthy margin.
Developing a resource-based consultation team should become your rep agency’s value proposition. In other words, what can you do to make the stake holders’ lives easier by becoming a reliable source of information that translates into measureable revenue improvement and cost savings?
Emerging technologies, shifting demographics and evolving purchasing habits to better connect with the DIYer and installer are three attributes that I value. The biggest challenge is making sense of this inflow. But the broader point here is to jointly tease out issues that your account base values or what keeps them up at night. In some cases, consider introducing best practices to their tool box or raise a new topic relevant to their business model.
An acquaintance mused aloud about why the younger repair techs work less hours than the old school veterans who ignore the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mentality. Millennials do see things so much differently than their older counter parts; and their work ethics may certainly shape the way how a parts store goes to market or even hosts simple value-added services such as an on-site product training clinic.
Historically trade magazines ruled as opinion leaders who determined which articles to publish, and that medium served as one venue to research product information until the rise of online platforms that opened up the gates for interactive connections. Now everyone can share their opinions and blog about their experiences through social media.
A global supplier rationalized this trend by promoting their website replete with product information, and most importantly with product installation videos. Some of that makes sense, but how does that resonate with the millennials? According to the 2016 Aftermarket Business World survey, 73 percent of repair shop owners and techs said that they used their tablets and smart phones more frequently than last year. They found it easy to compare prices, check availability and read peer product reviews.
Where I challenged this supplier is how often is that user going direct to their website versus doing a search on Bing or Google? Shops and DIYers research products primarily through search engines using key words.