Generating data to best serve your customers: It’s no secret in the distribution industry that customer loyalty is on the decline. It’s become harder than ever to compete with the big box stores, and the last thing you want to do is compete with them on price.

Instead, compete in the areas where you already excel. Do more of what works, and less of what is unsatisfactory to your customers. An increase in customer loyalty and customer retention will directly impact your bottom line. It’s an easy strategy to implement, and technology is such that you can generate customer satisfaction data almost on autopilot.

But, first things first. In order to improve profitability through increased customer retention and conversion, your business must create an innovative strategy based on two important questions. The two questions that every company must ask if they want to be truly customer-centric are:

  1. What do your customers want?
  2. How satisfied are they with the extent to which you’re giving them what they want?

Your answers to these questions set the direction for an actionable, customer service strategy. Once you know that you are asking the right questions, your company can then implement a reliable way of procuring this valuable feedback.

What Do Your Customers Want?

generating dataData from survey tools (like the Opportunity Generator™) reveal the top priorities of your customers or the problems they want to solve most urgently.

Generating data to best serve your customers allows for a better understanding of the issues your clients face, which in turn allows you to increase both customer retention and customer spend by focusing squarely on issues that you know are most relevant.

For example, if you know that speed of delivery represents a top priority, you can craft systems that help you spot delays early, notify customers quickly, and act to rectify the problem.

Of course, one of the key issues that can be measured with the Opportunity Generator™ is the customer service touch points that prove most important to your customers. For example, how do they want you to communicate with them? How do they want to order?

(Hint: As Millennials have become the largest generational segment of the US workforce, we’re seeing increasing demand for text orders!)

Other questions you have to ask are: How quickly do they expect answers to their questions? What do they want in a customer service system?

When you measure these kinds of customer preferences, the data prove invaluable for fine-tuning your customer service to score huge gains in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

One of the great side benefits of employing this tool is that it shows you how to orient your content, products or services, and marketing so they align directly with your customers’ core concerns. Far too many distributors, manufacturers, and rep agents fail to create content marketing because they simply don’t know what to create.

Once you gain a list of the top 5 or 10 concerns of your customers, creating a content calendar becomes a simple matter of crafting messaging that address your customers’ concerns and distributing that content through various social media channels. This same information can let you strengthen the bond with your customers by focusing email campaigns directly on their top concerns. Now you are truly becoming customer-centric.

Are You Giving Them What They Want?

Once you understand what your customers want, the next step is to determine how well you’re providing what they want. That’s where a tool, like the Feedback Generator™, comes into play.

The first form of feedback to obtain from your Feedback Generator™ is testimonials, which provide you with anecdotal accounts of customer interactions that can also serve as the “stories that stick” with your customers and your prospective customers. If you understand what your customers want and deliver it well, testimonials should flow easily — if you have a system to garner them effectively.

We employ a Testimonial Generator™ that automatically invites a customer to leave a testimonial when he or she has provided positive feedback — and we ask for permission to use the testimonial, right inside the survey, so that you can put it to work immediately on your website, in social media, and in marketing materials. You can gather literally hundreds of testimonials, with permission to use them, quickly and easily. This represents a key tool in building trust among customers and prospective customers.

What Their Answers Mean for You

Generating data to best serve your customers and using these means of securing reliable feedback provide the social proof that prospective customers are looking for and a clear direction for your company to implement customer-centric innovation. The result is a reputation that will garner greater customer conversion and retention, and will propel your company towards increased profit.

Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, President of Hurlbert Consulting, brings to her role as STAFDA’s endorsed customer service consultancy expertise in sociology and survey research. After spending more than 25 years in academia, she now uses her extensive behavioral science expertise to help companies like yours distinguish yourselves through customer service. What sets her approach to customer service apart is that she begins by helping companies meld research and marketing to find out exactly (a) what their customers want and (b) how well they’re succeeding in giving customers what they want. Jeanne provides STAFDA members with 30 minutes of complimentary consulting per year; please identify yourself as a STAFDA member when you contact her. You can schedule a consult with her by going to or you can call her at 888-590-9677. And, if you’d like to complete her complimentary assessment, just go to