No matter what your business is all about, customers are a major factor when it comes to success. Al Alexander, president of ConEquip Parts & Equipment, knows this all too well. The company was voted one of the best places to work in Buffalo, New York, has an A+ rating from the BBB, and has seen an average of 70% growth over the last nine years.
Al and his business partners help their company thrive by bringing their core values into every aspect of what they do. This is especially reflected in the way they treat their customers. In a recent interview with Praiseworthy, Al shared a few of his best tips for taking your customer culture to the next level.
It’s all about the people
When Al and his business partner Ben Krentz got started with ConEquip (the pair were later joined by a third partner, Ryan Loos), they set out to create a company culture they could be proud of.
“A lot of sales companies are driven by numbers and revenue,” Al told Praiseworthy. “Which is a need, obviously, to pay the bills and be profitable. But we wanted to create a culture in our company.” They aimed to create the kind of company atmosphere they wished they’d experienced at previous jobs.
“We started with that intention to at least make it a little different, more of a family atmosphere. We accept people as they are and do our best with each person and have integrity with every choice we make.” This is reflected in ConEquip’s hiring process, which often involves asking candidates culture-focused questions about their character strength and speaking to their family members.
To Al, it’s important to never default to defending a company choice by saying “it’s just business,” because in his eyes, company culture is about so much more than that. The company has five core values that are posted throughout the ConEquip offices. (Diligence, integrity, and character are at the top of the list.) “These core values are what we want to have in a rep’s mind or in any employee’s mind when they’re dealing with a customer.” That positive attitude is contagious, and shines through in ConEquip’s front line.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sometimes creating a great customer experience comes down to asking the advice of someone who is already a pro at it. A few years into ConEquip’s existence, the company’s two founders took on the help of experienced business coach Ryan Loos, who served as a mentor and ultimately became a third partner.
“[Ryan] noticed something different about us,” Al explained. “He encouraged us to [hire] more people.” According to Al, adding a new collaborator was scary at first, but it made a huge difference in the company’s direction. “I really encourage everyone who’s listening to get a mentor, get someone who has been beyond where you are now.” Someone who’s a step ahead of you on the customer experience journey can help you see improvement opportunities you might otherwise miss.
Data is your friend
One of the main tactics Al attributes to ConEquip’s growth is to pay attention to numbers, especially when it comes to sales. “Count every single thing you can count,” he suggests. Take note of details like the amount of sales calls that go out, the amount of sales made, the amount of leads, how many times you say certain things on sales calls, and how many emails are involved in the process.
Keeping records like this makes it easier to spot patterns. When you’re able to clearly pinpoint what is and isn’t working, you don’t have to waste time wondering.
Build a strong connection with your best customers
Another key part of ConEquip’s success is to focus on what Al calls your “lead factory.” He suggests working out a plan for connecting with your best customers. “I call myself the chief phone-ringer,” he says. “Because I focus on marketing and my job is to do a monetization of how we get our customers. For example, if every customer who comes in costs us this much, and if we spend five times more than that we’ll get five times more customers. Make it clear that you care about them as a person.”
Always ask for feedback
Consistently seeking customer feedback can help you to see your company more clearly than ever before. Without a regularly seeking feedback, you’ll often only hear from customers after a negative experience, and that doesn’t always provide enough well-rounded information to improve overall customer satisfaction.
When ConEquip started gathering customer feedback with Praiseworthy, Al was suddenly equipped with a whole new set of tools for training sales reps to provide the best customer experience possible.
“[Before using Praiseworthy], we didn’t have immediate connection daily and weekly on what we were doing with our customers,” Al said. “We knew that there were results in the sales but we didn’t have an individual representative rating system.”
With consistent feedback, ConEquip employees have clear indicators of what aspects of the customer experience they’re doing great on, as well as where there are opportunities to improve. “[Before], I would just look at their numbers, their call volume, their activities, and I can improve their strategies, but I would be missing that customer-centric component,” Al says. “That real review directly back to the rep.”
When it comes down to it, customers are what keep your business thriving. No matter what your company specializes in or what stage of growth it’s in, the customer experience is key. Keeping your customers at top of mind, and getting to know them better through seeking out feedback, is vital to continued success.
This podcast is brought to you by Praiseworthy, where we help improve customer culture and give employees recognition through customer interactions. To learn more and subscribe to this podcast, visit blog.praiseworthy.co.