Tom Hammel 2017-12-09 03:33:44
How are we doing? When was the last time you asked your customers a question as simple as, “How are we doing?” Paying attention to their answers can make all the difference in the world. Early in my interview with Jim McCann of McCann Industries for this issue’s cover story, he looked at me and said, “You’ve written a few of these stories, haven’t you.” Which made me think about it for a second. Well, yes, I guess I have. By my unofficial count, I have written over 100 cover stores on construction and industrial distributors over the last 19 years of my career in distribution, plus dozens of others with reps, manufacturers and contractors. And it’s always the same — every time, I struggle with what to keep for print and what to cut away. Each time I interview a distributor, I come away with far too much information to condense into a print story and to this day it bothers me to have to edit out so many gems of knowledge just to fit “the space.” So was the case with Jim McCann and his sales manager Damian Allen, who, even though we only talked for about 90 minutes, shared so much insight into their business and philosophies that I came away with more than 37 single-spaced pages of transcribed interviews. And believe it or not, that is actually a short interview; some run more than twice as long. One of the things that I regretfully trimmed from the story was Jim’s discussion of a metric he likes to use to measure his business. When you read the story, which begins on page 18, you will see several references to the company’s “customer-centric” philosophy of business, and how McCann always tries to see every point of contact, transaction and service from the customer’s viewpoint, from sales and delivery processes to billing and even software systems — perpetually asking, “Why do we do this?” McCann also is a devotee of the Net Promoter Score, which he learned from the 2006 book by Frederick Reicheld called “The Ultimate Question” (now “The Ultimate Question 2.0.”) “I’m a 100-percent believer in Reicheld’s net promoter score,” McCann said. “It is based on what he calls the ultimate question, which is, ‘How likely are you to recommend McCann Industries to a friend or colleague?’ On a scale of 1 to 10, if their answer is a 9 or 10, then they are net promoters. Answers 7 and 8 are neutral and anything 6 or below is a detractor. We use a marketing company to survey a sample of our customers every month. “You subtract detractors from promoters and the result is your net promoter score. I track that religiously every month and talk about it with all of our associates. I’m proud of how we do and very proud of the level of customer satisfaction we have. That’s very important to us.” Jim McCann believes that customer satisfaction and loyalty is critical to his company’s survival in the Amazon age. When was the last time you asked your customers a question as simple as, “How are we doing for you?” Paying attention to their answers, and acting on them, can make all the difference in the world. Tom Hammel firstname.lastname@example.org
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