How well do you know your customers?By Al Cervero, AEM Senior Vice President, Construction, Mining and Utility  

Customer expectations are exceeding our industry's speed of adoption. As bad as that sounds, we are not the only ones to be challenged by this.

I will give you an example. I travel extensively, so when I travel for pleasure I pretty much can figure stuff out, even on complicated itineraries. In this case, I booked a cruise with what some may consider a top-notch travel agency.

On both ends of this cruise, I booked the rest on my own. I booked two air charters, two trains, a bus, two drivers and still about one more plane, a train and maybe an automobile to go. So when I called the travel agent to ask two questions, I was shocked by her lack of response. I asked which of three docks in a particular city the ship docked and price of an amenity package on board.  Wow, dead silence on the phone. She stated, I will call the cruise line. As of now, 24 hours later -- nothing. 

When I did this, I first expected that if they are promoting packages, the info would be online. At a minimum, I expect a customer service specialist to know the price of something they promote. It became clear to me that the construction industry is not the only industry with old school customer service. 

Today, yes, distributors should know your equipment. Do they? What is online for self help? (Is this the reason for strong interest in right-to-repair?) Do your service techs or parts marketing folks have the info they need and in mobile format? Are you offering preventative maintenance? Are you offering monitoring services? Okay, you have heard me on this before. 

How many years has it been that we have been calling ourselves an immediate gratification society? Several, so why not on service, too?

I was informed the other day that companies are researching my LinkedIn account and logging the info into my file, not only LinkedIn, but Twitter, Facebook, and credit card purchases, etc. So what do they learn? They pretty much have me pegged! I also understand they do the same with customer service agents. 

Okay, now what do they do with that? That same company is for hire and is employed by Caesars Entertainment, Sprint and others. 

United Healthcare, CVS and others are hiring them to match you with a customer service agent!  Yep, who would you best get along with, see eye-to-eye, understand, relate to? 

Where are you on the scale of knowing your customers? Much less your staff?  

Are our industries behind? More importantly, are our customers' expectations exceeding our objectives for customer service? How can we move forward if we don't know our customers (not your dealers, your end-users)? Maybe we are not ready to hire that private detective agency to know our customers and staff, but do we know where and how the customer wants to run her/his business for improved efficiency and profit?  

Did you know about the private detective match-making business for improved customer service? Then I ask, do you know how your customers plan to drive their business tomorrow?

Exceed your customers' expectations this week at CONEXPO-CON/AGG! See you in Las Vegas.